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Title: Men Like Gods (1923)
Author: H.G. Wells
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Title: Men Like Gods
Author: H.G. Wells




To Florence Lamont
in whose home at Englewood this story
was christened

CONTENTS

BOOK THE FIRST - The Irruption of the Earthlings

1. Mr. Barnstaple Takes a Holiday
2. The Wonderful Road
3. The Beautiful People
4. The Shadow of Einstein Falls Across the Story but Passes Lightly by
5. The Governance and History of Utopia
6. Some Earthly Criticisms
7. The Bringing in of Lord Barralonga's Party
8. Early Morning in Utopia

BOOK THE SECOND - Quarantine Crag

1. The Epidemic
2. The Castle on the Crag
3. Mr. Barnstaple as a Traitor to Mankind
4. The End of Quarantine Crag

BOOK THE THIRD - A Neophyte in Utopia

1. The Peaceful Hills Beside the River
2. A Loiterer in a Living World
3. The Service of the Earthling
4. The Return of the Earthling




BOOK THE FIRST

THE IRRUPTION OF THE EARTHLINGS


CHAPTER THE FIRST

MR. BARNSTAPLE TAKES A HOLIDAY


Section 1

Mr. Barnstaple found himself in urgent need of a holiday, and he had
no one to go with and nowhere to go. He was overworked. And he was
tired of home.

He was a man of strong natural affections; he loved his family
extremely so that he knew it by heart, and when he was in these
jaded moods it bored him acutely. His three sons, who were all
growing up, seemed to get leggier and larger every day; they sat
down in the chairs he was just going to sit down in; they played
him off his own pianola; they filled the house with hoarse, vast
laughter at jokes that one couldn't demand to be told; they cut in
on the elderly harmless flirtations that had hitherto been one of
his chief consolations in this vale; they beat him at tennis; they
fought playfully on the landings, and fell downstairs by twos and
threes with an enormous racket. Their hats were everywhere. They
were late for breakfast. They went to bed every night in a storm
of uproar: "Haw, Haw, Haw--bump!" and their mother seemed to like
it. They all cost money, with a cheerful disregard of the fact
that everything had gone up except Mr. Barnstaple's earning power.
And when he said a few plain truths about Mr. Lloyd George at
meal-times, or made the slightest attempt to raise the tone of
the table-talk above the level of the silliest persiflage, their
attention wandered ostentatiously....

At any rate it _seemed_ ostentatiously.

He wanted badly to get away from his family to some place where he
could think of its various members with quiet pride and affection,
and otherwise not be disturbed by them....

And also he wanted to get away for a time from Mr. Peeve. The
very streets were becoming a torment to him, he wanted never to
see a newspaper or a newspaper placard again. He was obsessed by
apprehensions of some sort of financial and economic smash that
would make the Great War seem a mere incidental catastrophe. This
was because he was sub-editor and general factotum of the Liberal,
that well-known organ of the more depressing aspects of advanced
thought, and the unvarying pessimism of Mr. Peeve, his chief, was
infecting him more and more. Formerly it had been possible to put
up a sort of resistance to Mr. Peeve by joking furtively about his
gloom with the other members of the staff, but now there were no
other members of the staff: they had all been retrenched by Mr.
Peeve in a mood of financial despondency. Practically, now, nobody
wrote regularly for the Liberal except Mr. Barnstaple and Mr. Peeve.
So Mr. Peeve had it all his own way with Mr. Barnstaple. He would
sit hunched up in the editorial chair, with his hands deep in his
trouser pockets, taking a gloomy view of everything, sometimes for
two hours together. Mr. Barnstaple's natural tendency was towards
a modest hopefulness and a belief in progress, but Mr. Peeve held
very strongly that a belief in progress was at least six years out
of date, and that the brightest hope that remained to Liberalism
was for a good Day of Judgment soon. And having finished the copy
of what the staff, when there was a staff, used to call his weekly
indigest, Mr. Peeve would depart and leave Mr. Barnstaple to get
the rest of the paper together for the next week.

Even in ordinary times Mr. Peeve would have been hard enough to
live with; but the times were not ordinary, they were full of
disagreeable occurrences that made his melancholy anticipations
all too plausible. The great coal lock-out had been going on for
a month and seemed to foreshadow the commercial ruin of England;
every morning brought intelligence of fresh outrages from Ireland,
unforgivable and unforgettable outrages; a prolonged drought
threatened the harvests of the world; the League of Nations, of
which Mr. Barnstaple had hoped enormous things in the great days
of President Wilson, was a melancholy and self-satisfied futility;
everywhere there was conflict, everywhere unreason; seven-eighths
of the world seemed to be sinking down towards chronic disorder
and social dissolution. Even without Mr. Peeve it would have been
difficult enough to have made headway against the facts.

Mr. Barnstaple was, indeed, ceasing to secrete hope, and for such
types as he, hope is the essential solvent without which there is no
digesting life. His hope had always been in liberalism and generous
liberal effort, but he was beginning to think that liberalism would
never do anything more for ever than sit hunched up with its hands
in its pockets grumbling and peeving at the activities of baser but
more energetic men. Whose scrambling activities would inevitably
wreck the world.

Night and day now, Mr. Barnstaple was worrying about the world at
large. By night even more than by day, for sleep was leaving him.
And he was haunted by a dreadful craving to bring out a number of
the Liberal of his very own--to alter it all after Mr. Peeve had
gone away, to cut out all the dyspeptic stuff, the miserable, empty
girding at this wrong and that, the gloating on cruel and unhappy
things, the exaggeration of the simple, natural, human misdeeds
of Mr. Lloyd George, the appeals to Lord Grey, Lord Robert Cecil,
Lord Lansdowne, the Pope, Queen Anne, or the Emperor Frederick
Barbarossa (it varied from week to week), to arise and give voice
and form to the young aspirations of a world reborn, and, instead,
to fill the number with--Utopia! to say to the amazed readers of
the Liberal: Here are things that have to be done! Here are the
things we are going to do! What a blow it would be for Mr. Peeve
at his Sunday breakfast! For once, too astonished to secrete
abnormally, he might even digest that meal!

But this was the most foolish of dreaming. There were the three
young Barnstaples at home and their need for a decent start in
life to consider. And beautiful as the thing was as a dream, Mr.
Barnstaple had a very unpleasant conviction that he was not really
clever enough to pull such a thing off. He would make a mess of
it somehow....

One might jump from the frying-pan into the fire. The Liberal was
a dreary, discouraging, ungenerous paper, but anyhow it was not a
base and wicked paper.

Still, if there was to be no such disastrous outbreak it was
imperative that Mr. Barnstaple should rest from Mr. Peeve for a
time. Once or twice already he had contradicted him. A row might
occur anywhen. And the first step towards resting from Mr. Peeve
was evidently to see a doctor. So Mr. Barnstaple went to a doctor.

"My nerves are getting out of control," said Mr. Barnstaple. "I feel
horribly neurasthenic."

"You are suffering from neurasthenia," said the doctor. "I dread
my daily work."

"You want a holiday."

"You think I need a change?"

"As complete a change as you can manage."

"Can you recommend any place where I could go?"

"Where do you want to go?"

"Nowhere definite. I thought you could recommend--"

"Let some place attract you--and go there. Do nothing to force
your inclinations at the present time."

Mr. Barnstaple paid the doctor the sum of one guinea, and armed
with these instructions prepared to break the news of his illness
and his necessary absence to Mr. Peeve whenever the occasion
seemed ripe for doing so.


Section 2

For a time this prospective holiday was merely a fresh addition to
Mr. Barnstaple's already excessive burthen of worries. To decide
to get away was to find oneself face to face at once with three
apparently insurmountable problems: How to get away? Whither?
And since Mr. Barnstaple was one of those people who tire very
quickly of their own company: With whom? A sharp gleam of furtive
scheming crept into the candid misery that had recently become Mr.
Barnstaple's habitual expression. But then, no one took much notice
of Mr. Barnstaple's expressions.

One thing was very clear in his mind. Not a word of this holiday
must be breathed at home. If once Mrs. Barnstaple got wind of it,
he knew exactly what would happen. She would, with an air of
competent devotion, take charge of the entire business. "You must
have a _good_ holiday," she would say. She would select some rather
distant and expensive resort in Cornwall or Scotland or Brittany,
she would buy a lot of outfit, she would have afterthoughts to swell
the luggage with inconvenient parcels at the last moment, and she
would bring the boys. Probably she would arrange for one or two
groups of acquaintances to come to the same place to "liven things
up." If they did they were certain to bring the worst sides of their
natures with them and to develop into the most indefatigable of
bores. There would be no conversation. There would be much unreal
laughter, There would be endless games.... _No_!

But how is a man to go away for a holiday without his wife getting
wind of it? Somehow a bag must be packed and smuggled out of the
house....

The most hopeful thing about Mr. Barnstaple's position from Mr.
Barnstaple's point of view was that he owned a small automobile of
his very own. It was natural that this car should play a large part
in his secret plannings. It seemed to offer the easiest means of
getting away; it converted the possible answer to Whither? from a
fixed and definite place into what mathematicians call, I believe,
a locus; and there was something so companionable about the little
beast that it did to a slight but quite perceptible extent answer
the question, With whom? It was a two-seater. It was known in the
family as the Foot Bath, Colman's Mustard, and the Yellow Peril.
As these names suggest, it was a low, open car of a clear yellow
colour. Mr. Barnstaple used it to come up to the office from
Sydenham because it did thirty-three miles to the gallon and was
ever so much cheaper than a season ticket. It stood up in the court
under the office window during the day. At Sydenham it lived in a
shed of which Mr. Barnstaple carried the only key. So far he had
managed to prevent the boys from either driving it or taking it to
pieces. At times Mrs. Barnstaple made him drive her about Sydenham
for her shopping, but she did not really like the little car because
it exposed her to the elements too much and made her dusty and
dishevelled. Both by reason of all that it made possible and by
reason of all that it debarred, the little car was clearly indicated
as the medium for the needed holiday. And Mr. Barnstaple really
liked driving it. He drove very badly, but he drove very carefully;
and though it sometimes stopped and refused to proceed, it did not
do, or at any rate it had not so far done as most other things did
in Mr. Barnstaple's life, which was to go due east when he turned
the steering wheel west. So that it gave him an agreeable sense of
mastery.

In the end Mr. Barnstaple made his decisions with great rapidity.
Opportunity suddenly opened in front of him. Thursday was his day at
the printer's, and he came home on Thursday evening feeling horribly
jaded. The weather kept obstinately hot and dry. It made it none the
less distressing that this drought presaged famine and misery for
half the world. And London was in full season, smart and grinning:
if anything it was a sillier year than 1913, the great tango year,
which, in the light of subsequent events, Mr. Barnstaple had
hitherto regarded as the silliest year in the world's history.
The Star had the usual batch of bad news along the margin of the
sporting and fashionable intelligence that got the displayed space.
Fighting was going on between the Russians and Poles, and also in
Ireland, Asia Minor, the India frontier, and Eastern Siberia. There
had been three new horrible murders. The miners were still out,
and a big engineering strike was threatened. There had been only
standing room in the down train and it had started twenty minutes
late.

He found a note from his wife explaining that her cousins at
Wimbledon had telegraphed that there was an unexpected chance of
seeing the tennis there with Mademoiselle Lenglen and all the rest
of the champions, and that she had gone over with the boys and
would not be back until late. It would do their game no end of good,
she said, to see some really first-class tennis. Also it was the
servants' social that night. Would he mind being left alone in the
house for once? The servants would put him out some cold supper
before they went.

Mr. Barnstaple read this note with resignation. While he ate his
supper he ran his eye over a pamphlet a Chinese friend had sent him
to show how the Japanese were deliberately breaking up what was left
of the civilization and education of China.

It was only as he was sitting and smoking a pipe in his little back
garden after supper that he realized all that being left alone in
the house meant for him.

Then suddenly he became very active. He rang up Mr. Peeve, told him
of the doctor's verdict, explained that the affairs of the Liberal
were just then in a particularly leavable state, and got his
holiday. Then he went to his bedroom and packed up a hasty selection
of things to take with him in an old Gladstone bag that was not
likely to be immediately missed, and put this in the dickey of his
car. After which he spent some time upon a letter which he addressed
to his wife and put away very carefully in his breast pocket.

Then he locked up the car-shed and composed himself in a deck-chair
in the garden with his pipe and a nice thoughtful book on the
Bankruptcy of Europe, so as to look and feel as innocent as possible
before his family came home.

When his wife returned he told her casually that he believed he was
suffering from neurasthenia, and that he had arranged to run up to
London on the morrow and consult a doctor in the matter.

Mrs. Barnstaple wanted to choose him a doctor, but he got out of
that by saying that he had to consider Peeve in the matter and
that Peeve was very strongly set on the man he had already in fact
consulted. And when Mrs. Barnstaple said that she believed they
_all_ wanted a good holiday, he just grunted in a non-committal
manner.

In this way Mr. Barnstaple was able to get right away from his house
with all the necessary luggage for some weeks' holiday, without
arousing any insurmountable opposition. He started next morning
Londonward. The traffic on the way was gay and plentiful, but by no
means troublesome, and the Yellow Peril was running so sweetly that
she might almost have been named the Golden Hope. In Camberwell
he turned into the Camberwell New Road and made his way to the
post-office at the top of Vauxhall Bridge Road. There he drew up.
He was scared but elated by what he was doing. He went into the
post-office and sent his wife a telegram. "Dr. Pagan," he wrote,
"says solitude and rest urgently needed so am going off Lake
District recuperate have got bag and things expecting this letter
follows."

Then he came outside and fumbled in his pocket and produced and
posted the letter he had written so carefully overnight. It was
deliberately scrawled to suggest neurasthenia at an acute phase. Dr.
Pagan, it explained, had ordered an immediate holiday and suggested
that Mr. Barnstaple should "wander north." It would be better to
cut off all letters for a few days, or even a week or so. He would
not trouble to write unless something went wrong. No news would
be good news. Rest assured all would be well. As soon as he had a
certain address for letters he would wire it, but only very urgent
things were to be sent on.

After this he resumed his seat in his car with such a sense of
freedom as he had never felt since his first holidays from his first
school. He made for the Great North Road, but at the traffic jam at
Hyde Park Corner he allowed the policeman to turn him down towards
Knightsbridge, and afterwards at the corner where the Bath Road
forks away from the Oxford Road an obstructive van put him into the
former. But it did not matter very much. Any way led to Elsewhere
and he could work northward later.


Section 3

The day was one of those days of gay sunshine that were
characteristic of the great drought of 1921. It was not in the least
sultry. Indeed there was a freshness about it that blended with Mr.
Barnstaple's mood to convince him that there were quite agreeable
adventures before him. Hope had already returned to him. He knew he
was on the way out of things, though as yet he had not the slightest
suspicion how completely out of things the way was going to take
him. It would be quite a little adventure presently to stop at an
inn and get some lunch, and if he felt lonely as he went on he would
give somebody a lift and talk. It would be quite easy to give people
lifts because so long as his back was generally towards Sydenham.
and the Liberal office, it did not matter at all now in which
direction he went.

A little way out of Slough he was passed by an enormous grey touring
car. It made him start and swerve. It came up alongside him without
a sound, and though according to his only very slightly inaccurate
speedometer, he was doing a good twenty-seven miles an hour, it
had passed him in a moment. Its occupants, he noted, were three
gentlemen and a lady. They were all sitting up and looking backward
as though they were interested in something that was following them.
They went by too quickly for him to note more than that the lady was
radiantly lovely in an immediate and indisputable way, and that the
gentleman nearest to him had a peculiarly elfin yet elderly face.

Before he could recover from the eclat of this passage a car with
the voice of a prehistoric saurian warned him that he was again
being overtaken. This was how Mr. Barnstaple liked being passed. By
negotiation. He slowed down, abandoned any claim to the crown of the
road and made encouraging gestures with his hand. A large, smooth,
swift Limousine availed itself of his permission to use the thirty
odd feet or so of road to the right of him. It was carrying a fair
load of luggage, but except for a young gentleman with an eye-glass
who was sitting beside the driver, he saw nothing of its passengers.
It swept round a corner ahead in the wake of the touring car.

Now even a mechanical foot-bath does not like being passed in
this lordly fashion on a bright morning on the open road. Mr.
Barnstaple's accelerator went down and he came round that corner a
good ten miles per hour faster than his usual cautious practice.
He found the road quite clear ahead of him.

Indeed he found the road much too clear ahead of him. It stretched
straight in front of him for perhaps a third of a mile. On the left
were a low, well-trimmed hedge, scattered trees, level fields, some
small cottages lying back, remote poplars, and a distant view of
Windsor Castle. On the right were level fields, a small inn, and
a background of low, wooded hills. A conspicuous feature in this
tranquil landscape was the board advertisement of a riverside hotel
at Maidenhead. Before him was a sort of heat flicker in the air and
two or three little dust whirls spinning along the road. And there
was not a sign of the grey touring car and not a sign of the
Limousine.

It took Mr. Barnstaple the better part of two seconds to realize the
full astonishment of this fact. Neither to right nor left was there
any possible side road down which either car could have vanished.
And if they had already got round the further bend, then they must
be travelling at the rate of two or three hundred miles per hour!

It was Mr. Barnstaple's excellent custom whenever he was in doubt
to slow down. He slowed down now. He went on at a pace of perhaps
fifteen miles an hour, staring open-mouthed about the empty
landscape for some clue to this mysterious disappearance. Curiously
enough he had no feeling that he himself was in any sort of danger.

Then his car seemed to strike something and skidded. It skidded
round so violently that for a moment or so Mr. Barnstaple lost his
head. He could not remember what ought to be done when a car skids.
He recalled something vaguely about steering in the direction
in which the car is skidding, but he could not make out in the
excitement of the moment in what direction the car was skidding.

Afterwards he remembered that at this point he heard a sound. It
was exactly the same sound, coming as the climax of an accumulating
pressure, sharp like the snapping of a lute string, which one hears
at the end--or beginning--of insensibility under anaesthetics.

He had seemed to twist round towards the hedge on the right, but now
he found the road ahead of him again. He touched his accelerator and
then slowed down and stopped. He stopped in the profoundest
astonishment.

This was an entirely different road from the one he had been upon
half a minute before. The hedges had changed, the trees had altered,
Windsor Castle had vanished, and--a small compensation--the big
Limousine was in sight again. It was standing by the roadside about
two hundred yards away,



CHAPTER THE SECOND

THE WONDERFUL ROAD


Section 1

For a time Mr. Barnstaple's attention was very unequally divided
between the Limousine, whose passengers were now descending, and the
scenery about him. This latter was indeed so strange and beautiful
that it was only as people who must be sharing his admiration and
amazement and who therefore might conceivably help to elucidate
and relieve his growing and quite overwhelming perplexity, that
the little group ahead presently arose to any importance in his
consciousness.

The road itself instead of being the packed together pebbles and
dirt smeared with tar with a surface of grit, dust, and animal
excrement, of a normal English high road, was apparently made of
glass, clear in places as still water and in places milky or
opalescent, shot with streaks of soft colour or glittering richly
with clouds of embedded golden flakes. It was perhaps twelve or
fifteen yards wide. On either side was a band of greensward, of a
finer grass than Mr. Barnstaple had ever seen before--and he was an
expert and observant mower of lawns--and beyond this a wide border
of flowers. Where Mr. Barnstaple sat agape in his car and perhaps
for thirty yards in either direction this border was a mass of some
unfamiliar blossom of forget-me-not blue. Then the colour was broken
by an increasing number of tall, pure white spikes that finally
ousted the blue altogether from the bed. On the opposite side of the
way these same spikes were mingled with masses of plants bearing
seed-pods equally strange to Mr. Barnstaple, which varied through a
series of blues and mauves and purples to an intense crimson. Beyond
this gloriously coloured foam of flowers spread flat meadows on
which creamy cattle were grazing. Three close at hand, a little
startled perhaps by Mr. Barnstaple's sudden apparition, chewed the
cud and regarded him with benevolently speculative eyes. They had
long horns and dewlaps like the cattle of South Europe and India.
From these benign creatures Mr. Barnstaple's eyes went to a long
line of flame-shaped trees, to a colonnade of white and gold, and
to a background of snow-clad mountains. A few tall, white clouds
were sailing across a sky of dazzling blue. The air impressed Mr.
Barnstaple as being astonishingly clear and sweet.

Except for the cows and the little group of people standing by the
Limousine Mr. Barnstaple could see no other living creature. The
motorists were standing still and staring about them. A sound of
querulous voices came to him.

A sharp crepitation at his back turned Mr. Barnstaple's attention
round. By the side of the road in the direction from which
conceivably he had come were the ruins of what appeared to be a
very recently demolished stone house. Beside it were two large
apple trees freshly twisted and riven, as if by some explosion,
and out of the centre of it came a column of smoke and this sound
of things catching fire. And the contorted lines of these shattered
apple trees helped Mr. Barnstaple to realize that some of the
flowers by the wayside near at hand were also bent down to one side
as if by the passage of a recent violent gust of wind. Yet he had
heard no explosion nor felt any wind.

He stared for a time and then turned as if for an explanation to
the Limousine. Three of these people were now coming along the road
towards him, led by a tall, slender, grey-headed gentleman in a
felt hat and a long motoring dust-coat. He had a small upturned
face with a little nose that scarce sufficed for the springs of his
gilt glasses. Mr. Barnstaple restarted his engine and drove slowly
to meet them.

As soon as he judged himself within hearing distance he stopped and
put his head over the side of the Yellow Peril with a question. At
the same moment the tall, grey-headed gentleman asked practically
the same question: "Can you tell me at all, sir, where we _are_?"


Section 2

"Five minutes ago," said Mr. Barnstaple, "I should have said we were
on the Maidenhead Road. Near Slough."

"Exactly!" said the tall gentleman in earnest, argumentative tones.
"Exactly! And I maintain that there is not the slightest reason for
supposing that we are not still on the Maidenhead Road."

The challenge of the dialectician rang in his voice.

"It doesn't _look_ like the Maidenhead Road," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"Agreed! But are we to judge by appearances or are we to judge by
the direct continuity of our experience? The Maidenhead Road led to
this, was in continuity with this, and therefore I hold that this
is the Maidenhead Road."

"Those mountains?" considered Mr. Barnstaple.

"Windsor Castle ought to be there," said the tall gentleman brightly
as if he gave a point in a gambit.

"_Was_ there five minutes ago," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"Then obviously those mountains are some sort of a camouflage," said
the tall gentleman triumphantly, "and the whole of this business
is, as they say nowadays, a put-up thing."

"It seems to be remarkably well put up," said Mr. Barnstaple.

Came a pause during which Mr. Barnstaple surveyed the tall
gentleman's companions. The tall gentleman he knew perfectly well.
He had seen him a score of times at public meetings and public
dinners. He was Mr. Cecil Burleigh, the great Conservative leader.
He was not only distinguished as a politician; he was eminent
as a private gentleman, a philosopher and a man of universal
intelligence. Behind him stood a short, thick-set, middle-aged
young man, unknown to Mr. Barnstaple, the natural hostility of
whose appearance was greatly enhanced by an eye-glass. The third
member of the little group was also a familiar form, but for a time
Mr. Barnstaple could not place him. He had a clean-shaven, round,
plump face and a well-nourished person and his costume suggested
either a High Church clergyman or a prosperous Roman Catholic
priest.

The young man with the eye-glass now spoke in a kind of impotent
falsetto. "I came down to Taplow Court by road not a month ago
and there was certainly nothing of this sort on the way then."

"I admit there are difficulties," said Mr. Burleigh with gusto.
"I admit there are considerable difficulties. Still, I venture to
think my main proposition holds."

"_You_ don't think this is the Maidenhead Road?" said the gentleman
with the eye-glass flatly to Mr. Barnstaple.

"It seems too perfect for a put-up thing," said Mr. Barnstaple with
a mild obstinacy.

"But, my dear Sir!" protested Mr. Burleigh, "this road is _notorious_
for nursery seedsmen and sometimes they arrange the most astonishing
displays. As an advertisement."

"Then why don't we go straight on to Taplow Court now?" asked the
gentleman with the eye-glass.

"Because," said Mr. Burleigh, with the touch of asperity natural
when one has to insist on a fact already clearly known, and
obstinately overlooked, "Rupert insists that we are in some other
world. And won't go on. That is why. He has always had too much
imagination. He thinks that things that don't exist _can_ exist.
And now he imagines himself in some sort of scientific romance and
out of our world altogether. In another dimension. I sometimes think
it would have been better for all of us if Rupert had taken to
writing romances--instead of living them. If you, as his secretary,
think that you will be able to get him on to Taplow in time for
lunch with the Windsor people--"

Mr. Burleigh indicated by a gesture ideas for which he found words
inadequate.

Mr. Barnstaple had already noted a slow-moving, intent,
sandy-complexioned figure in a grey top hat with a black band that
the caricaturists had made familiar, exploring the flowery tangle
beside the Limousine. This then must be no less well-known person
than Rupert Catskill, the Secretary of State for War.

For once Mr. Barnstaple found himself in entire agreement with
this all too adventurous politician. This _was_ another world. Mr.
Barnstaple got out of his car and addressed himself to Mr. Burleigh.
"I think we may get a lot of light upon just where we are, Sir,
if we explore this building which is burning here close at hand.
I thought just now that I saw a figure lying on the slope close
behind it. If we could catch one of the hoaxers--"

He left his sentence unfinished because he did not believe for a
moment that they were being hoaxed. Mr. Burleigh had fallen very
much in his opinion in the last five minutes.

All four men turned their faces to the smoking ruin.

"It's a very extraordinary thing that there isn't a soul in sight,"
remarked the eye-glass gentleman searching the horizon.

"Well, I see no harm whatever in finding out what is burning," said
Mr. Burleigh and led the way, upholding an intelligent, anticipatory
face, towards the wrecked house between the broken trees.

But before he had gone a dozen paces the attention of the little
group was recalled to the Limousine by a loud scream of terror
from the lady who had remained seated therein.


Section 3

"Really this is too much!" cried Mr. Burleigh with a note of
genuine exasperation. "There must surely be police regulations to
prevent this kind of thing."

"It's out of some travelling menagerie," said the gentleman with
the eye-glass. "What ought we to do?"

"It looks tame," said Mr. Barnstaple, but without any impulse to
put his theory to the test.

"It might easily frighten people very seriously," said Mr. Burleigh.
And lifting up a bland voice he shouted: "Don't be alarmed, Stella!
It's probably quite tame and harmless. Don't _irritate_ it with that
sunshade. It might fly at you. Stel-_la_!"

"It" was a big and beautifully marked leopard which had come very
softly out of the flowers and sat down like a great cat in the
middle of the glass road at the side of the big car. It was blinking
and moving its head from side to side rhythmically, with an
expression of puzzled interest, as the lady, in accordance with the
best traditions of such cases, opened and shut her parasol at it as
rapidly as she could. The chauffeur had taken cover behind the car.
Mr. Rupert Catskill stood staring, knee-deep in flowers, apparently
only made aware of the creature's existence by the same scream that
had attracted the attention of Mr. Burleigh and his companions.

Mr. Catskill was the first to act, and his act showed his mettle.
It was at once discreet and bold. "Stop flopping that sunshade, Lady
Stella," he said. "Let me--I will--catch its eye."

He made a detour round the car so as to come face to face with the
animal. Then for a moment he stood, as it were displaying himself,
a resolute little figure in a grey frock coat and a black-banded
top hat. He held out a cautious hand, not too suddenly for fear of
startling the creature. "Poossy!" he said.

The leopard, relieved by the cessation of Lady Stella's sunshade,
regarded him with interest and curiosity. He drew closer. The
leopard extended its muzzle and sniffed.

"If it will only let me stroke it," said Mr. Catskill, and came
within arm's length.

The beast sniffed the extended hand with an expression of
incredulity. Then with a suddenness that sent Mr. Catskill back
several paces, it sneezed. It sneezed again much more violently,
regarded Mr. Catskill reproachfully for a moment and then leapt
lightly over the flower-bed and made off in the direction of
the white and golden colonnade. The grazing cattle in the field,
Mr. Barnstaple noted, watched its passage without the slightest
sign of dismay.

Mr. Catskill remained in a slightly expanded state in the middle
of the road. "No animal," he remarked, "can stand up to the
steadfast gaze of the human eye. Not one. It is a riddle for your
materialist.... Shall we join Mr. Cecil, Lady Stella? He seems to
have found something to look at down there. The man in the little
yellow car may know where he is. Hm?"

He assisted the lady to get out of the car and the two came on after
Mr. Barnstaple's party, which was now again approaching the burning
house. The chauffeur, evidently not wishing to be left alone with
the Limousine in this world of incredible possibilities, followed
as closely as respect permitted.



CHAPTER THE THIRD

THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE


Section 1

The fire in the little house did not seem to be making headway. The
smoke that came from it was much less now than when Mr. Barnstaple
had first observed it. As they came close they found a quantity of
twisted bits of bright metal and fragments of broken glass among the
shattered masonry. The suggestion of exploded scientific apparatus
was very strong. Then almost simultaneously the entire party became
aware of a body lying on the grassy slope behind the ruins. It was
the body of a man in the prime of life, naked except for a couple
of bracelets and a necklace and girdle, and blood was oozing from
his mouth and nostrils. With a kind of awe Mr. Barnstaple knelt
down beside this prostrate figure and felt its still heart. He had
never seen so beautiful a face and body before.

"_Dead_," he whispered.

"Look!" cried the shrill voice of the man with the eye-glass.
"Another!"

He was pointing to something that was hidden from Mr. Barnstaple by
a piece of wall. Mr. Barnstaple had to get up and climb over a heap
of rubble before he could see this second find. It was a slender
girl, clothed as little as the man. She had evidently been flung
with enormous violence against the wall and killed instantaneously.
Her face was quite undistorted although her skull had been crushed
in from behind; her perfect mouth and green-grey eyes were a little
open and her expression was that of one who is still thinking out
some difficult but interesting problem. She did not seem in the
least dead but merely disregardful. One hand still grasped a copper
implement with a handle of glass. The other lay limp and prone.

For some seconds nobody spoke. It was as if they all feared to
interrupt the current of her thoughts.

Then Mr. Barnstaple heard the voice of the priestly gentleman
speaking very softly behind him. "What a _perfect_ form!" he said.

"I admit I was wrong," said Mr. Burleigh with deliberation. "I have
been wrong.... These are no earthly people. Manifestly. And ergo,
we are not on earth. I cannot imagine what has happened nor where
we are. In the face of sufficient evidence I have never hesitated
to retract an opinion. This world we are in is not our world. It
is something--"

He paused. "It is something very wonderful indeed."

"And the Windsor party," said Mr. Catskill without any apparent
regret, "must have its lunch without us."

"But then," said the clerical gentleman, "what world _are_ we in,
and how did we get here?"

"Ah! _there_," said Mr. Burleigh blandly, "you go altogether beyond
my poor powers of guessing. We are here in some world that is
singularly like our world and singularly unlike it. It must be in
some way related to our world or we could not be here. But how it
can be related, is, I confess, a hopeless mystery to me. Maybe we
are in some other dimension of space than those we wot of. But my
poor head whirls at the thought of these dimensions. I am--I am
mazed--mazed."

"Einstein," injected the gentleman with the eye-glass compactly
and with evident self-satisfaction.

"Exactly!" said Mr. Burleigh. "Einstein might make it clear to us.
Or dear old Haldane might undertake to explain it and fog us up with
that adipose Hegelianism of his. But I am neither Haldane nor
Einstein. Here we are in some world which is, for all practical
purposes, including the purposes of our week-end engagements,
Nowhere. Or if you prefer the Greek of it, we are in Utopia. And
as I do not see that there is any manifest way out of it again, I
suppose the thing we have to do as rational creatures is to make
the best of it. And watch our opportunities. It is certainly a very
lovely world. The loveliness is even greater than the wonder. And
there are human beings here--with minds. I judge from all this
material lying about, it is a world in which experimental chemistry
is pursued--pursued indeed to the bitter end--under almost idyllic
conditions. Chemistry--and nakedness. I feel bound to confess that
whether we are to regard these two people who have apparently just
blown themselves up here as Greek gods or as naked savages, seems to
me to be altogether a question of individual taste. I admit a bias
for the Greek god--and goddess."

"Except that it is a little difficult to think of two dead
immortals," squeaked the gentleman of the eye-glass in the tone
of one who scores a point.

Mr. Burleigh was about to reply, and to judge from his ruffled
expression his reply would have been of a disciplinary nature.
But instead he exclaimed sharply and turned round to face two
newcomers. The whole party had become aware of them at the same
moment. Two stark Apollos stood over the ruin and were regarding
our Earthlings with an astonishment at least as great as that
they created.

One spoke, and Mr. Barnstaple was astonished beyond measure to find
understandable words reverberating in his mind.

"Red Gods!" cried the Utopian. "What things are you? And how did
you get into the world?"

(English! It would have been far less astounding if they had spoken
Greek. But that they should speak any known language was a matter
for incredulous amazement.)


Section 2

Mr. Cecil Burleigh was the least disconcerted of the party. "Now,"
he said, "we may hope to learn something definite--face to face with
rational and articulate creatures."

He cleared his throat, grasped the lapels of his long dust-coat with
two long nervous hands and assumed the duties of spokesman. "We are
quite unable, gentlemen, to account for our presence here," he said.
"We are as puzzled as you are. We have discovered ourselves suddenly
in your world instead of our own."

"You come from another world?"

"Exactly. A quite different world. In which we have all our natural
and proper places. We were travelling in that world of ours
in--Ah!--certain vehicles, when suddenly we discovered ourselves
here. Intruders, I admit, but, I can assure you, innocent and
unpremeditated intruders."

"You do not know how it is that Arden and Greenlake have failed in
their experiment and how it is that they are dead?"

"If Arden and Greenlake are the names of these two beautiful young
people here, we know nothing about them except that we found them
lying as you see them when we came from the road hither to find out
or, in fact, to inquire--"

He cleared his throat and left his sentence with a floating end.

The Utopian, if we may for convenience call him that, who had first
spoken, looked now at his companion and seemed to question him
mutely. Then he turned to the Earthlings again. He spoke and again
those clear tones rang, not--so it seemed to Mr. Barnstaple--in his
ears but within his head.

"It will be well if you and your friends do not trample this
wreckage. It will be well if you all return to the road. Come with
me. My brother here will put an end to this burning and do what
needs to be done to our brother and sister. And afterwards this
place will be examined by those who understand the work that was
going on here."

"We must throw ourselves entirely upon your hospitality," said Mr.
Burleigh. "We are entirely at your disposal. This encounter, let
me repeat, was not of our seeking."

"Though we should certainly have sought it if we had known of its
possibility," said Mr. Catskill, addressing the world at large and
glancing at Mr. Barnstaple as if for confirmation. "We find this
world of yours--_most_ attractive."

"At the first encounter," the gentleman with the eye-glass endorsed,
"a _most_ attractive world."

As they returned through the thick-growing flowers to the road,
in the wake of the Utopian and Mr. Burleigh, Mr. Barnstaple found
Lady Stella rustling up beside him. Her words, in this setting
of pure wonder, filled him with amazement at their serene and
invincible ordinariness. "Haven't we met before somewhere--at
lunch or something--Mr.--Mr.--?"

Was all this no more than a show? He stared at her blankly for a
moment before supplying her with:

"Barnstaple."

"Mr. Barnstaple?"

His mind came into line with hers.

"I've never had that pleasure, Lady Stella. Though, of course, I
know you--I know you very well from your photographs in the weekly
illustrated papers."

"Did you hear what it was that Mr. Cecil was saying just now?
About this being Utopia?"

"He said we might _call_ it Utopia."

"So like Mr. Cecil. But is it Utopia?--_really_ Utopia?

"I've always longed so to be in Utopia," the lady went on without
waiting for Mr. Barnstaple's reply to her question. "What splendid
young men these two Utopians appear to be! They must, I am sure,
belong to its aristocracy--in spite of their--informal--costume.
Or even because of it."...

Mr. Barnstaple had a happy thought. "I have also recognized Mr.
Burleigh and Mr. Rupert Catskill, Lady Stella, but I should be so
glad if you would tell me who the young gentleman with the eye-glass
is, and the clerical gentleman. They are close behind us."

Lady Stella imparted her information in a charmingly confidential
undertone. "The eye-glass," she murmured, "is--I am going to spell
it--F.R.E.D.D.Y. M.U.S.H. Taste. Good taste. He is awfully clever at
finding out young poets and all that sort of literary thing. And
he's Rupert's secretary. If there is a literary Academy, they say,
he's certain to be in it. He's dreadfully critical and sarcastic. We
were going to Taplow for a perfectly intellectual week-end, quite
like the old times. So soon as the Windsor people had gone again,
that is.... Mr. Gosse was coming and Max Beerbohm--and everyone
like that. But nowadays something always happens. Always.... The
unexpected--almost excessively.... The clerical collar"--she
glanced back to judge whether she was within earshot of the
gentleman under discussion--"is Father Amerton, who is so dreadfully
outspoken about the sins of society and all _that_ sort of thing.
It's odd, but out of the pulpit he's inclined to be shy and quiet and
a little awkward with the forks and spoons. Paradoxical, isn't it?"

"Of _course_!" cried Mr. Barnstaple. "I remember him now. I knew his
face but I couldn't place it. Thank you so much, Lady Stella."


Section 3

There was something very reassuring to Mr. Barnstaple in the company
of these famous and conspicuous people and particularly in the
company of Lady Stella. She was indeed heartening: she brought so
much of the dear old world with her, and she was so manifestly
prepared to subjugate this new world to its standards at the
earliest possible opportunity. She fended off much of the wonder and
beauty that had threatened to submerge Mr. Barnstaple altogether.
Meeting her and her company was in itself for a man in his position
a minor but considerable adventure that helped to bridge the gulf
of astonishment between the humdrum of his normal experiences and
this all too bracing Utopian air. It solidified, it--if one may use
the word in such a connexion--it _degraded_ the luminous splendour
about him towards complete credibility that it should also be seen
and commented on by her and by Mr. Burleigh, and viewed through the
appraising monocle of Mr. Freddy Mush. It brought it within range
of the things that get into the newspapers. Mr. Barnstaple alone
in Utopia might have been so completely overawed as to have been
mentally overthrown. This easy-mannered brown-skinned divinity who
was now exchanging questions with Mr. Burleigh was made mentally
accessible by that great man's intervention.

Yet it was with something very like a catching of the breath that
Mr. Barnstaple's attention reverted from the Limousine people to
this noble-seeming world into which he and they had fallen. What
sort of beings really were these men and women of a world where
ill-bred weeds, it seemed, had ceased to thrust and fight amidst
the flowers, and where leopards void of feline malice looked out
with friendly eyes upon the passer-by?

It was astounding that the first two inhabitants they had found
in this world of subjugated nature should be lying dead, victims,
it would seem, of some hazardous experiment. It was still more
astonishing that this other pair who called themselves the brothers
of the dead man and woman should betray so little grief or dismay
at the tragedy. There had been no emotional scene at all, Mr.
Barnstaple realized, no consternation or weeping. They were
evidently much more puzzled and interested than either horrified
or distressed.

The Utopian who had remained in the ruin, had carried out the body
of the girl to lay it beside her companion's, and he had now, Mr.
Barnstaple saw, returned to a close scrutiny of the wreckage of the
experiment.

But now more of these people were coming upon the scene. They had
aeroplanes in this world, for two small ones, noiseless and swift in
their flight as swallows, had landed in the fields near by. A man
had come up along the road on a machine like a small two-wheeled
two-seater with its wheels in series, bicycle fashion; lighter and
neater it was than any earthly automobile and mysteriously able to
stand up on its two wheels while standing still. A burst of laughter
from down the road called Mr. Barnstaple's attention to a group
of these Utopians who had apparently found something exquisitely
ridiculous in the engine of the Limousine. Most of these people
were as scantily clothed and as beautifully built as the two dead
experimentalists, but one or two were wearing big hats of straw,
and one who seemed to be an older woman of thirty or more wore a
robe of white bordered by an intense red line. She was speaking now
to Mr. Burleigh.

Although she was a score of yards away, her speech
presented itself in Mr. Barnstaple's mind with great distinctness.

"We do not even know as yet what connexion your coming into our world
may have with the explosion that has just happened here or whether,
indeed, it has any connexion. We want to inquire into both these
things. It will be reasonable, we think, to take you and all the
possessions you have brought with you to a convenient place for a
conference not very far from here. We are arranging for machines to
take you thither. There perhaps you will eat. I do not know when you
are accustomed to eat?"

"Refreshment," said Mr. Burleigh, rather catching at the idea. "Some
refreshment would certainly be acceptable before very long. In fact,
had we not fallen so sharply out of our own world into yours, by
this time we should have been lunching--lunching in the best of
company."

"Wonder and lunch," thought Mr. Barnstaple. Man is a creature who
must eat by necessity whether he wonder or no. Mr. Barnstaple
perceived indeed that he was already hungry and that the air he
was breathing was a keen and appetizing air.

The Utopian seemed struck by a novel idea. "Do you eat several times
a day? What sort of things do you eat?"

"Oh! Surely! They're _not_ vegetarians!" cried Mr. Mush sharply in
a protesting parenthesis, dropping his eye-glass from its socket.

They were all hungry. It showed upon their faces.

"We are all accustomed to eat several times a day," said Mr.
Burleigh. "Perhaps it would be well if I were to give you a brief
resume of our dietary. There may be differences. We begin, as
a rule, with a simple cup of tea and the thinnest slice of
bread-and-butter brought to the bedside. Then comes breakfast."...
He proceeded to a masterly summary of his gastronomic day,
giving clearly and attractively the particulars of an English
breakfast, eggs to be boiled four and a half minutes, neither more
nor less, lunch with any light wine, tea rather a social rally
than a serious meal, dinner, in some detail, the occasional resort
to supper. It was one of those clear statements which would have
rejoiced the House of Commons, light, even gay, and yet with
a trace of earnestness. The Utopian woman regarded him with
deepening interest as he proceeded. "Do you all eat in this
fashion?" she asked.

Mr. Burleigh ran his eye over his party. "I cannot answer for
Mr.--Mr.--?"

"Barnstaple.... Yes, I eat in much the same fashion."

For some reason the Utopian woman smiled at him. She had very
pretty brown eyes, and though he liked her to smile he wished that
she had not smiled in the way she did.

"And you sleep?" she asked.

"From six to ten hours, according to circumstances," said
Mr. Burleigh.

"And you make love?"

The question perplexed and to a certain extent shocked our
Earthlings. What exactly did she mean? For some moments no one
framed a reply. Mr. Barnstaple's mind was filled with a hurrying
rush of strange possibilities.

Then Mr. Burleigh, with his fine intelligence and the quick
evasiveness of a modern leader of men, stepped into the breach.
"Not habitually, I can assure you," he said. "Not habitually."

The woman with the red-bordered robe seemed to think this over for
a swift moment. Then she smiled faintly.

"We must take you somewhere where we can talk of all these things,"
she said. "Manifestly you come from some strange other world. Our
men of knowledge must get together with you and exchange ideas."


Section 4

At half-past ten that morning Mr. Barnstaple had been motoring
along the main road through Slough, and now at half-past one he
was soaring through wonderland with his own world half forgotten.
"Marvellous," he repeated. "Marvellous. I knew that I should have
a good holiday. But _this_, _this_--!"

He was extraordinarily happy with the bright unclouded happiness
of a perfect dream. Never before had he enjoyed the delights of an
explorer in new lands, never before had he hoped to experience these
delights. Only a few weeks before he had written an article for the
Liberal lamenting the "End of the Age of Exploration," an article so
thoroughly and aimlessly depressing that it had pleased Mr. Peeve
extremely. He recalled that exploit now with but the faintest twinge
of remorse.

The Earthling party had been distributed among four small
aeroplanes, and as Mr. Barnstaple and his companion, Father Amerton,
rose in the air, he looked back to see the automobiles and luggage
being lifted with astonishing ease into two lightly built lorries.
Each lorry put out a pair of glittering arms and lifted up its
automobile as a nurse might lift up a baby.

By contemporary earthly standards of safety Mr. Barnstaple's aviator
flew very low. There were times when he passed between trees rather
than over them, and this, even if at first it was a little alarming,
permitted a fairly close inspection of the landscape. For the
earlier part of the journey it was garden pasture with grazing
creamy cattle and patches of brilliantly coloured vegetation of a
nature unknown to Mr. Barnstaple. Amidst this cultivation narrow
tracks, which may have been foot or cycle tracks, threaded their
way. Here and there ran a road bordered with flowers and shaded
by fruit trees.

There were few houses and no towns or villages at all. The houses
varied very greatly in size, from little isolated buildings which
Mr. Barnstaple thought might be elegant summer-houses or little
temples, to clusters of roofs and turrets which reminded him
of country chateaux or suggested extensive farming or dairying
establishments. Here and there people were working in the fields
or going to and fro on foot or on machines, but the effect of the
whole was of an extremely underpopulated land.

It became evident that they were going to cross the range of snowy
mountains that had so suddenly blotted the distant view of Windsor
Castle from the landscape.

As they approached these mountains, broad stretches of golden
corn-land replaced the green of the pastures and then the
cultivation became more diversified. He noted unmistakable vineyards
on sunny slopes, and the number of workers visible and the
habitations multiplied. The little squadron of aeroplanes flew up
a broad valley towards a pass so that Mr. Barnstaple was able to
scrutinize the mountain scenery. Came chestnut woods and at last
pines. There were Cyclopean turbines athwart the mountain torrents
and long, low, many-windowed buildings that might serve some
industrial purpose. A skilfully graded road with exceedingly bold,
light and beautiful viaducts mounted towards the pass. There were
more people, he thought, in the highland country than in the levels
below, though still far fewer than he would have seen upon any
comparable countryside on earth.

Ten minutes of craggy desolation with the snow-fields of a great
glacier on one side intervened before he descended into the upland
valley on the Conference Place where presently he alighted. This
was a sort of lap in the mountain, terraced by masonry so boldly
designed that it seemed a part of the geological substance of the
mountain itself. It faced towards a wide artificial lake retained by
a stupendous dam from the lower reaches of the valley. At intervals
along this dam there were great stone pillars dimly suggestive of
seated figures. He glimpsed a wide plain beyond, which reminded him
of the valley of the Po, and then as he descended the straight line
of the dam came up to hide this further vision.

Upon these terraces, and particularly upon the lower ones, were
groups and clusters of flowerlike buildings, and he distinguished
paths and steps and pools of water as if the whole place were a
garden.

The aeroplanes made an easy landing on a turfy expanse. Close at
hand was a graceful chalet that ran out from the shores of the lake
over the water, and afforded mooring to a flotilla of gaily coloured
boats....

It was Father Amerton who had drawn Mr. Barnstaple's attention to
the absence of villages. He now remarked that there was no church
in sight and that nowhere had they seen any spires or belfries.
But Mr. Barnstaple thought that some of the smaller buildings might
be temples or shrines. "Religion may take different forms here,"
he said.

"And how few babies or little children are visible!" Father Amerton
remarked. "Nowhere have I seen a mother with her child."

"On the other, side of the mountains there was a place like the
playing field of a big school. There were children there and one or
two older people dressed in white."

"I saw that. But I was thinking of babes. Compare this with what
one would see in Italy.

"The most beautiful and desirable young women," added the reverend
gentleman; "_most_ desirable--and not a sign of maternity!"

Their aviator, a sun-tanned blond with very blue eyes, helped them
out of his machine, and they stood watching the descent of the other
members of their party. Mr. Barnstaple was astonished to note how
rapidly he was becoming familiarized with the colour and harmony of
this new world; the strangest things in the whole spectacle now were
the figures and clothing of his associates. Mr. Rupert Catskill
in his celebrated grey top hat, Mr. Mush with his preposterous
eye-glass, the peculiar long slenderness of Mr. Burleigh, and the
square leather-clad lines of Mr. Burleigh's chauffeur, struck him as
being far more incredible than the graceful Utopian forms about him.

The aviator's interest and amusement enhanced Mr. Barnstaple's
perception of his companions' oddity. And then came a wave of
profound doubt.

"I suppose this is _really_ real," he said to Father Amerton.

"Really real! What else can it be?"

"I suppose we are not dreaming all this."

"Are your dreams and my dreams likely to coincide?"

"Yes; but there are quite impossible things--absolutely impossible
things."

"As, for instance?"

"Well, how is it that these people are speaking to us in
English--modern English?"

"I never thought of that. It is rather incredible. They don't talk
in English to one another."

Mr. Barnstaple stared in round-eyed amazement at Father Amerton,
struck for the first time by a still more incredible fact. "They
don't talk in _anything_ to one another," he said. "And we haven't
noticed it until this moment!"



CHAPTER THE FOURTH

THE SHADOW OF EINSTEIN FALLS ACROSS THE STORY BUT PASSES LIGHTLY BY


Section 1

Except for that one perplexing fact that all these Utopians had
apparently a complete command of idiomatic English, Mr. Barnstaple
found his vision of this new world developing with a congruity that
no dream in his experience had ever possessed. It was so coherent,
so orderly, that less and less was it like a strange world at all
and more and more like an arrival in some foreign but very highly
civilized country.

Under the direction of the brown-eyed woman in the scarlet-edged
robe, the Earthlings were established in their quarters near the
Conference Place in the most hospitable and comfortable fashion
conceivable. Five or six youths and girls made it their business to
initiate the strangers in the little details of Utopian domesticity.
The separate buildings in which they were lodged had each an
agreeable little dressing-room, and the bed, which had sheets of
the finest linen and a very light puffy coverlet, stood in an open
loggia--too open Lady Stella thought, but then as she said, "One
feels so safe here." The luggage appeared and the valises were
identified as if they were in some hospitable earthly mansion.

But Lady Stella had to turn two rather too friendly youths out of
her apartment before she could open her dressing-bag and administer
refreshment to her complexion.

A few minutes later some excitement was caused by an outbreak of
wild laughter and the sounds of an amiable but hysterical struggle
that came from Lady Stella's retreat. The girl who had remained with
her had displayed a quite feminine interest in her equipment and had
come upon a particularly charming and diaphanous sleeping suit. For
some obscure reason this secret daintiness amused the young Utopian
extremely, and it was with some difficulty that Lady Stella
restrained her from putting the garment on and dancing out in it
for a public display. "Then _you_ put it on," the girl insisted.

"But you don't understand," cried Lady Stella. "It's almost--_sacred_!
It's for nobody to see--_ever_."

"But _why_?" the Utopian asked, puzzled beyond measure.

Lady Stella found an answer impossible.

The light meal that followed was by terrestrial standards an
entirely satisfactory one. The anxiety of Mr. Freddy Mush was
completely allayed: there were cold chicken and ham and a very
pleasant meat pate. There were also rather coarse-grained but most
palatable bread, pure butter, an exquisite salad, fruit, cheese
of the Gruyere type, and a light white wine which won from Mr.
Burleigh the tribute that "Moselle never did anything better."

"You find our food very like your own?" asked the woman in the
red-trimmed robe.

"Eckquithit quality," said Mr. Mush with his mouth rather full.

"Food has changed very little in the last three thousand years.
People had found out all the best things to eat long before the Last
Age of Confusion."

"It's too real to be real," Mr. Barnstaple repeated to himself.
"Too real to be real."

He looked at his companions, elated, interested and eating with
appreciation.

If it wasn't for the absurdity of these Utopians speaking English
with a clearness that tapped like a hammer inside his head Mr.
Barnstaple would have had no doubt whatever of its reality.

No servants waited at the clothless stone table; the woman in the
white and scarlet robe and the two aviators shared the meal and the
guests attended to each other's requirements. Mr. Burleigh's
chauffeur was for modestly shrinking to another table until the
great statesman reassured him with: "Sit down there, Penk. Next to
Mr. Mush." Other Utopians with friendly but keenly observant eyes
upon the Earthlings came into the great pillared veranda in which
the meal had been set, and smiled and stood about or sat down. There
were no introductions and few social formalities.

"All this is most reassuring," said Mr. Burleigh. "Most reassuring.
I'm bound to say these beat the Chatsworth peaches. Is that cream,
my dear Rupert, in the little brown jar in front of you?... I
guessed as much. If you are sure you can spare it, Rupert....
Thank you."


Section 2

Several of the Utopians made themselves known by name to the
Earthlings. All their voices sounded singularly alike to Mr.
Barnstaple and the words were as clear as print. The brown-eyed
woman's name was Lychnis. A man with a beard who might perhaps, Mr.
Barnstaple thought, have been as old as forty, was either Urthred
or Adam or Edom, the name for all its sharpness of enunciation had
been very difficult to catch. It was as if large print _hesitated_.
Urthred conveyed that he was an ethnologist and historian and that
he desired to learn all that he possibly could about the ways of our
world. He impressed Mr. Barnstaple as having the easy carriage of
some earthly financier or great newspaper proprietor rather than the
diffidence natural in our own every-day world to a merely learned
man. Another of their hosts, Serpentine, was also, Mr. Barnstaple
learnt with surprise, for his bearing too was almost masterful, a
scientific man. He called himself something that Mr. Barnstaple
could not catch. First it sounded like "atomic mechanician," and
then oddly enough it sounded like "molecular chemist." And then
Mr. Barnstaple heard Mr. Burleigh say to Mr. Mush, "He said
'physio-chemist,' didn't he?"

"_I_ thought he just called himself a materialist," said Mr. Mush.

"I thought he said he weighed things," said Lady Stella.

"Their intonation is peculiar," said Mr. Burleigh. "Sometimes they
are almost too loud for comfort and then there is a kind of gap in
the sounds."...

When the meal was at an end the whole party removed to another
little building that was evidently planned for classes and
discussions. It had a semicircular apse round which ran a series of
white tablets which evidently functioned at times as a lecturer's
blackboard, since there were black and coloured pencils and cloths
for erasure lying on a marble ledge at a convenient height below
the tablets. The lecturer could walk from point to point of this
semicircle as he talked. Lychnis, Urthred, Serpentine and the
Earthlings seated themselves on a semicircular bench below this
lecturer's track, and there was accommodation for about eighty or a
hundred people upon the seats before them. All these were occupied,
and beyond stood a number of graceful groups against a background
of rhododendron-like bushes, between which Mr. Barnstaple caught
glimpses of grassy vistas leading down to the shining waters of
the lake.

They were going to talk over this extraordinary irruption into
their world. Could anything be more reasonable than to talk it
over? Could anything be more fantastically impossible?

"Odd that there are no swallows," said Mr. Mush suddenly in Mr.
Barnstaple's ear. "I wonder why there are no swallows."

Mr. Barnstaple's attention went to the empty sky. "No gnats nor
flies perhaps," he suggested. It was odd that he had not missed
the swallows before.

"Sssh!" said Lady Stella. "He's beginning."


Section 3

This incredible conference began. It was opened by the man named
Serpentine, and he stood before his audience and seemed to make
a speech. His lips moved, his hands assisted his statements; his
expression followed his utterance. And yet Mr. Barnstaple had the
most subtle and indefensible doubt whether indeed Serpentine was
speaking. There was something odd about the whole thing. Sometimes
the thing said sounded with a peculiar resonance in his head;
sometimes it was indistinct and elusive like an object seen through
troubled waters; sometimes though Serpentine still moved his fine
hands and looked towards his hearers, there were gaps of absolute
silence--as if for brief intervals Mr. Barnstaple had gone deaf....
Yet it was a discourse; it held together and it held Mr.
Barnstaple's attention.

Serpentine had the manner of one who is taking great pains to be as
simple as possible with a rather intricate question. He spoke, as it
were, in propositions with a pause between each. "It had long been
known," he began, "that the possible number of dimensions, like
the possible number of anything else that could be enumerated, was
unlimited!"

Yes, Mr. Barnstaple had got that, but it proved too much for Mr.
Freddy Mush.

"Oh, Lord!" he said. "Dimensions!" and dropped his eye-glass and
became despondently inattentive.

"For most practical purposes," Serpentine continued, "the
particular universe, the particular system of events, in which we
found ourselves and of which we formed part, could be regarded as
occurring in a space of three rectilinear dimensions and as
undergoing translation, which translation was in fact duration,
through a fourth dimension, _time_. Such a system of events was
necessarily a gravitational system."

"Er!" said Mr. Burleigh sharply. "Excuse me! I don't see that."

So he, at any rate, was following it too.

"Any universe that endures must necessarily gravitate," Serpentine
repeated, as if he were asserting some self-evident fact.

"For the life of me I can't see that," said Mr. Burleigh after a
moment's reflection.

Serpentine considered him for a moment. "It _is_ so," he said,
and went on with his discourse. Our minds, he continued, had been
evolved in the form of this practical conception of things, they
accepted it as true, and it was only by great efforts of sustained
analysis that we were able to realize that this universe in which
we lived not only extended but was, as it were, slightly bent
and contorted, into a number of other long unsuspected spatial
dimensions. It extended beyond its three chief spatial dimensions
into these others just as a thin sheet of paper, which is
practically two dimensional, extended not only by virtue of its
thickness but also of its crinkles and curvature into a third
dimension.

"Am I going deaf?" asked Lady Stella in a stage whisper. "I can't
catch a word of all this."

"Nor I," said Father Amerton.

Mr. Burleigh made a pacifying gesture towards these unfortunates
without taking his eyes off Serpentine's face. Mr. Barnstaple
knitted his brows, clasped his knees, knotted his fingers, held
on desperately.

He _must_ be hearing--of course he was hearing!

Serpentine proceeded to explain that just as it would be possible
for any number of practically two-dimensional universes to lie side
by side, like sheets of paper, in a three-dimensional space, so in
the many-dimensional space about which the ill-equipped human mind
is still slowly and painfully acquiring knowledge, it is possible
for an innumerable quantity of practically three-dimensional
universes to lie, as it were, side by side and to undergo a roughly
parallel movement through time. The speculative work of Lonestone
and Cephalus had long since given the soundest basis for the belief
that there actually were a very great number of such space-and-time
universes, parallel to one another and resembling each other,
nearly but not exactly, much as the leaves of a book might resemble
one another. All of them would have duration, all of them would be
gravitating systems--

(Mr. Burleigh shook his head to show that still he didn't see it.)

--And those lying closest together would most nearly resemble each
other. How closely they now had an opportunity of learning. For the
daring attempts of those two great geniuses, Arden and Greenlake, to
use the--(inaudible)--thrust of the atom to rotate a portion of the
Utopian material universe in that dimension, the F dimension, into
which it had long been known to extend for perhaps the length of a
man's arm, to rotate this fragment of Utopian matter, much as a gate
is swung on its hinges, had manifestly been altogether successful.
The gate had swung back again bringing with it a breath of close
air, a storm of dust and, to the immense amazement of Utopia,
three sets of visitors from an unknown world.

"_Three_?" whispered Mr. Barnstaple doubtfully. "Did he say _three_?"

[Serpentine disregarded him.]

"Our brother and sister have been killed by some unexpected release
of force, but their experiment has opened a way that now need never
be closed again, out of the present spatial limitations of Utopia
into a whole vast folio of hitherto unimagined worlds. Close at
hand to us, even as Lonestone guessed ages ago, nearer to us, as
he put it, than the blood in our hearts--"

("Nearer to us than breathing and closer than hands and feet,"
Father Amerton misquoted, waking up suddenly. "But what is he
talking about? I don't catch it.")

"--we discover another planet, much the same size as ours to judge
by the scale of its inhabitants, circulating, we may certainly
assume, round a sun like that in our skies, a planet bearing life
and being slowly subjugated, even as our own is being subjugated,
by intelligent life which has evidently evolved under almost exactly
parallel conditions to those of our own evolution. This sister
universe to ours is, so far as we may judge by appearances, a little
retarded in time in relation to our own. Our visitors wear something
very like the clothing and display physical characteristics
resembling those of our ancestors during the Last Age of Confusion....

"We are not yet justified in supposing that their history has been
strictly parallel to ours. No two particles of matter are alike;
no two vibrations. In all the dimensions of being, in all the
universes of God, there has never been and there can never be an
exact repetition. That we have come to realize is the one impossible
thing. Nevertheless, this world you call Earth is manifestly very
near and like to this universe of ours....

"We are eager to learn from you Earthlings, to check our history,
which is still very imperfectly known, by your experiences, to show
you what we know, to make out what may be possible and desirable in
intercourse and help between the people of your planet and ours. We,
here, are the merest beginners in knowledge; we have learnt as yet
scarcely anything more than the immensity of the things that we have
yet to learn and do. In a million kindred things our two worlds may
perhaps teach each other and help each other....

"Possibly there are streaks of heredity in your planet that have
failed to develop or that have died out in ours. Possibly there are
elements or minerals in one world that are rare or wanting in the
other.... The structure of your atoms (?)...our worlds may
intermarry (?)...to their common invigoration...."

He passed into the inaudible just when Mr. Barnstaple was most
moved and most eager to follow what he was saying. Yet a deaf man
would have judged he was still speaking.

Mr. Barnstaple met the eye of Mr. Rupert Catskill, as distressed
and puzzled as his own. Father Amerton's face was buried in his
hands. Lady Stella and Mr. Mush were whispering softly together;
they had long since given up any pretence of listening.

"Such," said Serpentine, abruptly becoming audible again, "is our
first rough interpretation of your apparition in our world and of
the possibilities of our interaction. I have put our ideas before
you as plainly as I can. I would suggest that now one of you tell
us simply and plainly what _you_ conceive to be the truth about
your world in relation to ours."



CHAPTER THE FIFTH

THE GOVERNANCE AND HISTORY OF UTOPIA


Section 1

Came a pause. The Earthlings looked at one another and their gaze
seemed to converge upon Mr. Cecil Burleigh. That statesman feigned
to be unaware of the general expectation. "Rupert," he said.
"Won't _you_?"

"I reserve my comments," said Mr. Catskill. "Father Amerton, you
are accustomed to treat of other worlds."

"Not in your presence, Mr. Cecil. No."

"But what am I to tell them?"

"What you think of it," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"Exactly," said Mr. Catskill. "Tell them what you think of it."

No one else appeared to be worthy of consideration. Mr. Burleigh
rose slowly and walked thoughtfully to the centre of the semicircle.
He grasped his coat lapels and remained for some moments with
face downcast as if considering what he was about to say. "Mr.
Serpentine," he began at last, raising a candid countenance and
regarding the blue sky above the distant lake through his glasses.
"Ladies and Gentlemen--"

He was going to make a speech!--as though he was at a Primrose
League garden party--or Geneva. It was preposterous and yet, what
else was there to be done?

"I must confess, Sir, that although I am by no means a novice at
public speaking, I find myself on this occasion somewhat at a loss.
Your admirable discourse, Sir, simple, direct, lucid, compact, and
rising at times to passages of unaffected eloquence, has set me a
pattern that I would fain follow--and before which, in all modesty,
I quail. You ask me to tell you as plainly and clearly as possible
the outline facts as we conceive them about this kindred world out
of which with so little premeditation we have come to you. So far as
my poor powers of understanding or discussing such recondite matters
go, I do not think I can better or indeed supplement in any way your
marvellous exposition of the mathematical aspects of the case. What
you have told us embodies the latest, finest thoughts of terrestrial
science and goes, indeed, far beyond our current ideas. On certain
matters, in, for example, the relationship of time and gravitation,
I feel bound to admit that I do not go with you, but that is rather
a failure to understand your position than any positive dissent.
Upon the broader aspects of the case there need be no difficulties
between us. We accept your main proposition unreservedly; namely,
that we conceive ourselves to be living in a parallel universe
to yours, on a planet the very brother of your own, indeed quite
amazingly like yours, having regard to all the possible contrasts
we might have found here. We are attracted by and strongly disposed
to accept your view that our system is, in all probability, a
little less seasoned and mellowed by the touch of time than yours,
short perhaps by some hundreds or some thousands of years of your
experiences. Assuming this, it is inevitable, Sir, that a certain
humility should mingle in our attitude towards you. As your juniors
it becomes us not to instruct but to learn. It is for us to ask:
What have you done? To what have you reached? rather than to display
to you with an artless arrogance all that still remains for us to
learn and do...."

"No!" said Mr. Barnstaple to himself but half audibly. "This is a
dream.... If it were anyone else...."

He rubbed his knuckles into his eyes and opened them again, and
there he was still, sitting next to Mr. Mush in the midst of these
Olympian divinities. And Mr. Burleigh, that polished sceptic, who
never believed, who was never astonished, was leaning forward on
his toes and speaking, speaking, with the assurance of a man who
has made ten thousand speeches. He could not have been more sure
of himself and his audience in the Guildhall in London. And they
were understanding him! Which was absurd!

There was nothing to do but to fall in with this stupendous
absurdity--and sit and listen. Sometimes Mr. Barnstaple's mind
wandered altogether from what Mr. Burleigh was saying. Then it
returned and hung desperately to his discourse. In his halting,
parliamentary way, his hands trifling with his glasses or clinging
to the lapels of his coat, Mr. Burleigh was giving Utopia a brief
account of the world of men, seeking to be elementary and lucid
and reasonable, telling them of states and empires, of wars and
the Great War, of economic organization and disorganization, of
revolutions and Bolshevism, of the terrible Russian famine that
was beginning, of the difficulties of finding honest statesmen
and officials, and of the unhelpfulness of newspapers, of all the
dark and troubled spectacle of human life. Serpentine had used the
term "the Last Age of Confusion," and Mr. Burleigh had seized upon
the phrase and was making much of it....

It was a great oratorical impromptu. It must have gone on for an
hour, and the Utopians listened with keen, attentive faces, now and
then nodding their acceptance and recognition of this statement or
that. "Very like," would come tapping into Mr. Barnstaple's brain.
"With us also--in the Age of Confusion."

At last Mr. Burleigh, with the steady deliberation of an old
parliamentary hand, drew to his end. Compliments.

He bowed. He had done. Mr. Mush startled everyone by a vigorous
hand-clapping in which no one else joined.

The tension in Mr. Barnstaple's mind had become intolerable.
He leapt to his feet.


Section 2

He stood making those weak propitiatory gestures that come so
naturally to the inexperienced speaker. "Ladies and Gentlemen," he
said. "Utopians, Mr. Burleigh! I crave your pardon for a moment.
There is a little matter. Urgent."

For a brief interval he was speechless.

Then he found attention and encouragement in the eye of Urthred.

"Something I don't understand. Something incredible--I mean,
incompatible. The little rift. Turns everything into a fantastic
phantasmagoria."

The intelligence in Urthred's eye was very encouraging. Mr.
Barnstaple abandoned any attempt to address the company as a whole,
and spoke directly to Urthred.

"You live in Utopia, hundreds of thousands of years in advance of
us. How is it that you are able to talk contemporary English--to use
exactly the same language that we do? I ask you, how is that? It is
incredible. It jars. It makes a dream of you. And yet you are not a
dream? It makes me feel--almost--insane."

Urthred smiled pleasantly. "We _don't_ speak English," he said.

Mr. Barnstaple felt the ground slipping from under his feet. "But
I _hear_ you speaking English," he said.

"Nevertheless we do not speak it," said Urthred.

He smiled still more broadly. "We don't--for ordinary
purposes--speak anything."

Mr. Barnstaple, with his brain resigning its functions, maintained
his pose of deferential attention.

"Ages ago," Urthred continued, "we certainly used to speak
languages. We made sounds and we heard sounds. People used to think,
and then chose and arranged words and uttered them. The hearer
heard, noted, and retranslated the sounds into ideas. Then, in some
manner which we still do not understand perfectly, people began to
_get_ the idea before it was clothed in words and uttered in sounds.
They began to hear in their minds, as soon as the speaker had
arranged his ideas and before he put them into word symbols even in
his own mind. They knew what he was going to say before he said it.
This direct transmission presently became common; it was found out
that with a little effort most people could get over to each other
in this fashion to some extent, and the new mode of communication
was developed systematically.

"That is what we do now habitually in this world. We think directly
_to_ each other. We determine to convey the thought and it is
conveyed at once--provided the distance is not too great. We use
sounds in this world now only for poetry and pleasure and in moments
of emotion or to shout at a distance, or with animals, not for
the transmission of ideas from human mind to kindred human mind
any more. When I think to you, the thought, so far as it finds
corresponding ideas and suitable words in your mind, is reflected
in your mind. My thought clothes itself in words in your mind,
which words you seem to hear--and naturally enough in your own
language and your own habitual phrases. Very probably the members
of your party are hearing what I am saying to you, each with his
own individual difference of vocabulary and phrasing."

Mr. Barnstaple had been punctuating this discourse with sharp,
intelligent nods, coming now and then to the verge of interruption.
Now he broke out with: "And that is why occasionally--as for
instance when Mr. Serpentine made his wonderful explanation just
now--when you soar into ideas of which we haven't even a shadow
in our minds, we just hear nothing at all."

"Are there such gaps?" asked Urthred.

"Many, I fear--for all of us," said Mr. Burleigh.

"It's like being deaf in spots," said Lady Stella. "Large spots."

Father Amerton nodded agreement.

"And that is why we cannot be clear whether you are called Urthred
or Adam, and why I have found myself confusing Arden and Greentrees
and Forest in my mind."

"I hope that now you are mentally more at your case?" said Urthred.

"Oh, quite," said Mr. Barnstaple. "Quite. And all things considered,
it is really very convenient for us that there should be this method
of transmission. For otherwise I do not see how we could have
avoided weeks of linguistic bother, first principles of our
respective grammars, logic, significs, and so forth, boring stuff
for the most part, before we could have got to anything like our
present understanding."

"A very good point indeed," said Mr. Burleigh, turning round to Mr.
Barnstaple in a very friendly way. "A very good point indeed. I
should never have noted it if you had not called my attention to it.
It is quite extraordinary; I had not noted anything of this--this
difference. I was occupied, I am bound to confess, by my own
thoughts. I supposed they were speaking English. Took it for
granted."


Section 3

It seemed to Mr. Barnstaple that this wonderful experience was now
so complete that there remained nothing more to wonder at except
its absolute credibility. He sat in this beautiful little building
looking out upon dreamland flowers and the sunlit lake amidst this
strange mingling of week-end English costumes and this more than
Olympian nudity that had already ceased to startle him, he listened
and occasionally participated in the long informal conversation
that now ensued. It was a discussion that brought to light the most
amazing and fundamental differences of moral and social outlook. Yet
everything had now assumed a reality that made it altogether natural
to suppose that he would presently go home to write about it in the
Liberal and tell his wife, as much as might seem advisable at the
time, about the manners and costumes of this hitherto undiscovered
world. He had not even a sense of intervening distances. Sydenham
might have been just round the corner.

Presently two pretty young girls made tea at an equipage among
the rhododendra and brought it round to people. Tea! It was what
we should call China tea, very delicate, and served in little
cups without handles, Chinese fashion, but it was real and very
refreshing tea.

The earlier curiosities of the Earthlings turned upon methods of
government. This was perhaps natural in the presence of two such
statesmen as Mr. Burleigh and Mr. Catskill.

"What form of government do you have?" asked Mr. Burleigh. "Is it a
monarchy or an autocracy or a pure democracy? Do you separate the
executive and the legislative? And is there one central government
for all your planet, or are there several governing centres?"

It was conveyed to Mr. Burleigh and his companions with some
difficulty that there was no central government in Utopia at all.

"But surely," said Mr. Burleigh, "there is someone or something,
some council or bureau or what not, somewhere, with which the final
decision rests in cases of collective action for the common welfare,
Some ultimate seat and organ of sovereignty, it seems to me, there
_must_ be."...

No, the Utopians declared, there was no such concentration of
authority in their world. In the past there had been, but it had
long since diffused back into the general body of the community.
Decisions in regard to any particular matter were made by the
people who knew most about that matter.

"But suppose it is a decision that has to be generally observed?
A rule affecting the public health, for example? Who would enforce
it?"

"It would not need to be enforced. Why should it?"

"But suppose someone refused to obey your regulation?"

"We should inquire why he or she did not conform. There might be
some exceptional reason."

"But failing that?"

"We should make an inquiry into his mental and moral health."

"The mind doctor takes the place of the policeman," said Mr.
Burleigh.

"I should prefer the policeman," said Mr. Rupert Catskill.

"You _would_, Rupert," said Mr. Burleigh as who should say:
"_Got_ you that time."

"Then do you mean to say," he continued, addressing the Utopians
with an expression of great intelligence, "that your affairs are
all managed by special bodies or organizations--one scarcely knows
what to call them--without any co-ordination of their activities?"

"The activities of our world," said Urthred, "are all co-ordinated
to secure the general freedom. We have a number of intelligences
directed to the general psychology of the race and to the
interaction of one collective function upon another."

"Well, isn't that group of intelligences a governing class?" said
Mr. Burleigh.

"Not in the sense that they exercise any arbitrary will," said
Urthred. "They deal with general relations, that is all. But they
rank no higher, they have no more precedence on that account than
a philosopher has over a scientific specialist."

"This is a republic indeed!" said Mr. Burleigh. "But how it works
and how it came about I cannot imagine. Your state is probably a
highly socialistic one?"

"You live still in a world in which nearly everything except the
air, the high roads, the high seas and the wilderness is privately
owned?"

"We do," said Mr. Catskill. "Owned--and competed for."

"We have been through that stage. We found at last that private
property in all but very personal things was an intolerable nuisance
to mankind. We got rid of it. An artist or a scientific man has
complete control of all the material he needs, we all own our tools
and appliances and have rooms and places of our own, but there is
no property for trade or speculation. All this militant property,
this property of manoeuvre, has been quite got rid of. But how we
got rid of it is a long story. It was not done in a few years.
The exaggeration of private property was an entirely natural and
necessary stage in the development of human nature. It led at last
to monstrous results, but it was only through these monstrous and
catastrophic results that men learnt the need and nature of the
limitations of private property."

Mr. Burleigh had assumed an attitude which was obviously habitual
to him. He sat very low in his chair with his long legs crossed
in front of him and the thumb and fingers of one hand placed with
meticulous exactness against those of the other.

"I must confess," he said, "that I am most interested in the
peculiar form of Anarchism which seems to prevail here. Unless I
misunderstand you completely every man attends to his own business
as the servant of the state. I take it you have--you must correct me
if I am wrong--a great number of people concerned in the production
and distribution and preparation of food; they inquire, I assume,
into the needs of the world, they satisfy them and they are a law
unto themselves in their way of doing it. They conduct researches,
they make experiments. Nobody compels, obliges, restrains or
prevents them. ("People talk to them about it," said Urthred with
a faint smile.) And again others produce and manufacture and study
metals for all mankind and are also a law unto themselves. Others
again see to the habitability of your world, plan and arrange these
delightful habitations, say who shall use them and how they shall be
used. Others pursue pure science. Others experiment with sensory and
imaginative possibilities and are artists. Others again teach."

"They are very important," said Lychnis.

"And they all do it in harmony--and due proportion. Without either a
central legislature or executive. I will admit that all this seems
admirable--but impossible. Nothing of the sort has ever been even
suggested yet in the world from which we come."

"Something of the sort was suggested long ago by the Guild
Socialists," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"Dear me!" said Mr. Burleigh. "I know very little about the Guild
Socialists. Who were they? Tell me."

Mr. Barnstaple tacitly declined that task. "The idea is quite
familiar to our younger people," he said. "Laski calls it the
pluralistic state, as distinguished from the monistic state in
which sovereignty is concentrated. Even the Chinese have it. A
Pekin professor, Mr. S. C. Chang, has written a pamphlet on what he
calls 'Professionalism.' I read it only a few weeks ago. He sent it
to the office of the Liberal. He points out how undesirable it is
and how unnecessary for China to pass through a phase of democratic
politics on the western model. He wants China to go right straight
on to a collateral independence of functional classes, mandarins,
industrials, agricultural workers and so forth, much as we seem
to find it here. Though that of course involves an educational
revolution. Decidedly the germ of what you call Anarchism here is
also in the air we come from."

"Dear me!" said Mr. Burleigh, looking more intelligent and
appreciative than ever. "And is that so? I had _no_ idea--!"


Section 4

The conversation continued desultory in form and yet the exchange
of ideas was rapid and effective. Quite soon, as it seemed to Mr.
Barnstaple, an outline of the history of Utopia from the Last Age
of Confusion onward shaped itself in his mind.

The more he learnt of that Last Age of Confusion the more it seemed
to resemble the present time on earth. In those days the Utopians
had worn abundant clothing and lived in towns quite after the
earthly fashion. A fortunate conspiracy of accidents rather than
any set design had opened for them some centuries of opportunity
and expansion. Climatic phases and political chances had smiled
upon the race after a long period of recurrent shortage, pestilence
and destructive warfare. For the first time the Utopians had been
able to explore the whole planet on which they lived, and these
explorations had brought great virgin areas under the axe, the spade
and the plough. There had been an enormous increase in real wealth
and in leisure and liberty. Many thousands of people were lifted
out of the normal squalor of human life to positions in which they
could, if they chose, think and act with unprecedented freedom. A
few, a sufficient few, did. A vigorous development of scientific
inquiry began and, trailing after it a multitude of ingenious
inventions, produced a great enlargement of practical human power.

There had been previous outbreaks of the scientific intelligence
in Utopia, but none before had ever occurred in such favourable
circumstances or lasted long enough to come to abundant practical
fruition. Now in a couple of brief centuries the Utopians, who had
hitherto crawled about their planet like sluggish ants or travelled
parasitically on larger and swifter animals, found themselves able
to fly rapidly or speak instantaneously to any other point on the
planet. They found themselves, too, in possession of mechanical
power on a scale beyond all previous experience, and not simply
of mechanical power; physiological and then psychological science
followed in the wake of physics and chemistry, and extraordinary
possibilities of control over his own body and over his social life
dawned upon the Utopian. But these things came, when at last they
did come, so rapidly and confusingly that it was only a small
minority of people who realized the possibilities, as distinguished
from the concrete achievements, of this tremendous expansion
of knowledge. The rest took the novel inventions as they came,
haphazard, with as little adjustment as possible of their thoughts
and ways of living to the new necessities these novelties implied.

The first response of the general population of Utopia to the
prospect of power, leisure and freedom thus opened out to it was
proliferation. It behaved just as senselessly and mechanically as
any other animal or vegetable species would have done. It bred until
it had completely swamped the ampler opportunity that had opened
before it. It spent the great gifts of science as rapidly as it got
them in a mere insensate multiplication of the common life. At one
time in the Last Age of Confusion the population of Utopia had
mounted to over two thousand million....

"But what is it now?" asked Mr. Burleigh.

About two hundred and fifty million, the Utopians told him. That
had been the maximum population that could live a fully developed
life upon the surface of Utopia. But now with increasing resources
the population was being increased.

A gasp of horror came from Father Amerton. He had been dreading this
realization for some time. It struck at his moral foundations. "And
you dare to _regulate_ increase! You control it! Your women consent
to bear children as they are needed--or refrain!"

"Of course," said Urthred. "Why not?"

"I feared as much," said Father Amerton, and leaning forward he
covered his face with his hands, murmuring, "I felt this in the
atmosphere! The human stud farm! Refusing to create souls! The
_wickedness_ of it! Oh, my God!"

Mr. Burleigh regarded the emotion of the reverend gentleman through
his glasses with a slightly shocked expression. He detested
catchwords. But Father Amerton stood for very valuable conservative
elements in the community. Mr. Burleigh turned to the Utopian again.
"That is extremely interesting," he said. "Even at present our earth
contrives to carry a population of at least five times that amount."

"But twenty millions or so will starve this winter, you told us a
little while ago--in a place called Russia. And only a very small
proportion of the rest are leading what even you would call full
and spacious lives?"

"Nevertheless the contrast is very striking," said Mr. Burleigh.

"It is terrible!" said Father Amerton.

The overcrowding of the planet in the Last Age of Confusion was,
these Utopians insisted, the fundamental evil out of which all
the others that afflicted the race arose. An overwhelming flood
of newcomers poured into the world and swamped every effort the
intelligent minority could make to educate a sufficient proportion
of them to meet the demands of the new and still rapidly changing
conditions of life. And the intelligent minority was not itself in
any position to control the racial destiny. These great masses of
population that had been blundered into existence, swayed by damaged
and decaying traditions and amenable to the crudest suggestions,
were the natural prey and support of every adventurer with a
mind blatant enough and a conception of success coarse enough to
appeal to them. The economic system, clumsily and convulsively
reconstructed to meet the new conditions of mechanical production
and distribution, became more and more a cruel and impudent
exploitation of the multitudinous congestion of the common man by
the predatory and acquisitive few. That all too common common man
was hustled through misery and subjection from his cradle to his
grave; he was cajoled and lied to, he was bought, sold and dominated
by an impudent minority, bolder and no doubt more energetic, but
in all other respects no more intelligent than himself. It was
difficult, Urthred said, for a Utopian nowadays to convey the
monstrous stupidity, wastefulness and vulgarity to which these
rich and powerful men of the Last Age of Confusion attained.

("We will not trouble you," said Mr. Burleigh. "Unhappily--we know....
We know. Only too well do we know.")

Upon this festering, excessive mass of population disasters
descended at last like wasps upon a heap of rotting fruit. It was
its natural, inevitable destiny. A war that affected nearly the
whole planet dislocated its flimsy financial system and most of its
economic machinery beyond any possibility of repair. Civil wars
and clumsily conceived attempts at social revolution continued the
disorganization. A series of years of bad weather accentuated the
general shortage. The exploiting adventurers, too stupid to realize
what had happened, continued to cheat and hoodwink the commonalty
and burke any rally of honest men, as wasps will continue to eat
even after their bodies have been cut away. The effort to make
passed out of Utopian life, triumphantly superseded by the effort
to get. Production dwindled down towards the vanishing point.
Accumulated wealth vanished. An overwhelming system of debt, a swarm
of creditors, morally incapable of helpful renunciation, crushed
out all fresh initiative.

The long diastole in Utopian affairs that had begun with the great
discoveries, passed into a phase of rapid systole. What plenty and
pleasure was still possible in the world was filched all the more
greedily by the adventurers of finance and speculative business.
Organized science had long since been commercialized, and was
"applied" now chiefly to a hunt for profitable patents and the
forestalling of necessary supplies. The neglected lamp of pure
science waned, flickered and seemed likely to go out again
altogether, leaving Utopia in the beginning of a new series of
Dark Ages like those before the age of discovery began....

"It is really _very_ like a gloomy diagnosis of our own outlook,"
said Mr. Burleigh. "Extraordinarily like. How Dean Inge would have
enjoyed all this!"

"To an infidel of his stamp, no doubt, it would seem most
enjoyable," said Father Amerton a little incoherently.

These comments annoyed Mr. Barnstaple, who was urgent to hear more.

"And then," he said to Urthred, "what happened?"


Section 5

What happened, Mr. Barnstaple gathered, was a deliberate change
in Utopian thought. A growing number of people were coming to
understand that amidst the powerful and easily released forces that
science and organization had brought within reach of man, the old
conception of social life in the state, as a limited and legalized
struggle of men and women to get the better of one another, was
becoming too dangerous to endure, just as the increased dreadfulness
of modern weapons was making the separate sovereignty of nations too
dangerous to endure. There had to be new ideas and new conventions
of human association if history was not to end in disaster and
collapse.

All societies were based on the limitation by laws and taboos and
treaties of the primordial fierce combativeness of the ancestral
man-ape; that ancient spirit of self-assertion had now to undergo
new restrictions commensurate with the new powers and dangers of
the race. The idea of competition to possess, as the ruling idea of
intercourse, was, like some ill-controlled furnace, threatening to
consume the machine it had formerly driven. The idea of creative
service had to replace it. To that idea the human mind and will had
to be turned if social life was to be saved. Propositions that had
seemed, in former ages, to be inspired and exalted idealism began
now to be recognized not simply as sober psychological truth but as
practical and urgently necessary truth. In explaining this Urthred
expressed himself in a manner that recalled to Mr. Barnstaple's mind
certain very familiar phrases; he seemed to be saying that whosoever
would save his life should lose it, and that whosoever would give
his life should thereby gain the whole world.

Father Amerton's thoughts, it seemed, were also responding in the
same manner. For he suddenly interrupted with: "But what you are
saying is a quotation!"

Urthred admitted that he had a quotation in mind, a passage from the
teachings of a man of great poetic power who had lived long ago in
the days of spoken words.

He would have proceeded, but Father Amerton was too excited to let
him do so. "But who was this teacher?" he asked. "Where did he live?
How was he born? How did he die?"

A picture was flashed upon Mr. Barnstaple's consciousness of a
solitary-looking pale-faced figure, beaten and bleeding, surrounded
by armoured guards, in the midst of a thrusting, jostling, sun-bit
crowd which filled a narrow, high-walled street. Behind, some huge
ugly implement was borne along, dipping and swaying with the swaying
of the multitude....

"Did he die upon the Cross in _this_ world also?" cried Father
Amerton. "Did he die upon the Cross?"

This prophet in Utopia they learnt had died very painfully, but not
upon the Cross. He had been tortured in some way, but neither the
Utopians nor these particular Earthlings had sufficient knowledge of
the technicalities of torture to get any idea over about that, and
then apparently he had been fastened upon a slowly turning wheel and
exposed until he died. It was the abominable punishment of a cruel
and conquering race, and it had been inflicted upon him because his
doctrine of universal service had alarmed the rich and dominant who
did not serve. Mr. Barnstaple had a momentary vision of a twisted
figure upon that wheel of torture in the blazing sun. And,
marvellous triumph over death! out of a world that could do such
a deed had come this great peace and universal beauty about him!

But Father Amerton was pressing his questions. "But did you not
realize who he was? Did not this world suspect?"

A great many people thought that this man was a God. But he had been
accustomed to call himself merely a son of God or a son of Man.

Father Amerton stuck to his point. "But you worship him now?"

"We follow his teaching because it was wonderful and true," said
Urthred.

"But worship?"

"No."

"But does nobody worship? There _were_ those who worshipped him?"

There were those who worshipped him. There were those who quailed
before the stern magnificence of his teaching and yet who had a
tormenting sense that he was right in some profound way. So they
played a trick upon their own uneasy consciences by treating him as
a magical god instead of as a light to their souls. They interwove
with his execution ancient traditions of sacrificial kings. Instead
of receiving him frankly and clearly and making him a part of their
understandings and wills they pretended to eat him mystically and
make him a part of their bodies. They turned his wheel into a
miraculous symbol, and they confused it with the equator and the sun
and the ecliptic and indeed with anything else that was round. In
cases of ill-luck, ill-health or bad weather it was believed to be
very helpful for the believer to describe a circle in the air with
the forefinger.

And since this teacher's memory was very dear to the ignorant
multitude because of his gentleness and charity, it was seized upon
by cunning and aggressive types who constituted themselves champions
and exponents of the wheel, who grew rich and powerful in its name,
led people into great wars for its sake and used it as a cover and
justification for envy, hatred, tyranny and dark desires. Until at
last men said that had that ancient prophet come again to Utopia,
his own triumphant wheel would have crushed and destroyed him
afresh....

Father Amerton seemed inattentive to this communication. He was
seeing it from another angle. "But surely," he said, "there is a
remnant of believers still! Despised perhaps--but a remnant?"

There was no remnant. The whole world followed that Teacher of
Teachers, but no one worshipped him. On some old treasured buildings
the wheel was still to be seen carved, often with the most fantastic
decorative elaborations. And in museums and collections there were
multitudes of pictures, images, charms and the like.

"I don't understand this," said Father Amerton. "It is too terrible.
I am at a loss. I do not understand."


Section 6

A fair and rather slender man with a delicately beautiful face
whose name, Mr. Barnstaple was to learn later, was Lion, presently
took over from Urthred the burthen of explaining and answering the
questions of the Earthlings.

He was one of the educational co-ordinators in Utopia. He made it
clear that the change over in Utopian affairs had been no sudden
revolution. No new system of laws and customs, no new method of
economic co-operation based on the idea of universal service to
the common good, had sprung abruptly into being complete and
finished. Throughout a long period, before and during the Last
Age of Confusion, the foundations of the new state were laid by a
growing multitude of inquirers and workers, having no set plan or
preconceived method, but brought into unconscious co-operation by
a common impulse to service and a common lucidity and veracity of
mind. It was only towards the climax of the Last Age of Confusion in
Utopia that psychological science began to develop with any vigour,
comparable to the vigour of the development of geographical and
physical science during the preceding centuries. And the social
and economic disorder which was checking experimental science and
crippling the organized work of the universities was stimulating
inquiry into the processes of human association and making it
desperate and fearless.

The impression given Mr. Barnstaple was not of one of those violent
changes which our world has learnt to call revolutions, but of an
increase of light, a dawn of new ideas, in which the things of the
old order went on for a time with diminishing vigour until people
began as a matter of common sense to do the new things in the place
of the old.

The beginnings of the new order were in discussions, books and
psychological laboratories; the soil in which it grew was found
in schools and colleges. The old order gave small rewards to the
schoolmaster, but its dominant types were too busy with the struggle
for wealth and power to take much heed of teaching: it was left to
any man or woman who would give thought and labour without much hope
of tangible rewards, to shape the world anew in the minds of the
young. And they did so shape it. In a world ruled ostensibly by
adventurer politicians, in a world where men came to power through
floundering business enterprises and financial cunning, it was
presently being taught and understood that extensive private
property was socially a nuisance, and that the state could not do
its work properly nor education produce its proper results, side by
side with a class of irresponsible rich people. For, by their very
nature, they assailed, they corrupted, they undermined every state
undertaking; their flaunting existences distorted and disguised all
the values of life. They had to go, for the good of the race.

"Didn't they fight?" asked Mr. Catskill pugnaciously.

They had fought irregularly but fiercely. The fight to delay
or arrest the coming of the universal scientific state, the
educational state, in Utopia, had gone on as a conscious struggle
for nearly five centuries. The fight against it was the fight of
greedy, passionate, prejudiced and self-seeking men against the
crystallization into concrete realities of this new idea of
association for service. It was fought wherever ideas were spread;
it was fought with dismissals and threats and boycotts and storms
of violence, with lies and false accusations, with prosecutions
and imprisonments, with lynching-rope, tar and feathers, paraffin,
bludgeon and rifle, bomb and gun.

But the service of the new idea that had been launched into the
world never failed; it seized upon the men and women it needed with
compelling power. Before the scientific state was established in
Utopia more than a million martyrs had been killed for it, and
those who had suffered lesser wrongs were beyond all reckoning.
Point after point was won in education, in social laws, in economic
method. No date could be fixed for the change. A time came when
Utopia perceived that it was day and that a new order of things
had replaced the old....

"So it must be," said Mr. Barnstaple, as though Utopia were not
already present about him. "So it must be."

A question was being answered. Every Utopian child is taught to the
full measure of its possibilities and directed to the work that is
indicated by its desires and capacity. It is born well. It is born
of perfectly healthy parents; its mother has chosen to bear it after
due thought and preparation. It grows up under perfectly healthy
conditions; its natural impulses to play and learn are gratified by
the subtlest educational methods; hands, eyes and limbs are given
every opportunity of training and growth; it learns to draw, write,
express itself, use a great variety of symbols to assist and extend
its thought. Kindness and civility become ingrained habits, for
all about it are kind and civil. And in particular the growth of
its imagination is watched and encouraged. It learns the wonderful
history of its world and its race, how man has struggled and still
struggles out of his earlier animal narrowness and egotism towards
an empire over being that is still but faintly apprehended through
dense veils of ignorance. All its desires are made fine; it learns
from poetry, from example and the love of those about it to lose
its solicitude for itself in love; its sexual passions are turned
against its selfishness, its curiosity flowers into scientific
passion, its combativeness is set to fight disorder, its inherent
pride and ambition are directed towards an honourable share in
the common achievement. It goes to the work that attracts it and
chooses what it will do.

If the individual is indolent there is no great loss, there is
plenty for all in Utopia, but then it will find no lovers, nor will
it ever bear children, because no one in Utopia loves those who have
neither energy nor distinction. There is much pride of the mate in
Utopian love. And there is no idle rich "society" in Utopia, nor
games and shows for the mere looker-on. There is nothing for the
mere looker-on. It is a pleasant world indeed for holidays, but not
for those who would continuously do nothing.

For centuries now Utopian science has been able to discriminate
among births, and nearly every Utopian alive would have ranked as an
energetic creative spirit in former days. There are few dull and no
really defective people in Utopia; the idle strains, the people of
lethargic dispositions or weak imaginations, have mostly died out;
the melancholic type has taken its dismissal and gone; spiteful and
malignant characters are disappearing. The vast majority of Utopians
are active, sanguine, inventive, receptive and good-tempered.

"And you have not even a parliament?" asked Mr. Burleigh, still
incredulous.

Utopia has no parliament, no politics, no private wealth, no
business competition, no police nor prisons, no lunatics, no
defectives nor cripples, and it has none of these things because it
has schools and teachers who are all that schools and teachers can
be. Politics, trade and competition are the methods of adjustment
of a crude society. Such methods of adjustment have been laid
aside in Utopia for more than a thousand years. There is no rule
nor government needed by adult Utopians because all the rule and
government they need they have had in childhood and youth.

Said Lion: "Our education is our government."



CHAPTER THE SIXTH

SOME EARTHLY CRITICISMS


Section 1

At times during that memorable afternoon and evening it seemed to
Mr. Barnstaple that he was involved in nothing more remarkable than
an extraordinary dialogue about government and history, a dialogue
that had in some inexplicable way become spectacular; it was as if
all this was happening only in his mind; and then the absolute
reality of his adventure would return to him with overwhelming power
and his intellectual interest fade to inattention in the astounding
strangeness of his position. In these latter phases he would find
his gaze wandering from face to face of the Utopians who surrounded
him, resting for a time on some exquisite detail of the architecture
of the building and then coming back to these divinely graceful
forms.

Then incredulously he would revert to his fellow Earthlings.

Not one of these Utopian faces but was as candid, earnest and
beautiful as the angelic faces of an Italian painting. One woman
was strangely like Michael Angelo's Delphic Sibyl. They sat in easy
attitudes, men and women together, for the most part concentrated on
the discussion, but every now and then Mr. Barnstaple would meet the
direct scrutiny of a pair of friendly eyes or find some Utopian face
intent upon the costume of Lady Stella or the eye-glass of Mr. Mush.

Mr. Barnstaple's first impression of the Utopians had been that they
were all young people; now he perceived that many of these faces had
a quality of vigorous maturity. None showed any of the distinctive
marks of age as this world notes them, but both Urthred and Lion
had lines of experience about eyes and lips and brow.

The effect of these people upon Mr. Barnstaple mingled stupefaction
with familiarity in the strangest way. He had a feeling that he had
always known that such a race could exist and that this knowledge
had supplied the implicit standard of a thousand judgments upon
human affairs, and at the same time he was astonished to the pitch
of incredulity to find himself in the same world with them. They
were at once normal and wonderful in comparison with himself and
his companions who were, on their part, at the same time queer and
perfectly matter-of-fact.

And together with a strong desire to become friendly and intimate
with these fine and gracious persons, to give himself to them and
to associate them with himself by service and reciprocal acts,
there was an awe and fear of them that made him shrink from contact
with them and quiver at their touch. He desired their personal
recognition of himself as a fellow and companion so greatly that
his sense of his own ungraciousness and unworthiness overwhelmed
him. He wanted to bow down before them. Beneath all the light and
loveliness of things about him lurked the intolerable premonition
of his ultimate rejection from this new world.

So great was the impression made by the Utopians upon Mr.
Barnstaple, so entirely did he yield himself up to his joyful
acceptance of their grace and physical splendour, that for a time he
had no attention left over to note how different from his own were
the reactions of several of his Earthling companions. The aloofness
of the Utopians from the queerness, grotesqueness and cruelty of
normal earthly life made him ready for the most uncritical approval
of their institutions and ways of life.

It was the behaviour of Father Amerton which first awakened him
to the fact that it was possible to disapprove of these wonderful
people very highly and to display a very considerable hostility to
them. At first Father Amerton had kept a round-faced, round-eyed
wonder above his round collar; he had shown a disposition to give
the lead to anyone who chose to take it, and he had said not a word
until the naked beauty of dead Greenlake had surprised him into an
expression of unclerical appreciation. But during the journey to the
lakeside and the meal and the opening arrangements of the conference
there was a reaction, and this first naive and deferential
astonishment gave place to an attitude of resistance and hostility.
It was as if this new world which had begun by being a spectacle had
taken on the quality of a proposition which he felt he had either to
accept or confute. Perhaps it was that the habit of mind of a public
censor was too strong for him and that he could not feel normal
again until he began to condemn. Perhaps he was really shocked and
distressed by the virtual nudity of these lovely bodies about him.
But he began presently to make queer grunts and coughs, to mutter
to himself, and to betray an increasing incapacity to keep still.

He broke out first into an interruption when the question of
population was raised. For a little while his intelligence prevailed
over this emotional stir when the prophet of the wheel was
discussed, but then his gathering preoccupations resumed their sway.

"I must speak out," Mr. Barnstaple heard him mutter. "I must speak
out."

"Now suddenly he began to ask questions. There are some things
I want to have clear," he said. "I want to know what moral state
this so-called Utopia is in. Excuse me!"

He got up. He stood with wavering hands, unable for a moment to
begin. Then he went to the end of the row of seats and placed
himself so that his hands could rest on the back of a seat. He
passed his fingers through his hair and he seemed to be inhaling
deeply. An unwonted animation came into his face, which reddened
and began to shine. A horrible suspicion crossed the mind of Mr.
Barnstaple that so it was he must stand when he began those weekly
sermons of his, those fearless denunciations of almost everything,
in the church of St. Barnabas in the West. The suspicion deepened
to a still more horrible certainty.

"Friends, Brothers of this new world--I have certain things to
say to you that I cannot delay saying. I want to ask you some
soul-searching questions. I want to deal plainly with you about some
plain and simple but very fundamental matters. I want to put things
to you frankly and as man to man, not being mealy-mouthed about
urgent if delicate things. Let me come without parley to what I have
to say. I want to ask you if, in this so-called state of Utopia, you
still have and respect and honour the most sacred thing in social
life. Do you still respect the marriage bond?"

He paused, and in the pause the Utopian reply came through to
Mr. Barnstaple: "In Utopia there are no bonds."

But Father Amerton was not asking questions with any desire for
answers; he was asking questions pulpit-fashion.

"I want to know," he was booming out, "if that holy union revealed
to our first parents in the Garden of Eden holds good here, if that
sanctified life-long association of one man and one woman, in good
fortune and ill fortune, excluding every other sort of intimacy,
is the rule of your lives. I want to know--"

"But he _doesn't_ want to know," came a Utopian intervention.

"--if that shielded and guarded dual purity--"

Mr. Burleigh raised a long white hand. "Father Amerton," he
protested, "_please_."

The hand of Mr. Burleigh was a potent hand that might still wave
towards preferment. Few things under heaven could stop Father
Amerton when he was once launched upon one of his soul storms, but
the hand of Mr. Burleigh was among such things.

"--has followed another still more precious gift and been cast aside
here and utterly rejected of men? What is it, Mr. Burleigh?"

"I wish you would not press this matter further just at present,
Father Amerton. Until we have learnt a little more. Institutions
are, manifestly, very different here. Even the institution of
marriage may be different."

The preacher's face lowered. "Mr. Burleigh," he said, "I _must_. If
my suspicions are right, I want to strip this world forthwith of its
hectic pretence to a sort of health and virtue."

"Not much stripping required," said Mr. Burleigh's chauffeur, in a
very audible aside.

A certain testiness became evident in Mr. Burleigh's voice.

"Then ask questions," he said. "Ask questions. Don't orate, please.
They don't want us to orate."

"I've asked my question," said Father Amerton sulkily with a
rhetorical glare at Urthred, and remained standing.

The answer came clear and explicit. In Utopia there was no
compulsion for men and women to go about in indissoluble pairs. For
most Utopians that would be inconvenient. Very often men and women,
whose work brought them closely together, were lovers and kept very
much together, as Arden and Greenlake had done. But they were not
obliged to do that.

There had not always been this freedom. In the old crowded days of
conflict, and especially among the agricultural workers and employed
people of Utopia, men and women who had been lovers were bound
together under severe penalties for life. They lived together in a
small home which the woman kept in order for the man, she was his
servant and bore him as many children as possible, while he got food
for them. The children were desired because they were soon helpful
on the land or as wage-earners. But the necessities that had
subjugated women to that sort of pairing had passed away.

People paired indeed with their chosen mates, but they did so by an
inner necessity and not by any outward compulsion.

Father Amerton had listened with ill-concealed impatience. Now he
jumped with: "Then I was right, and you have abolished the family?"
His finger pointed at Urthred made it almost a personal accusation.

No. Utopia had not abolished the family. It had enlarged and
glorified the family until it embraced the whole world. Long ago
that prophet of the wheel, whom Father Amerton seemed to respect,
had preached that very enlargement of the ancient narrowness of
home. They had told him while he preached that his mother and his
brethren stood without and claimed his attention. But he would not
go to them. He had turned to the crowd that listened to his words:
"Behold my mother and my brethren!"

Father Amerton slapped the seat-back in front of him loudly and
startlingly. "A quibble," he cried, "a quibble! Satan too can
quote the scriptures."

It was clear to Mr. Barnstaple that Father Amerton was not in
complete control of himself. He was frightened by what he was doing
and yet impelled to do it. He was too excited to think clearly or
control his voice properly, so that he shouted and boomed in the
wildest way. He was "letting himself go" and trusting to the
habits of the pulpit of St. Barnabas to bring him through.

"I perceive now how you stand. Only too well do I perceive how you
stand. From the outset I guessed how things were with you. I
waited--I waited to be perfectly sure, before I bore my testimony.
But it speaks for itself--the shamelessness of your costume, the
licentious freedom of your manners! Young men and women, smiling,
joining hands, near to caressing, when averted eyes, averted eyes,
are the least tribute you could pay to modesty! And this vile
talk--of lovers loving--without bonds or blessings, without rules or
restraint. What does it mean? Whither does it lead? Do not imagine
because I am a priest, a man pure and virginal in spite of great
temptations, do not imagine that I do not understand! Have I no
vision of the secret places of the heart? Do not the wounded
sinners, the broken potsherds, creep to me with their pitiful
confessions? And I will tell you plainly whither you go and how you
stand? This so-called freedom of yours is nothing but licence. Your
so-called Utopia, I see plainly, is nothing but a hell of unbridled
indulgence! Unbridled indulgence!"

Mr. Burleigh held up a protesting hand, but Father Amerton's
eloquence soared over the obstruction.

He beat upon the back of the seat before him. "I will bear my
witness," he shouted. "I will bear my witness. I will make no bones
about it. I refuse to mince matters I tell you. You are all
living--in promiscuity! That is the word for it. In animal
promiscuity! In _bestial_ promiscuity!"

Mr. Burleigh had sprung to his feet. He was holding up his two hands
and motioning the London Boanerges to sit down. "No, no!" he cried.
"You must _stop_, Mr. Amerton. Really, you must stop. You are being
insulting. You do not understand. Sit _down_, please. I insist."

"Sit down and hold your peace," said a very clear voice. "Or you
will be taken away."

Something made Father Amerton aware of a still figure at his elbow.
He met the eyes of a lithe young man who was scrutinizing his build
as a portrait painter might scrutinize a new sitter. There was no
threat in his bearing, he stood quite still, and yet his appearance
threw an extraordinary quality of evanescence about Father Amerton.
The great preacher's voice died in his throat.

Mr. Burleigh's bland voice was lifted to avert a conflict. "Mr.
Serpentine, Sir, I appeal to you and apologize. He is not fully
responsible. We others regret the interruption--the incident. I pray
you, please do not take him away, whatever taking away may mean. I
will answer personally for his good behaviour.... _Do_ sit down,
Mr. Amerton, _please_; _now_; or I shall wash my hands of the whole
business."

Father Amerton hesitated.

"My time will come," he said and looked the young man in the eyes
for a moment and then went back to his seat.

Urthred spoke quietly and clearly. "You Earthlings are difficult
guests to entertain. This is not all.... Manifestly this man's mind
is very unclean. His sexual imagination is evidently inflamed and
diseased. He is angry and anxious to insult and wound. And his
noises are terrific. To-morrow he must be examined and dealt with."

"How?" said Father Amerton, his round face suddenly grey. "How do
you mean--_dealt_ with?"

"_Please_ do not talk," said Mr. Burleigh. "_Please_ do not talk any
more. You have done quite enough mischief...."

For the time the incident seemed at an end, but it had left a queer
little twinge of fear in Mr. Barnstaple's heart. These Utopians
were very gentle-mannered and gracious people indeed, but just for
a moment the hand of power had seemed to hover over the Earthling
party. Sunlight and beauty were all about the visitors, nevertheless
they were strangers and quite helpless strangers in an unknown
world. The Utopian faces were kindly and their eyes curious and in
a manner friendly, but much more observant than friendly. It was as
if they looked across some impassable gulf of difference.

And then Mr. Barnstaple in the midst of his distress met the brown
eyes of Lychnis, and they were kindlier than the eyes of the other
Utopians. She, at least, understood the fear that had come to him,
he felt, and she was willing to reassure him and be his friend. Mr.
Barnstaple looked at her, feeling for the moment much as a stray
dog might do who approaches a doubtfully amiable group and gets a
friendly glance and a greeting.


Section 2

Another mind that was also in active resistance to Utopia was that
of Mr. Freddy Mush. He had no quarrel indeed with the religion
or morals or social organization of Utopia. He had long since
learnt that no gentleman of serious aesthetic pretensions betrays
any interest whatever in such matters. His perceptions were by
hypothesis too fine for them. But presently he made it clear that
there had been something very ancient and beautiful called the
"Balance of Nature" which the scientific methods of Utopia had
destroyed. What this Balance of Nature of his was, and how it worked
on earth, neither the Utopians nor Mr. Barnstaple were able to
understand very clearly. Under cross-examination Mr. Mush grew pink
and restive and his eye-glass flashed defensively. "I hold by the
swallows," he repeated. "If you can't see my point about that
I don't know what else I can say."

He began with the fact and reverted to the fact that there were no
swallows to be seen in Utopia, and there were no swallows to be seen
in Utopia because there were no gnats nor midges. There had been an
enormous deliberate reduction of insect life in Utopia, and that
had seriously affected every sort of creature that was directly or
indirectly dependent upon insect life. So soon as the new state of
affairs was securely established in Utopia and the educational state
working, the attention of the Utopian community had been given to
the long-cherished idea of a systematic extermination of tiresome
and mischievous species. A careful inquiry was made into the
harmfulness and the possibility of eliminating the house-fly for
example, wasps and hornets, various species of mice and rats,
rabbits, stinging nettles. Ten thousand species, from disease-germ
to rhinoceros and hyena, were put upon their trial. Every species
found was given an advocate. Of each it was asked: What good is it?
What harm does it do? How can it be extirpated? What else may go
with it if it goes? Is it worth while wiping it out of existence?
Or can it be mitigated and retained? And even when the verdict
was death final and complete, Utopia set about the business of
extermination with great caution. A reserve would be kept and was
in many cases still being kept, in some secure isolation, of every
species condemned.

Most infectious and contagious fevers had been completely stamped
out; some had gone very easily; some had only been driven out of
human life by proclaiming a war and subjecting the whole population
to discipline. Many internal and external parasites of man and
animals had also been got rid of completely. And further, there had
been a great cleansing of the world from noxious insects, from weeds
and vermin and hostile beasts. The mosquito had gone, the house-fly,
the blow-fly, and indeed a great multitude of flies had gone; they
had been driven out of life by campaigns involving an immense effort
and extending over many generations. It had been infinitely more
easy to get rid of such big annoyances as the hyena and the wolf
than to abolish these smaller pests. The attack upon the flies had
involved the virtual rebuilding of a large proportion of Utopian
houses and a minute cleansing of them all throughout the planet.

The question of what else would go if a certain species went was one
of the most subtle that Utopia had to face. Certain insects, for
example, were destructive and offensive grubs in the opening stage
of their lives, were evil as caterpillar or pupa and then became
either beautiful in themselves or necessary to the fertilization of
some useful or exquisite flowers. Others offensive in themselves
were a necessary irreplaceable food to pleasant and desirable
creatures. It was not true that swallows had gone from Utopia, but
they had become extremely rare; and rare too were a number of little
insectivorous birds, the fly-catcher for example, that harlequin of
the air. But they had not died out altogether; the extermination of
insects had not gone to that length; sufficient species had remained
to make some districts still habitable for these delightful birds.

Many otherwise obnoxious plants were a convenient source of
chemically complex substances that were still costly or tedious to
make synthetically, and so had kept a restricted place in life.
Plants and flowers, always simpler and more plastic in the hands of
the breeder and hybridizer than animals, had been enormously changed
in Utopia. Our Earthlings were to find a hundred sorts of foliage
and of graceful and scented blossoms that were altogether strange to
them. Plants, Mr. Barnstaple learnt, had been trained and bred to
make new and unprecedented secretions, waxes, gums, essential oils
and the like, of the most desirable quality.

There had been much befriending and taming of big animals; the
larger carnivora, combed and cleaned, reduced to a milk dietary,
emasculated in spirit and altogether be-catted, were pets and
ornaments in Utopia. The almost extinct elephant had increased again
and Utopia had saved her giraffes. The brown bear had always been
disposed to sweets and vegetarianism and had greatly improved in
intelligence. The dog had given up barking and was comparatively
rare. Sporting dogs were not used nor small pet animals.

Horses Mr. Barnstaple did not see, but as he was a very modern urban
type he did not miss them very much and he did not ask any questions
about them while he was actually in Utopia. He never found out
whether they had or had not become extinct.

As he heard on his first afternoon in that world of this revision
and editing, this weeding and cultivation of the kingdoms of nature
by mankind, it seemed to him to be the most natural and necessary
phase in human history. "After all," he said to himself, "it was a
good invention to say that man was created a gardener."

And now man was weeding and cultivating his own strain....

The Utopians told of eugenic beginnings, of a new and surer decision
in the choice of parents, of an increasing certainty in the science
of heredity; and as Mr. Barnstaple contrasted the firm clear beauty
of face and limb that every Utopian displayed with the carelessly
assembled features and bodily disproportions of his earthly
associates, he realized that already, with but three thousand years
or so of advantage, these Utopians were passing beyond man towards
a nobler humanity. They were becoming different in kind.


Section 3

They were different in kind.

As the questions and explanations and exchanges of that afternoon
went on, it became more and more evident to Mr. Barnstaple that
the difference of their bodies was as nothing to the differences
of their minds. Innately better to begin with, the minds of these
children of light had grown up uninjured by any such tremendous
frictions, concealments, ambiguities and ignorances as cripple the
growing mind of an Earthling. They were clear and frank and direct.
They had never developed that defensive suspicion of the teacher,
that resistance to instruction, which is the natural response to
teaching that is half aggression. They were beautifully unwary in
their communications. The ironies, concealments, insincerities,
vanities and pretensions of earthly conversation seemed unknown to
them. Mr. Barnstaple found this mental nakedness of theirs as sweet
and refreshing as the mountain air he was breathing. It amazed him
that they could be so patient and lucid with beings so underbred.

Underbred was the word he used in his mind. Himself, he felt the
most underbred of all; he was afraid of these Utopians; snobbish
and abject before them, he was like a mannerless earthy lout in a
drawing-room, and he was bitterly ashamed of his own abjection. All
the other Earthlings except Mr. Burleigh and Lady Stella betrayed
the defensive spite of consciously inferior creatures struggling
against that consciousness.

Like Father Amerton, Mr. Burleigh's chauffeur was evidently greatly
shocked and disturbed by the unclothed condition of the Utopians;
his feelings expressed themselves by gestures, grimaces and an
occasional sarcastic comment such as "I _don't_ think!" or "What O!"
These he addressed for the most part to Mr. Barnstaple, for whom, as
the owner of a very little old car, he evidently mingled feelings
of profound contempt and social fellowship. He would also direct
Mr. Barnstaple's attention to anything that he considered remarkable
in bearing or gesture, by means of a peculiar stare and grimace
combined with raised eyebrows. He had a way of pointing with his
mouth and nose that Mr. Barnstaple under more normal circumstances
might have found entertaining.

Lady Stella, who had impressed Mr. Barnstaple at first as a very
great lady of the modern type, he was now beginning to feel was on
her defence and becoming rather too ladylike. Mr. Burleigh however
retained a certain aristocratic sublimity. He had been a great man
on earth for all his life and it was evident that he saw no reason
why he should not be accepted as a great man in Utopia. On earth
he had done little and had been intelligently receptive with the
happiest results. That alert, questioning mind of his, free of all
persuasions, convictions or revolutionary desires, fell with the
utmost ease into the pose of a distinguished person inspecting, in
a sympathetic but entirely non-committal manner, the institutions
of an alien state. "Tell me," that engaging phrase, laced his
conversation.

The evening was drawing on; the clear Utopian sky was glowing with
the gold of sunset and a towering mass of cloud above the lake was
fading from pink to a dark purple, when Mr. Rupert Catskill imposed
himself upon Mr. Barnstaple's attention. He was fretting in his
place. "I have something to say," he said. "I have something to
say."

Presently he jumped up and walked to the centre of the semicircle
from which Mr. Burleigh had spoken earlier in the afternoon. "Mr.
Serpentine," he said. "Mr. Burleigh. There are a few things I should
be glad to say--if you can give me this opportunity of saying them."


Section 4

He took off his grey top hat, went back and placed it on his seat
and returned to the centre of the apse. He put back his coat tails,
rested his hands on his hips, thrust his head forward, regarded his
audience for a moment with an expression half cunning, half defiant,
muttered something inaudible and began.

His opening was not prepossessing. There was some slight impediment
in his speech, the little brother of a lisp, against which his voice
beat gutturally. His first few sentences had an effect of being
jerked out by unsteady efforts. Then it became evident to Mr.
Barnstaple that Mr. Catskill was expressing a very definite point of
view, he was offering a reasoned and intelligible view of Utopia.
Mr. Barnstaple disagreed with that criticism, indeed he disagreed
with it violently, but he had to recognize that it expressed an
understandable attitude of mind.

Mr. Catskill began with a sweeping admission of the beauty and order
of Utopia. He praised the "glowing health" he saw "on every cheek,"
the wealth, tranquillity and comfort of Utopian life. They had
"tamed the forces of nature and subjugated them altogether to one
sole end, to the material comfort of the race."

"But Arden and Greenlake?" murmured Mr. Barnstaple.

Mr. Catskill did not hear or heed the interruption. "The first
effect, Mr. Speaker--Mr. Serpentine, I _should_ say--the first effect
upon an earthly mind is overwhelming. Is it any wonder"--he glanced
at Mr. Burleigh and Mr. Barnstaple--"is it any wonder that admiration
has carried some of us off our feet? Is it any wonder that for a
time your almost magic beauty has charmed us into forgetting much
that is in our own natures--into forgetting deep and mysterious
impulses, cravings, necessities, so that we have been ready to
say, 'Here at last is Lotus Land. Here let us abide, let us adapt
ourselves to this planned and ordered splendour and live our lives
out here and die.' I, too, Mr.--Mr. Serpentine, succumbed to that
magic for a time. But only for a time. Already, Sir, I find myself
full of questionings."...

His bright, headlong mind had seized upon the fact that every phase
in the weeding and cleansing of Utopia from pests and parasites
and diseases had been accompanied by the possibility of collateral
limitations and losses; or perhaps it would be juster to say that
that fact had seized upon his mind. He ignored the deliberation
and precautions that had accompanied every step in the process of
making a world securely healthy and wholesome for human activity.
He assumed there had been losses with every gain, he went on to
exaggerate these losses and ran on glibly to the inevitable metaphor
of throwing away the baby with its bath--inevitable, that is, for
a British parliamentarian. The Utopians, he declared, were living
lives of extraordinary ease, safety and "may I say so--indulgence"
("They work," said Mr. Barnstaple), but with a thousand annoyances
and disagreeables gone had not something else greater and more
precious gone also? Life on earth was, he admitted, insecure, full
of pains and anxieties, full indeed of miseries and distresses and
anguish, but also, and indeed by reason of these very things, it had
moments of intensity, hopes, joyful surprises, escapes, attainments,
such as the ordered life of Utopia could not possibly afford. "You
have been getting away from conflicts and distresses. Have you not
also been getting away from the living and quivering realities of
life?"

He launched out upon a eulogy of earthly life. He extolled the
vitality of life upon earth as though there were no signs of
vitality in the high splendour about him. He spoke of the "thunder
of our crowded cities," of the "urge of our teeming millions," of
the "broad tides of commerce and industrial effort and warfare,"
that "swayed and came and went in the hives and harbours of our
race."

He had the knack of the plausible phrase and that imaginative
touch which makes for eloquence. Mr. Barnstaple forgot that slight
impediment and the thickness of the voice that said these things.
Mr. Catskill boldly admitted all the earthly evils and dangers that
Mr. Burleigh had retailed. Everything that Mr. Burleigh had said
was true. All that he had said fell indeed far short of the truth.
Famine we knew, and pestilence. We suffered from a thousand diseases
that Utopia had eliminated. We were afflicted by a thousand
afflictions that were known to Utopia now only by ancient tradition.
"The rats gnaw and the summer flies persecute and madden. At times
life reeks and stinks. I admit it, Sir, I admit it. We go down far
below your extremest experiences into discomforts and miseries,
anxieties and anguish of soul and body, into bitterness, terror and
despair. Yea. But do we not also go higher? I challenge you with
that. What can you know in this immense safety of the intensity,
the frantic, terror-driven intensity, of many of our efforts? What
can you know of reprieves and interludes and escapes? Think of
our many happinesses beyond your ken! What do you know here of
the sweet early days of convalescence? Of going for a holiday out
of disagreeable surroundings? Of taking some great risk to body or
fortune and bringing it off? Of winning a bet against enormous odds?
Of coming out of prison? And, Sir, it has been said that there are
those in our world who have found a fascination even in pain itself.
Because our life is dreadfuller, Sir, it has, and it must have,
moments that are infinitely brighter than yours. It is titanic, Sir,
where this is merely tidy. And we are inured to it and hardened by
it. We are tempered to a finer edge. That is the point to which I am
coming. Ask us to give up our earthly disorder, our miseries and
distresses, our high death-rates and our hideous diseases, and at
the first question every man and woman in the world would say, 'Yes!
Willingly, Yes!' At the first question, Sir!"

Mr. Catskill held his audience for a moment on his extended finger.

"And then we should begin to take thought. We should ask, as you say
your naturalists asked about your flies and suchlike offensive small
game, we should ask, 'What goes with it? What is the price?' And when
we learnt that the price was to surrender that intensity of life,
that tormented energy, that pickled and experienced toughness, that
rat-like, wolf-like toughness our perpetual struggle engenders, we
should hesitate. We should hesitate. In the end, Sir, I believe, I
hope and believe, indeed I pray and believe, we should say, 'No!'
We should say, 'No!'"

Mr. Catskill was now in a state of great cerebral exaltation. He
was making short thrusting gestures with his clenched fist. His
voice rose and fell and boomed; he swayed and turned about, glanced
for the approval of his fellow Earthlings, flung stray smiles at
Mr. Burleigh.

This idea that our poor wrangling, nerveless, chance-driven world
was really a fierce and close-knit system of powerful reactions in
contrast with the evening serenities of a made and finished Utopia,
had taken complete possession of his mind. "Never before, Sir, have
I realized, as I realize now, the high, the terrible and adventurous
destinies of our earthly race. I look upon this Golden Lotus Land of
yours, this divine perfected land from which all conflict has been
banished--"

Mr. Barnstaple caught a faint smile on the face of the woman who had
reminded him of the Delphic Sibyl.

"--and I admit and admire its order and beauty as some dusty and
resolute pilgrim might pause, on his exalted and mysterious quest,
and admit and admire the order and beauty of the pleasant gardens
of some prosperous Sybarite. And like that pilgrim I may beg leave,
Sir, to question the wisdom of your way of living. For I take it,
Sir, that it is now a proven thing that life and all the energy
and beauty of life are begotten by struggle and competition and
conflict; we were moulded and wrought in hardship, and so, Sir,
were you. And yet you dream here that you have eliminated conflict
for ever. Your economic state, I gather, is some form of socialism;
you have abolished competition in all the businesses of peace. Your
political state is one universal unity; you have altogether cut out
the bracing and ennobling threat and the purging and terrifying
experience of war. Everything is ordered and provided for.
Everything is secure. Everything is secure, Sir, except for one
thing....

"I grieve to trouble your tranquillity, Sir, but I must breathe the
name of that one forgotten thing--_degeneration_! What is there here
to prevent degeneration? Are you preventing degeneration?

"What penalties are there any longer for indolence? What rewards
for exceptional energy and effort? What is there to keep men
industrious, what watchful, when there is no personal danger and
no personal loss but only some remote danger or injury to the
community? For a time by a sort of inertia you may keep going. You
may seem to be making a success of things. I admit it, you do seem
to be making a success of things. Autumnal glory! Sunset splendour!
While about you in universes parallel to yours, parallel races still
toil, still suffer, still compete and eliminate and gather strength
and energy!"

Mr. Catskill flourished his hand at the Utopians in rhetorical
triumph.

"I would not have you think, Sir, that these criticisms of your
world are offered in a hostile spirit. They are offered in the most
amiable and helpful spirit. I am the skeleton, but the most friendly
and apologetic skeleton, at your feast. I ask my searching and
disagreeable question because I must. Is it indeed the wise way that
you have chosen? You have sweetness and light--and leisure. Granted.
But if there is all this multitude of Universes, of which you have
told us, Mr. Serpentine, so clearly and illuminatingly, and if one
may suddenly open into another as ours has done into yours, I would
ask you most earnestly how safe is your sweetness, your light and
your leisure? We talk here, separated by we know not how flimsy a
partition from innumerable worlds. And at that thought, Sir, it
seems to me that as I stand here in the great golden calm of this
place I can almost hear the trampling of hungry myriads as fierce
and persistent as rats or wolves, the snarling voices of races
inured to every pain and cruelty, the threat of terrible heroisms
and pitiless aggressions...."

He brought his discourse to an abrupt end. He smiled faintly; it
seemed to Mr. Barnstaple that he triumphed over Utopia. He stood
with hands on his hips and, as if he bent his body by that method,
bowed stiffly. "Sir," he said with that ghost of a lisp of his,
his eye on Mr. Burleigh, "I have said my say."

He turned about and regarded Mr. Barnstaple for a moment with his
face screwed up almost to the appearance of a wink. He nodded his
head, as if he tapped a nail with a hammer, jerked himself into
activity, and returned to his proper place.


Section 5

Urthred did not so much answer Mr. Catskill as sit, elbow on knee
and chin on hand, thinking audibly about him.

"The gnawing vigour of the rat," he mused, "the craving pursuit of
the wolf, the mechanical persistence of wasp and fly and disease
germ, have gone out of our world. That is true. We have obliterated
that much of life's devouring forces. And lost nothing worth having.
Pain, filth, indignity for ourselves--or any creatures; they have
gone or they go. But it is not true that competition has gone from
our world. Why does he say it has? Everyone here works to his or
her utmost--for service and distinction. None may cheat himself out
of toil or duty as men did in the Age of Confusion, when the mean
and acquisitive lived and bred in luxury upon the heedlessness of
more generous types. Why does he say we degenerate? He has been told
better already. The indolent and inferior do not procreate here. And
why should he threaten us with fancies of irruptions from other,
fiercer, more barbaric worlds? It is we who can open the doors into
such other universes or close them as we choose. Because we know. We
can go to them--when we know enough we shall--but they cannot come
to us. There is no way but knowledge out of the cages of life....
What is the matter with the mind of this man?

"These Earthlings are only in the beginnings of science. They are
still for all practical ends in that phase of fear and taboos
that came also in the development of Utopia before confidence and
understanding. Out of which phase our own world struggled during the
Last Age of Confusion. The minds of these Earthlings are full of
fears and prohibitions, and though it has dawned upon them that they
may possibly control their universe, the thought is too terrible yet
for them to face. They avert their minds from it. They still want to
go on thinking, as their fathers did before them, that the universe
is being managed for them better than they can control it for
themselves. Because if that is so, they are free to obey their own
violent little individual motives. Leave things to God, they cry,
or leave them to Competition."

"Evolution was our blessed word," said Mr. Barnstaple, deeply
interested.

"It is all the same thing--God, or Evolution, or what you will--so
long as you mean a Power beyond your own which excuses you from your
duty. Utopia says, 'Do not leave things at all. Take hold.' But these
Earthlings still lack the habit of looking at reality--undraped. This
man with the white linen fetter round his neck is afraid even to
look upon men and women as they are. He is disgustingly excited by
the common human body. This man with the glass lens before his
left eye struggles to believe that there is a wise old Mother
Nature behind the appearances of things, keeping a Balance. It was
fantastic to hear about his Balance of Nature. Cannot he with two
eyes and a lens see better than that? This last man who spoke so
impressively, thinks that this old Beldame Nature is a limitless
source of will and energy if only we submit to her freaks and
cruelties and imitate her most savage moods, if only we sufficiently
thrust and kill and rob and ravish one another.... He too preaches
the old fatalism and believes it is the teaching of science....

"These Earthlings do not yet dare to see what our Mother Nature is.
At the back of their minds is still the desire to abandon themselves
to her. They do not see that except for our eyes and wills, she is
purposeless and blind. She is not awful, she is horrible. She takes
no heed to our standards, nor to any standards of excellence. She
made us by accident; all her children are bastards--undesired; she
will cherish or expose them, pet or starve or torment without rhyme
or reason. She does not heed, she does not care. She will lift us
up to power and intelligence, or debase us to the mean feebleness
of the rabbit or the slimy white filthiness of a thousand of her
parasitic inventions. There must be good in her because she made
all that is good in us--but also there is endless evil. Do not you
Earthlings see the dirt of her, the cruelty, the insane indignity of
much of her work?"

"Phew! Worse than 'Nature red in tooth and claw,'" murmured Mr.
Freddy Mush.

"These things are plain," mused Urthred. "If they dared to see.

"Half the species of life in our planet also, half and more than
half of all the things alive, were ugly or obnoxious, inane,
miserable, wretched, with elaborate diseases, helplessly
ill-adjusted to Nature's continually fluctuating conditions, when
first we took this old Hag, our Mother, in hand. We have, after
centuries of struggle, suppressed her nastier fancies, and washed
her and combed her and taught her to respect and heed the last child
of her wantonings--Man. With Man came Logos, the Word and the Will
into our universe, to watch it and fear it, to learn it and cease
to fear it, to know it and comprehend it and master it. So that we
of Utopia are no longer the beaten and starved children of Nature,
but her free and adolescent sons. We have taken over the Old Lady's
Estate. Every day we learn a little better how to master this
little planet. Every day our thoughts go out more surely to our
inheritance, the stars. And the deeps beyond and beneath the stars."

"You have reached the stars?" cried Mr. Barnstaple.

"Not yet. Not even the other planets. But very plainly the time
draws near when those great distances will cease to restrain us...."

He paused. "Many of us will have to go out into the deeps of space....
And never return.... Giving their lives....

"And into these new spaces--countless brave men...."

Urthred turned towards Mr. Catskill. "We find your frankly expressed
thoughts particularly interesting to-day. You help us to understand
the past of our own world. You help us to deal with an urgent
problem that we will presently explain to you. There are thoughts
and ideas like yours in our ancient literature of two or three
thousand years ago, the same preaching of selfish violence as though
it was a virtue. Even then intelligent men knew better, and you
yourself might know better if you were not wilfully set in wrong
opinions. But it is plain to see from your manner and bearing that
you are very wilful indeed in your opinions.

"You are not, you must realize, a very beautiful person, and
probably you are not very beautiful in your pleasures and
proceedings. But you have superabundant energy, and so it is natural
for you to turn to the excitements of risk and escape, to think that
the best thing in life is the sensation of conflict and winning.
Also in the economic confusion of such a world as yours there is an
intolerable amount of toil that must be done, toil so disagreeable
that it makes everyone of spirit anxious to thrust away as much
of it as possible and to claim exemption from it on account of
nobility, gallantry or good fortune. People in your world no doubt
persuade themselves very easily that they are justifiably exempted,
and you are under that persuasion. You live in a world of classes.
Your badly trained mind has been under no necessity to invent its
own excuses; the class into which you were born had all its excuses
ready for you. So it is you take the best of everything without
scruple and you adventure with life, chiefly at the expense of other
people, with a mind trained by all its circumstances to resist the
idea that there is any possible way of human living that can be
steadfast and disciplined and at the same time vigorous and happy.
You have argued against that persuasion all your life as though it
were your personal enemy. It is your personal enemy; it condemns your
way of life altogether, it damns you utterly for your adventures.

"Confronted now with an ordered and achieved beauty of living you
still resist; you resist to escape dismay; you argue that this world
of ours is unromantic, wanting in intensity, decadent, feeble.
Now--in the matter of physical strength, grip hands with that young
man who sits beside you."

Mr. Catskill glanced at the extended hand and shook his head
knowingly. "You go on talking," he said.

"Yet when I tell you that neither our wills nor our bodies are as
feeble as yours, your mind resists obstinately. You will not believe
it. If for a moment your mind admits it, afterwards it recoils to
the system of persuasions that protect your self-esteem. Only one of
you accepts our world at all, and he does so rather because he is
weary of yours than willing for ours. So I suppose it has to be.
Yours are Age of Confusion minds, trained to conflict, trained to
insecurity and secret self-seeking. In that fashion Nature and your
state have taught you to live and so you must needs live until
you die. Such lessons are to be unlearnt only in ten thousand
generations, by the slow education of three thousand years.

"And we are puzzled by the question, what are we to do with you? We
will try our utmost to deal fairly and friendly with you if you will
respect our laws and ways.

"But it will be very difficult, we know, for you. You do not realize
yet how difficult your habits and preconceptions will make it for
you. Your party so far has behaved very reasonably and properly,
in act if not in thought. But we have had another experience of
Earthling ways to-day of a much more tragic kind. Your talk of
fiercer, barbaric worlds breaking in upon us has had its grotesque
parallel in reality to-day. It is true; there is something fierce
and ratlike and dangerous about Earthly men. You are not the only
Earthlings who came into Utopia through this gate that swung open
for a moment to-day. There are others--"

"Of course!" said Mr. Barnstaple. "I should have guessed it! That
third lot!"

"There is yet another of these queer locomotive machines of yours
in Utopia."

"The grey car!" said Mr. Barnstaple to Mr. Burleigh. "It wasn't a
hundred yards ahead of you."

"Raced us from Hounslow," said Mr. Burleigh's driver. "Real hot
stuff."

Mr. Burleigh turned to Mr. Freddy Mush. "I think you said you
recognized someone?"

"Lord Barralonga, Sir, almost to a certainty, and I _think_ Miss
Greeta Grey."

"There were two other men," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"They will complicate things," said Mr. Burleigh.

"They do complicate things," said Urthred. "They have killed a man."

"A Utopian?"

"These other people--there are five of them--whose names you seem to
know, came into Utopia just in front of your two vehicles. Instead
of stopping as you did when they found themselves on a new strange
road, they seem to have quickened their pace very considerably.
They passed some men and women and they made extraordinary gestures
to them and abominable noises produced by an instrument specially
designed for that purpose. Further on they encountered a silver
cheetah and charged at it and ran right over it, breaking its back.
They do not seem to have paused to see what became of it. A young
man named Gold came out into the road to ask them to stop. But
their machine is made in the most fantastic way, very complex and
very foolish. It is quite unable to stop short suddenly. It is not
driven by a single engine that is completely controlled. It has a
complicated internal conflict. It has a sort of engine that drives
it forward by a complex cogged gear on the axle of the hind wheels
and it has various clumsy stopping contrivances by means of friction
at certain points. You can apparently drive the engine at the utmost
speed and at the same time jam the wheels to prevent them going
round. When this young man stepped forward in front of them, they
were quite unable to stop. They may have tried to do so. They say
they did. Their machine swerved dangerously and struck him with its
side."

"And killed him?"

"And killed him instantly. His body was horribly injured.... But
they did not stop even for that. They slowed down and had a hasty
consultation, and then seeing that people were coming they set their
machine in motion again and made off. They seem to have been seized
with a panic fear of restraint and punishment. Their motives are
very difficult to understand. At any rate they went on. They rode on
and on into our country for some hours. An aeroplane was presently
set to follow them and another to clear the road in front of them.
It was very difficult to clear the road because neither our people
nor our animals understand such vehicles as theirs--nor such
behaviour. In the afternoon they got among mountains and evidently
found our roads much too smooth and difficult for their machine. It
made extraordinary noises as though it was gritting its teeth, and
emitted a blue vapour with an offensive smell. At one corner where
it should have stopped short, it skated about and slid suddenly
sideways and rolled over a cliff and fell for perhaps twice the
height of a man into a torrent."

"And they were killed?" asked Mr. Burleigh, with, as it seemed to
Mr. Barnstaple, a touch of eagerness in his voice.

"Not one of them."

"Oh!" said Mr. Burleigh, "then what happened?"

"One of them has a broken arm and another is badly cut about the
face. The other two men and the woman are uninjured except for
fright and shock. When our people came up to them the four men held
their hands above their heads. Apparently they feared they would be
killed at once and did this as an appeal for mercy."

"And what are you doing with them?"

"We are bringing them here. It is better, we think, to keep all you
Earthlings together. At present we cannot imagine what must be done
to you. We want to learn from you and we want to be friendly with
you if it is possible. It has been suggested that you should be
returned to your world. In the end that may be the best thing to do.
But at present we do not know enough to do this certainly. Arden and
Greenlake, when they made the attempt to rotate a part of our matter
through the F dimension, believed that they would rotate it in empty
space in that dimension. The fact that you were there and were
caught into our universe, is the most unexpected thing that has
happened in Utopia for a thousand years."



CHAPTER THE SEVENTH

THE BRINGING IN OF LORD BARRALONGA'S PARTY


Section 1

The conference broke up upon this announcement, but Lord Barralonga
and his party were not brought to the Conference Gardens until long
after dark. No effort was made to restrain or control the movements
of the Earthlings. Mr. Burleigh walked down to the lake with Lady
Stella and the psychologist whose name was Lion, asking and
answering questions. Mr. Burleigh's chauffeur wandered rather
disconsolately, keeping within hail of his employer. Mr. Rupert
Catskill took Mr. Mush off by the arm as if to give him
instructions.

Mr. Barnstaple wanted to walk about alone to recall and digest the
astounding realizations of the afternoon and to accustom himself
to the wonder of this beautiful world, so beautiful and now in the
twilight so mysterious also, with its trees and flowers becoming
dim and shapeless notes of pallor and blackness and with the clear
forms and gracious proportions of its buildings melting into a
twilight indistinctness.

The earthliness of his companions intervened between him and this
world into which he felt he might otherwise have been accepted
and absorbed. He was in it, but in it only as a strange and
discordant intruder. Yet he loved it already and desired it and was
passionately anxious to become a part of it. He had a vague but very
powerful feeling that if only he could get away from his companions,
if only in some way he could cast off his earthly clothing
and everything upon him that marked him as earthly and linked him
to earth, he would by the very act of casting that off become
himself native to Utopia, and then that this tormenting sense, this
bleak distressing strangeness would vanish out of his mind. He
would suddenly find himself a Utopian in nature and reality, and
it was earth that would become the incredible dream, a dream that
would fade at last completely out of his mind.

For a time, however, Father Amerton's need of a hearer prevented
any such detachment from earthly thoughts and things. He stuck close
to Mr. Barnstaple and maintained a stream of questions and comments
that threw over this Utopian scene the quality of some Earl's Court
exhibition that the two of them were visiting and criticizing
together. It was evidently so provisional, so disputable and unreal
to him, that at any moment Mr. Barnstaple felt he would express no
astonishment if a rift in the scenery suddenly let in the clatter
of the Earl's Court railway station or gave a glimpse of the
conventional Gothic spire of St. Barnabas in the West.

At first Father Amerton's mind was busy chiefly with the fact that
on the morrow he was to be "dealt with" on account of the scene in
the conference. "How _can_ they deal with me?" he said for the
fourth time.

"I beg your pardon," said Mr. Barnstaple. Every time Mr. Amerton
began speaking Mr. Barnstaple said, "I beg your pardon," in order to
convey to him that he was interrupting a train of thought. But every
time Mr. Barnstaple said, "I beg your pardon," Mr. Amerton would
merely remark, "You ought to consult someone about your hearing,"
and then go on with what he had to say.

"How can I be _dealt_ with?" he asked of Mr. Barnstaple and the
circumambient dusk. "How can I be dealt with?"

"Oh! psycho-analysis or something of that sort," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"It takes two to play at that game," said Father Amerton, but it
seemed to Mr. Barnstaple with a slight flavour of relief in his
tone. "Whatever they ask me, whatever they suggest to me, I will not
fail--I will bear my witness."

"I have no doubt they will find it hard to suppress you," said
Mr. Barnstaple bitterly....

For a time they walked among the tall sweet-smelling, white-flowered
shrubs in silence. Now and then Mr. Barnstaple would quicken or
slacken his pace with the idea of increasing his distance from
Father Amerton but quite mechanically Father Amerton responded to
these efforts. "Promiscuity," he began again presently. "What other
word could you use?"

"I really beg your pardon," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"What other word could I have used _but_ 'promiscuity'? What else
could one expect--with people running about in this amazing want of
costume, but the morals of the monkeys' cage? They admit that our
institution of marriage is practically unknown to them!"

"It's a different world," said Mr. Barnstaple irritably. "A
different world."

"The Laws of Morality hold good for every conceivable world."

"But in a world in which people propagated by fission and there was
no sex?"

"Morality would be simpler but it would be the same morality."...

Presently Mr. Barnstaple was begging his pardon again.

"I was saying that this is a lost world."

"It doesn't _look_ lost," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"It has rejected and forgotten Salvation."

Mr. Barnstaple put his hands in his pockets and began to whistle
the barcarolle from "The Tales of Hoffman," very softly to himself.
Would Father Amerton never leave him? Could nothing be done with
Father Amerton? At the old shows at Earl's Court there used to be
wire baskets for waste paper and cigarette ends and bores generally.
If one could only tip Father Amerton suddenly into some such
receptacle!

"Salvation has been offered them, and they have rejected it and
well nigh forgotten it. And that is why we have been sent to them. We
have been sent to them to recall them to the One Thing that Matters,
to the One Forgotten Thing. Once more we have to raise the healing
symbol as Moses raised it in the Wilderness. Ours is no light
mission. We have been sent into this Hell of sensuous materialism--"

"Oh, _Lord_!" said Mr. Barnstaple, and relapsed into the barcarolle....

"I _beg_ your pardon," he exclaimed again presently.

"Where is the Pole Star? What has happened to the Wain?"

Mr. Barnstaple looked up.

He had not thought of the stars before, and he looked up prepared in
this fresh Universe to see the strangest constellations. But just as
the life and size of the planet they were on ran closely parallel
to the earth's, so he beheld above him a starry vault of familiar
forms. And just as the Utopian world failed to be altogether
parallel to its sister universe, so did these constellations seem to
be a little out in their drawing. Orion, he thought, straddled wider
and with a great unfamiliar nebula at one corner, and it was true--the
Wain was flattened out and the pointers pointed to a great void in
the heavens.

"Their Pole Star gone! The Pointers, the Wain askew! It is
symbolical," said Father Amerton.

It was only too obviously going to be symbolical. Mr. Barnstaple
realized that a fresh storm of eloquence was imminent from Father
Amerton. At any cost he felt this nuisance must be abated.


Section 2

On earth Mr. Barnstaple had been a passive victim to bores of all
sorts, delicately and painfully considerate of the mental
limitations that made their insensitive pressure possible. But the
free air of Utopia had already mounted to his head and released
initiatives that his excessively deferential recognition of others
had hitherto restrained. He had had enough of Father Amerton; it was
necessary to turn off Father Amerton, and he now proceeded to do
so with a simple directness that surprised himself.

"Father Amerton," he said, "I have a confession to make to you."

"Ah!" cried Father Amerton. "Please--anything?"

"You have been walking about with me and shouting at my ears until I
am strongly impelled to murder you."

"If what I have said has struck home--"

"It hasn't struck home. It has been a tiresome, silly, deafening
jabbering in my ears. It wearies me indescribably. It prevents my
attending to the marvellous things about us. I see exactly what you
mean when you say that there is no Pole Star here and that that is
symbolical. Before you begin I appreciate the symbol, and a very
obvious, weak and ultimately inaccurate symbol it is. But you are
one of those obstinate spirits who believes in spite of all evidence
that the eternal hills are still eternal and the fixed stars fixed
for ever. I want you to understand that I am entirely out of
sympathy with all this stuff of yours. You seem to embody all that
is wrong and ugly and impossible in Catholic teaching. I agree with
these Utopians that there is something wrong with your mind about
sex, in all probability a nasty twist given to it in early life,
and that what you keep saying and hinting about sexual life here
is horrible and outrageous. And I am equally hostile to you and
exasperated and repelled by you when you speak of religion proper.
You make religion disgusting just as you make sex disgusting. You
are a dirty priest. What _you_ call Christianity is a black and ugly
superstition, a mere excuse for malignity and persecution. It is an
outrage upon Christ. If you are a Christian, then most passionately
I declare myself _not_ a Christian. But there are other meanings
for Christianity than those you put upon it, and in another sense
this Utopia here is Christian beyond all dreaming. Utterly beyond
your understanding. We have come into this glorious world, which,
compared to our world, is like a bowl of crystal compared to an old
tin can, and you have the insufferable impudence to say that we have
been sent hither as missionaries to teach them--God knows what!"

"God _does_ know what," said Father Amerton a little taken aback,
but coming up very pluckily.

"Oh!" cried Mr. Barnstaple, and was for a moment speechless.

"Listen to me, my friend," said Father Amerton, catching at his
sleeve.

"Not for my life!" cried Mr. Barnstaple, recoiling. "See! Down that
vista, away there on the shore of the lake, those black figures are
Mr. Burleigh, Mr. Mush and Lady Stella. They brought you here. They
belong to your party and you belong to them. If they had not wanted
your company you would not have been in their car. Go to them. I
will not have you with me any longer. I refuse you and reject you.
That is your way. This, by this little building, is mine. Don't
follow me, or I will lay hands on you and bring in these Utopians
to interfere between us.... Forgive my plainness, Mr. Amerton.
But get away from me! Get away from me!"

Mr. Barnstaple turned, and seeing that Father Amerton stood
hesitating at the parting of the ways, took to his heels and ran
from him.

He fled along an alley behind tall hedges, turned sharply to the
right and then to the left, passed over a high bridge that crossed
in front of a cascade that flung a dash of spray in his face,
blundered by two couples of lovers who whispered softly in the
darkling, ran deviously across flower-studded turf, and at last
threw himself down breathless upon the steps that led up to a
terrace that looked towards lake and mountains, and was adorned,
it seemed in the dim light, with squat stone figures of seated
vigilant animals and men.

"Ye merciful stars!" cried Mr. Barnstaple. "At last I am alone."

He sat on these steps for a long time with his eyes upon the scene
about him, drinking in the satisfying realization that for a brief
interval at any rate, with no earthly presence to intervene, he
and Utopia were face to face.


Section 3

He could not call this world the world of his dreams because he had
never dared to dream of any world so closely shaped to the desires
and imaginations of his heart. But surely this world it was, or a
world the very fellow of it, that had lain deep beneath the thoughts
and dreams of thousands of sane and troubled men and women in the
world of disorder from which he had come. It was no world of empty
peace, no such golden decadence of indulgence as Mr. Catskill tried
to imagine it; it was a world, Mr. Barnstaple perceived, intensely
militant, conquering and to conquer, prevailing over the obduracy of
force and matter, over the lifeless separations of empty space and
all the antagonistic mysteries of being.

In Utopia in the past, obscured by the superficial exploits of
statesmen like Burleigh and Catskill and the competition of traders
and exploiters every whit as vile and vulgar as their earthly
compeers, the work of quiet and patient thinkers and teachers had
gone on and the foundations which sustained this serene intensity
of activity had been laid. How few of these pioneers had ever felt
more than a transitory gleam of the righteous loveliness of the
world their lives made possible!

And yet even in the hate and turmoil and distresses of the Days of
Confusion there must have been earnest enough of the exquisite and
glorious possibilities of life. Over the foulest slums the sunset
called to the imaginations of men, and from mountain ridges, across
great valleys, from cliffs and hillsides and by the uncertain and
terrible splendours of the sea, men must have had glimpses of the
conceivable and attainable magnificence of being. Every flower
petal, every sunlit leaf, the vitality of young things, the happy
moments of the human mind transcending itself in art, all these
things must have been material for hope, incentive to effort. And
now at last--this world!

Mr. Barnstaple lifted up his hands like one who worships to the
friendly multitude of the stars above him.

"I have seen," he whispered. "I have seen."

Little lights and soft glows of illumination were coming out here
and there over this great park of flowerlike buildings and garden
spaces that sloped down towards the lake. A circling aeroplane,
itself a star, hummed softly overhead.

A slender girl came past him down the steps and paused at the sight
of him.

"Are you one of the Earthlings?" came the question, and a beam of
soft light shone momentarily upon Mr. Barnstaple from the bracelet
on her arm.

"I came to-day," said Mr. Barnstaple, peering up at her.

"You are the man who came alone in a little machine of tin, with
rubber air-bags round the wheels, very rusty underneath, and
painted yellow. I have been looking at it."

"It is not a bad little car," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"At first we thought the priest came in it with you."

"He is no friend of mine."

"There were priests like that in Utopia many years ago. They caused
much mischief among the people."

"He was with the other lot," said Mr. Barnstaple. "For their
week-end party I should think him--rather a mistake."

She sat down a step or so above him.

"It is wonderful that you should come here out of your world to us.
Do you find this world of our very wonderful? I suppose many things
that seen quite commonplace to me because I have been born among
them seem wonderful to you."

"You are not very old?"

"I am eleven. I am learning the history of the Ages Of Confusion,
and they say your world is still in an Age of Confusion. It is just
as though you came to us out of the past--out of history. I was in
the Conference and I was watching your face. You love this present
world of ours--at least you love it much more than your other people
do."

"I want to live all the rest of my life in it."

"I wonder if that is possible?"

"Why should it not be possible? It will be easier than sending me
back. I should not be very much in the way. I should only be here
for twenty or thirty years at the most, and I would learn everything
I could and do everything I was told."

"But isn't there work that you have to do in your own world?"

Mr. Barnstaple made no answer to that. He did not seem to hear it.
It was the girl who presently broke the silence.

"They say that when we Utopians are young, before our minds and
characters are fully formed and matured, we are very like the men
and women of the Age of Confusion. We are more egotistical then,
they tell us; life about us is still so unknown, that we are
adventurous and romantic. I suppose I am egotistical yet--and
adventurous. And it does still seem to me that in spite of many
terrible and dreadful things there was much that must have been
wildly exciting and desirable in that past--which is still so like
your present. What can it have been like to have been a general
entering a conquered city? Or a prince being crowned? Or to be rich
and able to astonish people by acts of power and benevolence? Or to
be a martyr led out to die for some splendid misunderstood cause?"

"These things sound better in stories and histories than in reality,"
said Mr. Barnstaple after due consideration. "Did you hear Mr.
Rupert Catskill, the last of the Earthlings to make a speech?"

"He thought romantically--but he did not look romantic."

"He has lived most romantically. He has fought bravely in wars. He
has been a prisoner and escaped wonderfully from prison. His violent
imaginations have caused the deaths of thousands of people. And
presently we shall see another romantic adventurer in this Lord
Barralonga they are bringing hither. He is enormously rich and he
tries to astonish people with his wealth--just as you have dreamt
of astonishing people."

"Are they not astonished?"

"Romance is not reality," said Mr. Barnstaple. "He is one of a
number of floundering, corrupting rich men who are a weariness to
themselves and an intolerable nuisance to the rest of our world.
They want to do vulgar showy things. This man Barralonga was an
assistant to a photographer and something of an actor when a
certain invention called moving pictures came into our world. He
became a great prospector in the business of showing these pictures,
partly by accident, partly by the unscrupulous cheating of various
inventors. Then he launched out into speculations in shipping and in
a trade we carry on in our world in frozen meat brought from great
distances. He made food costly for many people and impossible for
some, and so he grew rich. For in our world men grow wealthy by
intercepting rather than by serving. And having become ignobly rich,
certain of our politicians, for whom he did some timely services,
ennobled him by giving him the title of Lord. Do you understand the
things I am saying? Was your Age of Confusion so like ours? You did
not know it was so ugly. Forgive me if I disillusion you about the
Age of Confusion and its romantic possibilities. But I have just
stepped out of the dust and disorder and noise of its indiscipline,
out of limitation, cruelties and distresses, out of a weariness
in which hope dies.... Perhaps if my world attracts you you may
yet have an opportunity of adventuring out of all this into its
disorders.... That will be an adventure indeed.... Who knows what
may happen between our worlds?... But you will not like it, I am
afraid. You cannot imagine how dirty our world is.... Dirt and
disease, these are in the trailing skirts of all romance...."

A silence fell between them; he followed his own thoughts and the
girl sat and wondered over him.

At length he spoke again.

"Shall I tell you what I was thinking of when you spoke to me?"

"Yes?"

"Your world is the consummation of a million ancient dreams. It is
wonderful! It is wonder, high as heaven. But it is a great grief to
me that two dear friends of mine cannot be here with me to see what
I am seeing. It is queer how strong the thought of them is in my
mind. One has passed now beyond all the universes, alas!--but the
other is still in my world. You are a student, my dear; everyone of
your world, I suppose, is a student here, but in our world students
are a class apart. We three were happy together because we were
students and not yet caught into the mills of senseless toil, and
we were none the less happy perhaps because we were miserably poor
and often hungry together. We used to talk and dispute together and
in our students' debating society, discussing the disorders of our
world and how some day they might be bettered. Was there, in your
Age of Confusion, that sort of eager, hopeful, poverty-struck
student life?"

"Go on," said the girl with her eyes intent on his dim profile. "In
old novels I have read of just that hungry dreaming student world."

"We three agreed that the supreme need of our time was education. We
agreed that was the highest service we could join. We all set about
it in our various ways, I the least useful of the three. My friends
and I drifted a little apart. They edited a great monthly periodical
that helped to keep the world of science together, and my friend,
serving a careful and grudging firm of publishers, edited school
books for them, conducted an educational paper, and also inspected
schools for our university. He was too heedless of pay and profit
ever to become even passably well off though these publishers
profited greatly by his work; his whole life was a continual service
of toil for teaching; he did not take as much as a month's holiday
in any year in his life. While he lived I thought little of the work
he was doing, but since he died I have heard from teachers whose
schools he inspected, and from book writers whom he advised, of the
incessant high quality of his toil and the patience and sympathy of
his work. On such lives as his this Utopia in which your sweet life
is opening is founded; on such lives our world of earth will yet
build its Utopia. But the life of this friend of mine ended abruptly
in a way that tore my heart. He worked too hard and too long through
a crisis in which it was inconvenient for him to take a holiday. His
nervous system broke down with shocking suddenness, his mind gave
way, he passed into a phase of acute melancholia and--died. For it
is perfectly true, old Nature has neither righteousness nor pity.
This happened a few weeks ago. That other old friend and I, with
his wife, who had been his tireless helper, were chief among the
mourners at his funeral. To-night the memory of that comes back to
me with extraordinary vividness. I do not know how you dispose of
your dead here, but on earth the dead are mostly buried in the
earth."

"We are burnt," said the girl.

"Those who are liberal-minded in our world burn also. Our friend was
burnt, and we stood and took our part in a service according to the
rites of our ancient religion in which we no longer believed, and
presently we saw his coffin, covered with wreaths of flowers, slide
from before us out of our sight through the gates that led to the
furnaces of the crematorium, and as it went, taking with it so much
of my youth, I saw that my other dear old friend was sobbing, and
I too was wrung to the pitch of tears to think that so valiant
and devoted and industrious a life should end, as it seemed, so
miserably and thanklessly. The priest had been reading a long
contentious discourse by a theological writer named Paul, full of
bad arguments by analogy and weak assertions. I wished that instead
of the ideas of this ingenious ancient we could have had some
discourse upon the real nobility of our friend, on the pride and
intensity of his work and on his scorn for mercenary things. All his
life he had worked with unlimited devotion for such a world as this,
and yet I doubt if he had ever had any realization of the clearer,
nobler life for man that his life of toil and the toil of such lives
as his, were making sure and certain in the days to come. He lived by
faith. He lived too much by faith. There was not enough sunlight in
his life. If I could have him here now--and that other dear friend
who grieved for him so bitterly; if I could have them both here;
if I could give up my place here to them so that they could see, as
I see, the real greatness of their lives reflected in these great
consequences of such lives as theirs--then, then I could rejoice in
Utopia indeed.... But I feel now as if I had taken my old friend's
savings and was spending them on myself...."

Mr. Barnstaple suddenly remembered the youth of his hearer. "Forgive
me, my dear child, for running on in this fashion. But your voice
was kind."

The girl's answer was to bend down and brush his extended hand with
her soft lips.

Then suddenly she sprang to her feet. "Look at that light," she
said, "among the stars!"

Mr. Barnstaple stood up beside her.

"That is the aeroplane bringing Lord Barralonga and his party; Lord
Barralonga who killed a man to-day! Is he a very big, strong
man--ungovernable and wonderful?"

Mr. Barnstaple, struck by a sudden doubt, looked sharply at the
sweet upturned face beside him.

"I have never seen him. But I believe he is a youngish, baldish,
undersized man, who suffers very gravely from a disordered liver and
kidneys. This has prevented the dissipation of his energies upon
youthful sports and pleasures and enabled him to concentrate upon
the acquisition of property. And so he was able to buy the noble
title that touches your imagination. Come with me and look at him."

The girl stood still and met his eyes. She was eleven years old
and she was as tall as he was.

"But was there no romance in the past?"

"Only in the hearts of the young. And it died."

"But is there no romance?"

"Endless romance--and it has all to come. It comes for you."


Section 4

The bringing in of Lord Barralonga and his party was something of
an anti-climax to Mr. Barnstaple's wonderful day. He was tired and,
quite unreasonably, he resented the invasion of Utopia by these
people.

The two parties of Earthlings were brought together in a brightly
lit hall near the lawn upon which the Barralonga aeroplane had
come down. The newcomers came in in a group together, blinking,
travel-worn and weary-looking. But it was evident they were greatly
relieved to encounter other Earthlings in what was to them a still
intensely puzzling experience. For they had had nothing to compare
with the calm and lucid discussion of the Conference Place. Their
lapse into this strange world was still an incomprehensible riddle
for them.

Lord Barralonga was the owner of the gnome-like face that had looked
out at Mr. Barnstaple when the large grey car had passed him on the
Maidenhead Road. His skull was very low and broad above his brows
so that he reminded Mr. Barnstaple of the flat stopper of a glass
bottle. He looked hot and tired, he was considerably dishevelled as
if from a struggle, and one arm was in a sling; his little brown
eyes were as alert and wary as those of a wicked urchin in the hands
of a policeman. Sticking close to him like a familiar spirit was a
small, almost jockey-like chauffeur, whom he addressed as "Ridley."
Ridley's face also was marked by the stern determination of a man
in a difficult position not in any manner to give himself away. His
left cheek and ear had been cut in the automobile smash and were
liberally adorned with sticking-plaster. Miss Greeta Grey, the
lady of the party, was a frankly blonde beauty in a white flannel
tailor-made suit. She was extraordinarily unruffled by the
circumstances in which she found herself; it was as if she had no
sense whatever of their strangeness. She carried herself with the
habitual hauteur of a beautiful girl almost professionally exposed
to the risk of unworthy advances. Anywhere.

The other two people of the party were a grey-faced, grey-clad
American, also very wary-eyed, who was, Mr. Barnstaple learnt from
Mr. Mush, Hunker, the Cinema King, and a thoroughly ruffled-looking
Frenchman, a dark, smartly dressed man, with an imperfect command
of English, who seemed rather to have fallen into Lord Barralonga's
party than to have belonged to it properly. Mr. Barnstaple's mind
leapt to the conclusion, and nothing occurred afterwards to change
his opinion, that some interest in the cinematograph had brought
this gentleman within range of Lord Barralonga's hospitality and
that he had been caught, as a foreigner may so easily be caught,
into the embrace of a thoroughly uncongenial week-end expedition.

As Lord Barralonga and Mr. Hunker came forward to greet Mr. Burleigh
and Mr. Catskill, this Frenchman addressed himself to Mr. Barnstaple
with the inquiry whether he spoke French.

"I cannot understand," he said. "We were to have gone to
Viltshire--Wiltshire, and then one 'orrible thing has happen after
another. What is it we have come to and what sort of people are all
these people who speak most excellent French? Is it a joke of Lord
Barralonga, or a dream, or what has happen to us?"

Mr. Barnstaple attempted some explanation.

"Another dimension," said the Frenchman, "an other worl'. That is
all very well. But I have my business to attend to in London. I have
no need to be brought back in this way to France, some sort of France,
some other France in some other worl'. It is too much of a joke
altogether."

Mr. Barnstaple attempted some further exposition. It was clear from
his interlocutor's puzzled face that the phrases he used were too
difficult. He turned helplessly to Lady Stella and found her ready
to undertake the task. "This lady," he said, "will be able to make
things plain to you. Lady Stella, this is Monsieur--"

"Emile Dupont," the Frenchman bowed. "I am what you call a
journalist and publicist. I am interested in the cinematograph from
the point of view of education and propaganda. It is why I am here
with his Lordship Barralonga."

French conversation was Lady Stella's chief accomplishment. She
sailed into it now very readily. She took over the elucidation of
M. Dupont, and only interrupted it to tell Miss Greeta Grey how
pleasant it was to have another woman with her in this strange
world.

Relieved of M. Dupont, Mr. Barnstaple stood back and surveyed the
little group of Earthlings in the centre of the hall and the circle
of tall, watchful Utopians about them and rather aloof from them.
Mr. Burleigh was being distantly cordial to Lord Barralonga, and
Mr. Hunker was saying what a great pleasure it was to him to meet
"Britain's foremost statesman." Mr. Catskill stood in the most
friendly manner beside Barralonga; they knew each other well; and
Father Amerton exchanged comments with Mr. Mush. Ridley and Penk,
after some moments of austere regard, had gone apart to discuss the
technicalities of the day's experience in undertones. Nobody paid
any attention to Mr. Barnstaple.

It was like a meeting at a railway station. It was like a reception.
It was utterly incredible and altogether commonplace. He was weary.
He was saturated and exhausted by wonder.

"Oh, I am going to my bed!" he yawned suddenly. "I am going to my
little bed."

He made his way through the friendly-eyed Utopians out into the calm
starlight. He nodded to the strange nebula at the corner of Orion as
a weary parent might nod to importunate offspring. He would consider
it again in the morning. He staggered drowsily through the gardens
to his own particular retreat.

He disrobed and went to sleep as immediately and profoundly as a
tired child.



CHAPTER THE EIGHTH

EARLY MORNING IN UTOPIA


Section 1

Mr. Barnstaple awakened slowly out of profound slumber.

He had a vague feeling that a very delightful and wonderful dream
was slipping from him. He tried to keep on with the dream and not
to open his eyes. It was about a great world of beautiful people
who had freed themselves from a thousand earthly troubles. But it
dissolved and faded from his mind. It was not often nowadays that
dreams came to Mr. Barnstaple. He lay very still with his eyes
closed, reluctantly coming awake to the affairs of every day.

The cares and worries of the last fortnight resumed their sway.
Would he ever be able to get away for a holiday by himself? Then he
remembered that he had already got his valise stowed away in the
Yellow Peril. But surely that was not last night; that was the night
before last, and he had started--he remembered now starting and the
little thrill of getting through the gate before Mrs. Barnstaple
suspected anything. He opened his eyes and fixed them on a white
ceiling, trying to recall that journey. He remembered turning into
the Camberwell New Road and the bright exhilaration of the morning,
Vauxhall Bridge and that nasty tangle of traffic at Hyde Park
Corner. He always maintained that the west of London was far more
difficult for motoring than the east. Then--had he gone to Uxbridge?
No. He recalled the road to Slough and then came a blank in his
mind.

What a very good ceiling this was! Not a crack nor a stain!

But how had he spent the rest of the day? He must have got somewhere
because here he was in a thoroughly comfortable bed--an excellent
bed. With a thrush singing. He had always maintained that a good
thrush could knock spots off a nightingale, but this thrush was a
perfect Caruso. And another answering it! In July! Pangbourne and
Caversham were wonderful places for nightingales. In June. But this
was July--and thrushes.... Across these drowsy thought-phantoms
came the figure of Mr. Rupert Catskill, hands on hips, face and
head thrust forward speaking, saying astonishing things. To a naked
seated figure with a grave intent face. And other figures. One with
a face like the Delphic Sibyl. Mr. Barnstaple began to remember that
in some way he had got himself mixed up with a week-end party at
Taplow Court. Now had this speech been given at Taplow Court? At
Taplow Court they wear clothes. But perhaps the aristocracy in
retirement and privacy--?

Utopia?... But was it possible?

Mr. Barnstaple sat up in his bed in a state of extreme amazement.
"Impossible!" he said. He was lying in a little loggia half open to
the air. Between the slender pillars of fluted glass he saw a range
of snow-topped mountains, and in the foreground a great cluster of
tall spikes bearing deep red flowers. The bird was still singing--a
glorified thrush, in a glorified world. Now he remembered
everything. Now it was all clear. The sudden twisting of the car,
the sound like the snapping of a fiddle string and--Utopia! Now he
had it all, from the sight of sweet dead Greenlake to the bringing
in of Lord Barralonga under the strange unfamiliar stars. It was
no dream. He looked at his hand on the exquisitely fine coverlet. He
felt his rough chin. It was a world real enough for shaving--and for
a very definite readiness for breakfast. Very--for he had missed his
supper. And as if in answer to his thought a smiling girl appeared
ascending the steps to his sleeping-place and bearing a little tray.
After all, there was much to be said for Mr. Burleigh. To his swift
statesmanship it was that Mr. Barnstaple owed this morning cup of
tea.

"Good morning," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"Why not?" said the young Utopian, and put down his tea and smiled
at him in a motherly fashion and departed.

"Why not a good morning, I suppose," said Mr. Barnstaple and
meditated for a moment, chin on knees, and then gave his attention
to the bread-and-butter and tea.


Section 2

The little dressing-room in which he found his clothes lying just
as he had dumped them overnight, was at once extraordinarily simple
and extraordinarily full of interest for Mr. Barnstaple. He paddled
about it humming as he examined it.

The bath was much shallower than an ordinary earthly bath;
apparently the Utopians did not believe in lying down and stewing.
And the forms of everything were different, simpler and more
graceful. On earth he reflected art was largely wit. The artist
had a certain limited selection of obdurate materials and certain
needs, and his work was a clever reconciliation of the obduracy and the
necessity and of the idiosyncrasy of the substance to the aesthetic
preconceptions of the human mind. How delightful, for example, was
the earthly carpenter dealing cleverly with the grain and character
of this wood or that. But here the artist had a limitless control of
material, and that element of witty adaptation had gone out of his
work. His data were the human mind and body. Everything in this
little room was unobtrusively but perfectly convenient--and difficult
to misuse. If you splashed too much a thoughtful outer rim tidied
things up for you.

In a tray by the bath was a very big fine sponge. So either Utopians
still dived for sponges or they grew them or trained them (who could
tell?) to come up of their own accord.

As he set out his toilet things a tumbler was pushed off a glass
shelf on to the floor and did not break. Mr. Barnstaple in an
experimental mood dropped it again and still it did not break.

He could not find taps at first though there was a big washing basin
as well as a bath. Then he perceived a number of studs on the walls
with black marks that might be Utopian writing. He experimented. He
found very hot water and then very cold water filling his bath, a
fountain of probably soapy warm water, and other fluids,--one with an
odour of pine and one with a subdued odour of chlorine. The Utopian
characters on these studs set him musing for a time; they were the
first writing he had seen; they appeared to be word characters,
but whether they represented sounds or were greatly simplified
hieroglyphics he could not imagine. Then his mind went off at a
tangent in another direction because the only metal apparent in this
dressing-room was gold. There was, he noted, an extraordinary lot of
gold in the room. It was set and inlaid in gold. The soft yellow
lines gleamed and glittered. Gold evidently was cheap in Utopia.
Perhaps they knew how to make it.

He roused himself to the business of his toilet. There was no
looking-glass in the room, but when he tried what he thought was
the handle of a cupboard door, he found himself opening a triple
full-length mirror. Afterwards he was to discover that there were
no displayed mirrors in Utopia; Utopians, he was to learn, thought
it indecent to be reminded of themselves in that way. The Utopian
method was to scrutinize oneself, see that one was all right and
then forget oneself for the rest of the day. He stood now surveying
his pyjamaed and unshaven self with extreme disfavour. Why do
respectable citizens favour such ugly pink-striped pyjamas? When
he unpacked his nail-brush and tooth-brush, shaving-brush and
washing-glove, they seemed to him to have the coarseness of a popular
burlesque. His tooth-brush was a particularly ignoble instrument.
He wished now he had bought a new one at the chemist's shop near
Victoria Station.

And what nasty queer things his clothes were!

He had a fantastic idea of adopting Utopian ideas of costume, but
a reflective moment before his mirror restrained him. Then he
remembered that he had packed a silk tennis shirt and flannels.
Suppose he wore those, without a collar stud or tie--and went
bare-footed?

He surveyed his feet. As feet went on earth they were not unsightly
feet. But on earth they had been just wasted.


Section 3

A particularly clean and radiant Mr. Barnstaple, white-clad,
bare-necked and bare-footed, presently emerged into the Utopian
sunrise. He smiled, stretched his arms and took a deep breath of
the sweet air. Then suddenly his face became hard and resolute.

From another little sleeping house not two hundred yards away Father
Amerton was emerging. Intuitively Mr. Barnstaple knew he meant
either to forgive or be forgiven for the overnight quarrel. It would
be a matter of chance whether he would select the role of offender
or victim; what was certain was that he would smear a dreary mess of
emotional personal relationship over the jewel-like clearness and
brightness of the scene. A little to the right of Mr. Barnstaple and
in front of him were wide steps leading down towards the lake. Three
strides and he was going down these steps two at a time. It may have
been his hectic fancy, but it seemed to him that he heard the voice
of Father Amerton, "Mr. _Barn_--staple," in pursuit.

Mr. Barnstaple doubled and doubled again and crossed a bridge across
an avalanche gully, a bridge with huge masonry in back and roof
and with delicate pillars of prismatic glass towards the lake. The
sunlight entangled in these pillars broke into splashes of red
and blue and golden light. Then at a turfy corner gay with blue
gentians, he narrowly escaped a collision with Mr. Rupert Catskill.
Mr. Catskill was in the same costume that he had worn on the
previous day except that he was without his grey top hat. He walked
with his hands clasped behind him.

"Hullo!" he said. "What's the hurry? We seem to be the first people
up."

"I saw Father Amerton--"

"That accounts for it. You were afraid of being caught up in a
service, Matins or Prime or whatever he calls it. Wise man to run.
He shall pray for the lot of us. Me too."

He did not wait for any endorsement from Mr. Barnstaple, but went on
talking.

"You have slept well? What did you think of the old fellow's
answer to my speech. Eh? Evasive cliches. When in doubt, abuse
the plaintiff's attorney. We don't agree with him because we have
bad hearts."

"What old fellow do you mean?"

"The worthy gentleman who spoke after me."

"Urthred! But he's not forty."

"He's seventy-three. He told us afterwards. They live long here, a
lingering business. Our lives are a fitful hectic fever from their
point of view. But as Tennyson said, 'Better fifty years of Europe
than a cycle of Cathay!' H'm? He evaded my points. This is Lotus
Land, Sunset Land; we shan't be thanked for disturbing its
slumbers."

"I doubt their slumbers."

"Perhaps the Socialist bug has bit you too. Yes--I see it has!
Believe me this is the most complete demonstration of decadence it
would be possible to imagine. Complete. And we _shall_ disturb their
slumbers, never fear. Nature, you will see, is on our side--in a way
no one has thought of yet."

"But I don't see the decadence," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"None so blind as those who won't see. It's everywhere. Their large
flushed pseudo-health. Like fatted cattle. And their treatment of
Barralonga. They don't know how to treat him. They don't even arrest
him. They've never arrested anyone for a thousand years. He careers
through their land, killing and slaying and frightening and
disturbing and they're flabbergasted, Sir, simply flabbergasted.
It's like a dog running amuck in a world full of sheep. If he hadn't
had a side-slip I believe he would be hooting and snorting and
careering along now--killing people. They've lost the instinct of
social defence."

"I wonder."

"A very good attitude of mind. If indulged in, in moderation. But
when your wondering is over, you will begin to see that I am right.
H'm? Ah! There on that terrace! Isn't that my Lord Barralonga and
his French acquaintance? It is. Inhaling the morning air. I think
with your permission I will go on and have a word with them. Which
way did you say Father Amerton was? I don't want to disturb his
devotions. This way? Then if I go to the right--"

He grimaced amiably over his shoulder.


Section 4

Mr. Barnstaple came upon two Utopians gardening. They had two light
silvery wheelbarrows, and they were cutting out old wood and
overblown clusters from a line of thickets that sprawled over a
rough-heaped ridge of rock and foamed with crimson and deep red
roses. These gardeners had great leather gauntlets and aprons of
tanned skin, and they carried hooks and knives.

Mr. Barnstaple had never before seen such roses as they were tending
here; their fragrance filled the air. He did not know that double
roses could be got in mountains; bright red single sorts he had seen
high up in Switzerland, but not such huge loose-flowered monsters as
these. They dwarfed their leaves. Their wood was in long, thorny,
snaky-red streaked stems that writhed wide and climbed to the
rocky lumps over which they grew. Their great petals fell like red
snow and like drifting moths and like blood upon the soft soil that
sheltered amidst the brown rocks.

"You are the first Utopians I have actually seen at work," he said.

"This isn't our work," smiled the nearer of the two, a fair-haired,
freckled, blue-eyed youth. "But as we are for these roses we have
to keep them in order."

"Are they your roses?"

"Many people think these double mountain roses too much trouble and
a nuisance with their thorns and sprawling branches, and many people
think only the single sorts of roses ought to be grown in these high
places and that this lovely sort ought to be left to die out up
here. Are you for our roses?"

"Such roses as these?" said Mr. Barnstaple. "Altogether."

"Good! Then just bring me up my barrow closer for all this litter.
We're responsible for the good behaviour of all this thicket
reaching right down there almost to the water."

"And you have to see to it yourselves?"

"Who else?"

"But couldn't you get someone--pay someone to see to it for you?"

"Oh, hoary relic from the ancient past!" the young man replied. "Oh,
fossil ignoramus from a barbaric universe! Don't you realize that
there is no working class in Utopia? It died out fifteen hundred
years or so ago. Wages-slavery, pimping and so forth are done with.
We read about them in books. Who loves the rose must serve the
rose--himself."

"But you work."

"Not for wages. Not because anyone else loves or desires something
else and is too lazy to serve it or get it himself. We work, part
of the brain, part of the will, of Utopia."

"May I ask at what?"

"I explore the interior of our planet. I study high-pressure
chemistry. And my friend--"

He interrogated his friend, whose dark face and brown eyes appeared
suddenly over a foam of blossom. "I do Food."

"A cook?"

"Of sorts. Just now I am seeing to your Earthling dietary. It's most
interesting and curious--but I should think rather destructive.
I plan your meals.... I see you look anxious, but I saw to your
breakfast last night." He glanced at a minute wrist-watch under the
gauntlet of his gardening glove. "It will be ready in about an hour.
How was the early tea?"

"Excellent," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"Good," said the dark young man. "I did my best. I hope the
breakfast will be as satisfactory. I had to fly two hundred
kilometres for a pig last night and kill it and cut it up myself,
and find out how to cure it. Eating bacon has gone out of fashion in
Utopia. I hope you will find my rashers satisfactory."

"It seems very rapid curing--for a rasher," said Mr. Barnstaple.
"We could have done without it."

"Your spokesman made such a point of it."

The fair young man struggled out of the thicket and wheeled his
barrow away. Mr. Barnstaple wished the dark young man "Good
morning."

"Why shouldn't it be?" asked the dark young man.


Section 5

He discovered Ridley and Penk approaching him. Ridley's face and ear
were still adorned with sticking-plaster and his bearing was eager
and anxious. Penk followed a little way behind him, holding one hand
to the side of his face. Both were in their professional dress,
white-topped caps, square-cut leather coats and black gaiters; they
had made no concessions to Utopian laxity.

Ridley began to speak as soon as he judged Mr. Barnstaple was within
earshot.

"You don't 'appen to know, Mister, where these 'ere decadents shoved
our car?"

"I thought your car was all smashed up."

"Not a Rolls-Royce--not like that. Wind-screen, mud-guards and the
on-footboard perhaps. We went over sideways. I want to 'ave a look at
it. And I didn't turn the petrol off. The carburettor was leaking a
bit. My fault. I 'adn't been careful enough with the strainer. If she
runs out of petrol, where's one to get more of it in this blasted
Elysium? I ain't seen a sign anywhere. I know if I don't get that
car into running form before Lord Barralonga wants it there's going
to be trouble."

Mr. Barnstaple had no idea where the cars were.

"'Aven't you a car of your own?" asked Ridley reproachfully.

"I have. But I've never given it a thought since I got out of it."

"Owner-driver," said Ridley bitterly.

"Anyhow, I can't help you find your cars. Have you asked any of the
Utopians?"

"Not us. We don't like the style of 'em," said Ridley.

"They'll tell you."

"And watch us--whatever we do to our cars. They don't get a chance
of looking into a Rolls-Royce every day in the year. Next thing we
shall have them driving off in 'em. I don't like the place, and I
don't like these people. They're queer. They ain't decent. His
lordship says they're a lot of degenerates, and it seems to me his
lordship is about right. I ain't a Puritan, but all this running
about without clothes is a bit too thick for me. I wish I knew where
they'd stowed those cars."

Mr. Barnstaple was considering Penk. "You haven't hurt your face?"
he asked.

"Nothing to speak of," said Penk. "I suppose we ought to be
getting on."

Ridley looked at Penk and then at Mr. Barnstaple. "He's had a bit
of a contoosion," he remarked, a faint smile breaking through his
sourness.

"We better be getting on if we're going to find those cars," said
Penk.

A grin of intense enjoyment appeared upon Ridley's face. "'E's
bumped against something."

"Oh--_shut it_!" said Penk.

But the thing was too good to keep back. "One of these girls
'it 'im."

"What do you mean?" said Mr. Barnstaple. "You haven't been taking
liberties--?"

"I 'ave _not_," said Penk. "But as Mr. Ridley's been so obliging as
to start the topic I suppose I got to tell wot 'appened. It jest
illustrates the uncertainties of being among a lot of ‘arf-savage,
‘arf-crazy people, like we got among."

Ridley smiled and winked at Mr. Barnstaple. "Regular 'ard clout
she gave 'im. Knocked him over. 'E put 'is 'and on 'er shoulder
and _clop_! over 'e went. Never saw anything like it."

"Rather unfortunate," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"It all 'appened in a second like."

"It's a pity it happened."

"Don't you go making any mistake about it, Mister, and don't you go
running off with any false ideas about it," said Penk. "I don't
want the story to get about--it might do me a lot of 'arm with Mr.
Burleigh. Pity Mr. Ridley couldn't 'old 'is tongue. What provoked
her I do not know. She came into my room as I was getting up, and
she wasn't what you might call wearing anything, and she looked a
bit saucy, to my way of thinking, and--well, something come into
my head to say to her, something--well, just the least little bit
sporty, so to speak. One can't always control one's thoughts--can
one? A man's a man. If a man's expected to be civil in his private
thoughts to girls without a stitch, so to speak--_well_! I dunno. I
really do not know. It's against nature. I never said it, whatever
it was I thought of. Mr. Ridley 'ere will bear me out. I never said
a word to her. I 'adn't opened my lips when she hit me. Knocked me
over, she did--like a ninepin. Didn't even seem angry about it. A
'ook-'it--sideways. It was surprise as much as anything floored me."

"But Ridley says you touched her."

"Laid me 'and on 'er shoulder perhaps, in a sort of fatherly way. As
she was turning to go--not being sure whether I wasn't going to speak
to her, I admit. And there you are! If I'm to get into trouble
because I was wantonly 'it--"

Penk conveyed despair of the world by an eloquent gesture.

Mr. Barnstaple considered. "I shan't make trouble," he said. "But
all the same I think we must all be very careful with these
Utopians. Their ways are not our ways."

"Thank God!" said Ridley. "The sooner I get out of this world back
to Old England, the better I shall like it."

He turned to go.

"You should 'ear 'is lordship," said Ridley over his shoulder. "'E
says it's just a world of bally degenerates--rotten degenerates--in
fact, if you'll excuse me--@ * @ * ! * ! * $ * $ * ! degenerates.
Eh? That about gets 'em."

"The young woman's arm doesn't seem to have been very degenerate,"
said Mr. Barnstaple, standing the shock bravely.

"Don't it?" said Ridley bitterly. "That's all _you_ know. Why! if
there's one sign more sure than another about degeneration it's
when women take to knocking men about. It's against instink. In
any respectable decent world such a thing couldn't possibly 'ave
'appened. No 'ow!"

"No--'ow," echoed Penk.

"In _our_ world, such a girl would jolly soon 'ave 'er lesson.
Jolly soon. See?"

But Mr. Barnstaple's roving eye had suddenly discovered Father
Amerton approaching very rapidly across a wide space of lawn and
making arresting gestures. Mr. Barnstaple perceived he must act
at once.

“Now here's someone who will certainly be able to help you find your
cars, if he cares to do so. He's a most helpful man--Father Amerton.
And the sort of views he has about women are the sort of views you
have. You are bound to get on together. If you will stop him and
put the whole case to him--plainly and clearly.”

He set off at a brisk pace towards the lake shore.

He could not be far now from the little summer-house that ran out
over the water against which the gaily coloured boats were moored.

If he were to get into one of these and pull out into the lake he
would have Father Amerton at a very serious disadvantage. Even if
that good man followed suit. One cannot have a really eloquent
emotional scene when one is pulling hard in pursuit of another boat.


Section 6

As Mr. Barnstaple untied the bright white canoe with the big blue
eye painted at its prow that he had chosen, Lady Stella appeared on
the landing-stage. She came out of the pavilion that stood over the
water, and something in her quick movement as she emerged suggested
to Mr. Barnstaple's mind that she had been hiding there. She glanced
about her and spoke very eagerly. "Are you going to row out upon
the lake, Mr. Bastaple? May I come?"

She was attired, he noted, in a compromise between the Earthly and
the Utopian style. She was wearing what might have been either
a very simple custard-coloured tea-robe or a very sophisticated
bath-wrap; it left her slender, pretty arms bare and free except for
a bracelet of amber and gold, and on her bare feet--and they were
unusually shapely feet--were sandals. Her head was bare, and her dark
hair very simply done with a little black and gold fillet round it
that suited her intelligent face. Mr. Barnstaple was an ignoramus
about feminine costume, but he appreciated the fact that she had
been clever in catching the Utopian note.

He helped her into the canoe. "We will paddle right out--a good way,"
she said with another glance over her shoulder, and sat down.

For a time Mr. Barnstaple paddled straight out so that he had
nothing before him but sunlit water and sky, the low hills that
closed in the lake towards the great plain, the huge pillars of the
distant dam, and Lady Stella. She affected to be overcome by the
beauty of the Conference garden slope with its houses and terraces
behind him, but he could see that she was not really looking at the
scene as a whole, but searching it restlessly for some particular
object or person.

She made conversational efforts, on the loveliness of the morning
and on the fact that birds were singing--"in July."

"But here it is not necessarily July," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"How stupid of me! Of course not."

"We seem to be in a fine May."

"It is probably very early," she said. "I forgot to wind my watch."

"Oddly enough we seem to be at about the same hours in our two
worlds," said Mr. Barnstaple. "My wrist-watch says seven."

"No," said Lady Stella, answering her own thoughts and with her eyes
on the distant gardens. "That is a Utopian girl. Have you met any
others--of our party--this morning?"

Mr. Barnstaple brought the canoe round so that he too could look at
the shore. From here they could see how perfectly the huge terraces
and avalanche walls and gullies mingled and interwove with the
projecting ribs and cliffs of the mountain masses behind. The shrub
tangles passed up into hanging pinewoods; the torrents and cascades
from the snow-field above were caught and distributed amidst the
emerald slopes and gardens of the Conference Park. The terraces that
retained the soil and held the whole design spread out on either
hand to a great distance and were continued up into the mountain
substance; they were built of a material that ranged through a wide
variety of colours from a deep red to a purple-veined white, and
they were diversified by great arches over torrents and rock
gullies, by huge round openings that spouted water and by cascades
of steps. The buildings of the place were distributed over these
terraces and over the grassy slopes they contained, singly or in
groups and clusters, buildings of purple and blue and white as light
and delicate as the Alpine flowers about them. For some moments Mr.
Barnstaple was held silent by this scene, and then he attended to
Lady Stella's question. "I met Mr. Rupert Catskill and the
two  chauffeurs," he said, "and I saw Father Amerton and
Lord Barralonga and M. Dupont in the distance. I've seen nothing
of Mr. Mush or Mr. Burleigh."

"Mr. Cecil won't be about for hours yet. He will lie in bed until
ten or eleven. He always takes a good rest in the morning when there
is any great mental exertion before him."

The lady hesitated and then asked: "I suppose you haven't seen Miss
Greeta Grey?"

"No," said Mr. Barnstaple. "I wasn't looking for our people. I was
just strolling about--and avoiding somebody."

"The censor of manners and costumes?"

"Yes.... That, in fact, is why I took to this canoe."

The lady reflected and decided on a confidence.

"I was running away from someone too."

"Not the preacher?"

"Miss Grey!"

Lady Stella apparently went off at a tangent. "This is going to be a
very difficult world to stay in. These people have very delicate
taste. We may easily offend them."

"They are intelligent enough to understand."

"Do people who understand necessarily forgive? I've always doubted
that proverb."

Mr. Barnstaple did not wish the conversation to drift away into
generalities, so he paddled and said nothing.

"You see Miss Grey used to play Phryne in a Revue."

"I seem to remember something about it. There was a fuss in the
newspapers."

"That perhaps gave her a bias."

Three long sweeps with the paddle.

"But this morning she came to me and told me that she was going to
wear complete Utopian costume."

"Meaning?"

"A little rouge and face powder. It doesn't suit her the least
little bit, Mr. Bastaple. It's a faux pas. It's indecent. But she's
running about the gardens--. She might meet anyone. It's lucky
Mr. Cecil isn't up. If she meets Father Amerton--! But it's best not
to think of that. You see, Mr. Bastaple, these Utopians and their
sun-brown bodies--and everything, are in the picture. They don't
embarrass me. But Miss Grey--. An earthly civilized woman taken
out of her clothes _looks_ taken out of her clothes. Peeled. A sort
of _bleached_ white. That nice woman who seems to hover round us,
Lychnis, when she advised me what to wear, never for one moment
suggested anything of the sort.... But, of course, I don't know
Miss Grey well enough to talk to her and besides, one never knows
how a woman of that sort is going to take a thing...."

Mr. Barnstaple stared shoreward. Nothing was to be seen of an
excessively visible Miss Greeta Grey. Then he had a conviction.
"Lychnis will take care of her," he said.

"I hope she will. Perhaps, if we stay out here for a time--"

"She will be looked after," said Mr. Barnstaple. "But I think Miss
Grey and Lord Barralonga's party generally are going to make trouble
for us. I wish they hadn't come through with us."

"Mr. Cecil thinks that," said Lady Stella.

"Naturally we shall all be thrown very much together and judged in a
lump."

"Naturally," Lady Stella echoed.

She said no more for a little while. But it was evident that she had
more to say. Mr. Barnstaple paddled slowly.

"Mr. Bastaple," she began presently.

Mr. Barnstaple's paddle became still.

"Mr. Bastaple--are you _afraid_?"

Mr. Barnstaple judged himself. "I have been too full of wonder to
be afraid."

Lady Stella decided to confess. "I _am_ afraid," she said. "I wasn't
at first. Everything seemed to go so easily and simply. But in the
night I woke up--horribly afraid."

"No," considered Mr. Barnstaple. "No. It hasn't taken me like
that--yet.... Perhaps it will."

Lady Stella leant forward and spoke confidentially, watching the
effect of her words on Mr. Barnstaple. "These Utopians--I thought
at first they were just simple, healthy human beings, artistic and
innocent. But they are not, Mr. Bastaple. There is something hard
and complicated about them, something that goes beyond us and that
we don't understand. And they don't care for us. They look at us
with heartless eyes. Lychnis is kind, but hardly any of the others
are the least bit kind. And I think they find us inconvenient."

Mr. Barnstaple thought it over. "Perhaps they do. I have been so
preoccupied with admiration--so much of this is fine beyond
dreaming--that I have not thought very much how we affected them.
But--yes--they seem to be busy about other things and not very
attentive to us. Except the ones who have evidently been assigned to
watch and study us. And Lord Barralonga's headlong rush through
the country must certainly have been inconvenient."

"He killed a man."

"I know."

They remained thoughtfully silent for some moments.

"And there are other things," Lady Stella resumed. "They think quite
differently from our way of thinking. I believe they despise us
already. I noted something.... Last evening you were not with us
by the lake when Mr. Cecil asked them about their philosophy. He
told them things about Hegel and Bergson and Lord Haldane and his
own wonderful scepticism. He opened out--unusually. It was very
interesting--to me. But I was watching Urthred and Lion and in the
midst of it I saw--I am convinced--they were talking to each other
in that silent way they have, about something quite different.
They were just _shamming_ attention. And when Freddy Mush tried to
interest them in Neo-Georgian poetry and the effect of the war upon
literature, and how he hoped that they had something _half_ as
beautiful as the Iliad in Utopia, though he confessed he couldn't
believe they had, they didn't even pretend to listen. They did not
answer him at all.... Our minds don't matter a bit to them."

"In these subjects. They are three thousand years further on. But we
might be interesting as learners."

"Would it have been interesting to have taken a Hottentot about
London explaining things to him--after one had got over the first
fun of showing off his ignorance? Perhaps it would. But I don't
think they want us here very much and I don't think they are going
to like us very much, and I don't know what they are likely to do
to us if we give too much trouble. And so I am afraid."

She broke out in a new place. "In the night I was reminded of my
sister Mrs. Kelling's monkeys.

"It's a mania with her. They run about the gardens and come into
the house and the poor things are always in trouble. They don't
quite know what they may do and what they may not do; they all look
frightfully worried and they get slapped and carried to the door and
thrown out and all sorts of things like that. They spoil things and
make her guests uneasy. You never seem to know what a monkey's going
to do. And everybody hates to have them about except my sister. And
she keeps on scolding them. 'Come _down_, Jacko! Put that _down_,
Sadie'!"

Mr. Barnstaple laughed. "It isn't going to be quite so bad as that
with us, Lady Stella. We are not monkeys."

She laughed too. "Perhaps it isn't. But all the same--in the night--I
felt it might be. We are inferior creatures, One has to admit it...."

She knitted her brows. Her pretty face expressed great intellectual
effort. "Do you realize how we are cut off?... Perhaps you will
think it silly of me, Mr. Bastaple, but last night before I went to
bed I sat down to write my sister a letter and tell her all about
things while they were fresh in my mind. And suddenly realized I
might as well write--to Julius Caesar."

Mr. Barnstaple hadn't thought of that.

"That's a thing I can't get out of my head, Mr. Bastaple--no
letters, no telegrams, no newspapers, no Bradshaw in Utopia. All the
things we care for really-- All the people we live for. Cut off!
I don't know for how long. But completely cut off.... How long are
they likely to keep us here?"

Mr. Barnstaple's face became speculative.

"Are you _sure_ they can ever send us back?" the lady asked.

"There seems to be some doubt. But they are astonishingly clever
people."

"It seemed so easy coming here--just as if one walked round a
corner--but, of course, properly speaking we are out of space and
time.... More out of it even than dead people.... The North Pole or
Central Africa is a whole universe nearer home than we are.... It's
hard to grasp that. In this sunlight it all seems so bright and
familiar.... Yet last night there were moments when I wanted to
scream...."

She stopped short and scanned the shore. Then very deliberately she
sniffed.

Mr. Barnstaple became aware of a peculiarly sharp and appetizing
smell drifting across the water to him.

"Yes," he said.

"It's breakfast bacon!" cried Lady Stella with a squeak in her
voice.

"Exactly as Mr. Burleigh told them," said Mr. Barnstaple
mechanically turning the canoe shoreward.

"Breakfast bacon! That's the most reassuring thing that has happened
yet.... Perhaps after all it was silly to feel frightened. And there
they are signalling to us!" She waved her arm.

"Greeta in a white robe--as you prophesied--and Mr. Mush in a sort
of toga talking to her.... Where could he have got that toga?"

A faint sound of voices calling reached them.

"Com--_ing_!" cried Lady Stella.

"I hope I haven't been pessimistic," said Lady Stella. "But I felt
_horrid_ in the night."



BOOK THE SECOND

QUARANTINE CRAG


CHAPTER THE FIRST

THE EPIDEMIC


Section 1

The shadow of the great epidemic in Utopia fell upon our little band
of Earthlings in the second day after their irruption. For more than
twenty centuries the Utopians had had the completest freedom from
infectious and contagious disease of all sorts. Not only had the
graver epidemic fevers and all sorts of skin diseases gone out of
the lives of animals and men, but all the minor infections of colds,
coughs, influenzas and the like had also been mastered and ended. By
isolation, by the control of carriers, and so forth, the fatal germs
had been cornered and obliged to die out.

And there had followed a corresponding change in the Utopian
physiology. Secretions and reactions that had given the body
resisting power to infection had diminished; the energy that
produced them had been withdrawn to other more serviceable
applications. The Utopian physiology, relieved of these merely
defensive necessities, had simplified itself and become more direct
and efficient. This cleaning up of infections was such ancient
history in Utopia that only those who specialized in the history of
pathology understood anything of the miseries mankind had suffered
under from this source, and even these specialists do not seem to
have had any idea of how far the race had lost its former resistance
to infection. The first person to think of this lost resisting power
seems to have been Mr. Rupert Catskill. Mr. Barnstaple recalled that
when they had met early on the first morning of their stay in the
Conference Gardens, he had been hinting that Nature was in some
unexplained way on the side of the Earthlings.

If making them obnoxious was being on their side then certainly
Nature was on their side. By the evening of the second day after
their arrival nearly everybody who had been in contact with the
Earthlings, with the exception of Lychnis, Serpentine and three
or four others who had retained something of their ancestral
antitoxins, was in a fever with cough, sore throat, aching bones,
headache and such physical depression and misery as Utopia had
not known for twenty centuries. The first inhabitant of Utopia to
die was that leopard which had sniffed at Mr. Rupert Catskill on
his first arrival. It was found unaccountably dead on the second
morning after that encounter. In the afternoon of the same day
one of the girls who had helped Lady Stella to unpack her bags
sickened suddenly and died....

Utopia was even less prepared for the coming of these disease
germs than for the coming of the Earthlings who brought them. The
monstrous multitude of general and fever hospitals, doctors, drug
shops, and so forth that had existed in the Last Age of Confusion
had long since passed out of memory; there was a surgical service
for accidents and a watch kept upon the health of the young, and
there were places of rest at which those who were extremely old
were assisted, but there remained scarcely anything of the hygienic
organization that had formerly struggled against disease. Abruptly
the Utopian intelligence had to take up again a tangle of problems
long since solved and set aside, to improvise forgotten apparatus
and organizations for disinfection and treatment, and to return to
all the disciplines of the war against diseases that had marked an
epoch in its history twenty centuries before. In one respect indeed
that war had left Utopia with certain permanent advantages. Nearly
all the insect disease carriers had been exterminated, and rats and
mice and the untidier sorts of small bird had passed out of the
problem of sanitation. That set very definite limits to the spread
of the new infections and to the nature of the infections that
could be spread. It enabled the Earthlings only to communicate such
ailments as could be breathed across an interval, or conveyed by a
contaminating touch. Though not one of them was ailing at all, it
became clear that some one among them had brought latent measles
into the Utopian universe, and that three or four of them had
liberated a long suppressed influenza. Themselves too tough to
suffer, they remained at the focus of these two epidemics, while
their victims coughed and sneezed and kissed and whispered them
about the Utopian planet. It was not until the afternoon of the
second day after the irruption that Utopia realized what had
happened, and set itself to deal with this relapse into barbaric
solicitudes.


Section 2

Mr. Barnstaple was probably the last of the Earthlings to hear of
the epidemic. He was away from the rest of the party upon an
expedition of his own.

It was early clear to him that the Utopians did not intend to devote
any considerable amount of time or energy to the edification of
their Earthling visitors. After the eclaircissement of the afternoon
of the irruption there were no further attempts to lecture to the
visitors upon the constitution and methods of Utopia and only some
very brief questioning upon the earthly state of affairs. The
Earthlings were left very much together to talk things out among
themselves. Several Utopians were evidently entrusted with their
comfort and well-being, but they did not seem to think that their
functions extended to edification. Mr. Barnstaple found much to
irritate him in the ideas and comments of several of his associates,
and so he obeyed his natural inclination to explore Utopia for
himself. There was something that stirred his imagination in the
vast plain below the lake that he had glimpsed before his aeroplane
descended into the valley of the Conference, and on his second
morning he had taken a little boat and rowed out across the lake to
examine the dam that retained its waters and to get a view of the
great plain from the parapet of the dam.

The lake was much wider than he had thought it and the dam much
larger. The water was crystalline clear and very cold, and there
were but few fish in it. He had come out immediately after his
breakfast, but it was near midday before he had got to the parapet
of the great dam and could look down the lower valley to the great
plain.

The dam was built of huge blocks of red and gold-veined rock, but
steps at intervals gave access to the roadway along its crest. The
great seated figures which brooded over the distant plain had been
put there, it would seem, in a mood of artistic light-heartedness.
They sat as if they watched or thought, vast rude shapes, half
mountainous, half human. Mr. Barnstaple guessed them to be perhaps
two hundred feet high; by pacing the distance between two of
them and afterwards counting the number of them, he came to the
conclusion that the dam was between seven and ten miles long. On the
far side it dropped sheerly for perhaps five hundred feet, and it
was sustained by a series of enormous buttresses that passed almost
insensibly into native rock. In the bays between these buttresses
hummed great batteries of water turbines, and then, its first task
done, the water dropped foaming and dishevelled and gathered in
another broad lake retained by a second great dam two miles or so
away and perhaps a thousand feet lower. Far away was a third
lake and a third dam and then the plain. Only three or four
minute-looking Utopians were visible amidst all this Titanic
engineering.

Mr. Barnstaple stood, the smallest of objects, in the shadow of a
brooding Colossus, and peered over these nearer things at the hazy
levels of the plain beyond.

What sort of life was going on there? The relationship of plain to
mountain reminded him very strongly of the Alps and the great plain
of Northern Italy, down into which he had walked as the climax of
many a summer holiday in his youth. In Italy he knew that those
distant levels would be covered with clustering towns and villages
and carefully irrigated and closely cultivated fields. A dense
population would be toiling with an ant-like industry in the
production of food; for ever increasing its numbers until those
inevitable consequences of overcrowding, disease and pestilence,
established a sort of balance between the area of the land and the
number of families scraping at it for nourishment. As a toiling man
can grow more food than he can actually eat, and as virtuous women
can bear more children than the land can possibly employ, a surplus
of landless population would be gathered in wen-like towns and
cities, engaged there in legal and financial operations against the
agriculturalist or in the manufacture of just plausible articles for
sale.

Ninety-nine out of every hundred of this population would be
concentrated from childhood to old age upon the difficult task which
is known as "getting a living." Amidst it, sustained by a pretence
of magical propitiations, would rise shrines and temples, supporting
a parasitic host of priests and monks and nuns. Eating and breeding,
the simple routines of the common life since human societies began,
complications of food-getting, elaborations of acquisitiveness and a
tribute paid to fear; such would be the spectacle that any warm and
fertile stretch of earth would still display. There would be gleams
of laughter and humour there, brief interludes of holiday, flashes
of youth before its extinction in adult toil; but a driven labour,
the spite and hates of overcrowding, the eternal uncertainty of
destitution, would dominate the scene. Decrepitude would come by
sixty; women would be old and worn out by forty. But this Utopian
plain below, sunlit and fertile though it was, was under another
law. Here that common life of mankind, its ancient traditions, its
hoary jests and tales repeated generation after generation, its
seasonal festivals, its pious fears and spasmodic indulgences,
its limited yet incessant and pitifully childish hoping, and its
abounding misery and tragic futility, had come to an end. It had
passed for ever out of this older world. That high tide of common
living had receded and vanished while the soil was still productive
and the sun still shone.

It was with something like awe that Mr. Barnstaple realized how
clean a sweep had been made of the common life in a mere score of
centuries, how boldly and dreadfully the mind of man had taken hold,
soul and body and destiny, of the life and destiny of the race. He
knew himself now for the creature of transition he was, so deep in
the habits of the old, so sympathetic with the idea of the new that
has still but scarcely dawned on earth. For long he had known how
intensely he loathed and despised that reeking peasant life which
is our past; he realized now for the first time how profoundly he
feared the high austere Utopian life which lies before us. This
world he looked out upon seemed very clean and dreadful to him.
What were they doing upon those distant plains? What daily life did
they lead there?

He knew enough of Utopia now to know that the whole land would be
like a garden, with every natural tendency to beauty seized upon and
developed and every innate ugliness corrected and overcome. These
people could work and struggle for loveliness, he knew, for his two
rose growers had taught him as much. And to and fro the food folk
and the housing people and those who ordered the general life went,
keeping the economic machine running so smoothly that one heard
nothing of the jangling and jarring and internal breakages that
constitute the dominant melody in our earth's affairs. The ages of
economic disputes and experiments had come to an end; the right way
to do things had been found. And the population of this Utopia,
which had shrunken at one time to only two hundred million, was now
increasing again to keep pace with the constant increase in human
resources. Having freed itself from a thousand evils that would
otherwise have grown with its growth, the race could grow indeed.

And down there under the blue haze of the great plain almost all
those who were not engaged in the affairs of food and architecture,
health, education and the correlation of activities, were busied
upon creative work; they were continually exploring the world
without or the world within, through scientific research and
artistic creation. They were continually adding to their collective
power over life or to the realized worth of life.

Mr. Barnstaple was accustomed to think of our own world as a wild
rush of inventions and knowledge, but all the progress of earth for
a hundred years could not compare, he knew, with the forward swing
of these millions of associated intelligences in one single year.
Knowledge swept forward here and darkness passed as the shadow of
a cloud passes on a windy day. Down there they were assaying the
minerals that lie in the heart of their planet, and weaving a web to
capture the sun and the stars. Life marched here; it was terrifying
to think with what strides. Terrifying--because at the back of
Mr. Barnstaple's mind, as at the back of so many intelligent minds in
our world still, had been the persuasion that presently everything
would be known and the scientific process come to an end. And then
we should be happy for ever after.

He was not really acclimatized to progress. He had always thought
of Utopia as a tranquillity with everything settled for good. Even
to-day it seemed tranquil under that level haze, but he knew that
this quiet was the steadiness of a mill race, which seems almost
motionless in its quiet onrush until a bubble or a fleck of foam
or some stick or leaf shoots along it and reveals its velocity.

And how did it feel to be living in Utopia? The lives of the people
must be like the lives of very successful artists or scientific
workers in this world, a continual refreshing discovery of new
things, a constant adventure into the unknown and untried. For
recreation they went about their planet, and there was much love
and laughter and friendship in Utopia and an abundant easy informal
social life. Games that did not involve bodily exercise, those
substitutes of the half-witted for research and mental effort, had
gone entirely out of life, but many active games were played for the
sake of fun and bodily vigour.... It must be a good life for those
who had been educated to live it, indeed a most enviable life.

And pervading it all must be the happy sense that it mattered; it
went on to endless consequences. And they loved no doubt--subtly and
deliciously--but perhaps a little hardly. Perhaps in those distant
plains there was not much pity nor tenderness. Bright and lovely
beings they were--in no way pitiful. There would be no need for
those qualities....

Yet the woman Lychnis looked kind....

Did they keep faith or need to keep faith as earthly lovers do? What
was love like in Utopia? Lovers still whispered in the dusk.... What
was the essence of love? A preference, a sweet pride, a delightful
gift won, the most exquisite reassurance of body and mind.

What could it be like to love and be loved by one of these Utopian
women?--to have her glowing face close to one's own--to be quickened
into life by her kiss?...

Mr. Barnstaple sat in his flannels, bare-footed, in the shadow of
a stone Colossus. He felt like some minute stray insect perched
upon the big dam. It seemed to him that it was impossible that
this triumphant Utopian race could ever fall back again from its
magnificent attack upon the dominion of all things. High and
tremendously this world had clambered and was still clambering.
Surely it was safe now in its attainment. Yet all this stupendous
security and mastery of nature had come about in the little space
of three thousand years....

The race could not have altered fundamentally in that brief
interval. Essentially it was still a stone-age race, it was not
twenty thousand years away from the days when it knew nothing of
metals and could not read nor write. Deep in its nature, arrested
and undeveloped, there still lay the seeds of anger and fear and
dissension. There must still be many uneasy and insubordinate
spirits in this Utopia. Eugenics had scarcely begun here. He
remembered the keen sweet face of the young girl who had spoken
to him in the starlight on the night of his arrival, and the note
of romantic eagerness in her voice when she had asked if Lord
Barralonga was not a very vigorous and cruel man.

Did the romantic spirit still trouble imaginations here? Possibly
only adolescent imaginations.

Might not some great shock or some phase of confusion still be
possible to this immense order? Might not its system of education
become wearied by its task of discipline and fall a prey to the
experimental spirit? Might not the unforeseen be still lying in wait
for this race? Suppose there should prove to be an infection in
Father Amerton's religious fervour or Rupert Catskill's incurable
craving for fantastic enterprises!

No! It was inconceivable. The achievement of this world was too
calmly great and assured.

Mr. Barnstaple stood up and made his way down the steps of the great
dam to where, far below, his little skiff floated like a minute
flower-petal upon the clear water.


Section 3

He became aware of a considerable commotion in the Conference
places.

There were more than thirty aeroplanes circling in the air and
descending and ascending from the park, and a great number of big
white vehicles were coming and going by the pass road. Also people
seemed to be moving briskly among the houses, but it was too far off
to distinguish what they were doing. He stared for a time and then
got into his little boat.

He could not watch what was going on as he returned across the lake
because his back was towards the slopes, but once an aeroplane came
down very close to him, and he saw its occupant looking at him as he
rowed. And once when he rested from rowing and sat round to look he
saw what he thought was a litter carried by two men.

As he drew near the shore a boat put off to meet him. He was
astonished to see that its occupants were wearing what looked like
helmets of glass with white pointed visors. He was enormously
astonished and puzzled.

As they approached their message resonated into his mind.
"Quarantine. You have to go into quarantine. You Earthlings have
started an epidemic and it is necessary to put you into quarantine."

Then these glass helmets must be a sort of gas-mask!

When they came alongside him he saw that this was so. They were made
of highly flexible and perfectly translucent material....


Section 4

Mr. Barnstaple was taken past some sleeping loggias where Utopians
were lying in beds, while others who wore gas-masks waited upon
them. He found that all the Earthlings and all their possessions,
except their cars, were assembled in the hall of the first day's
Conference. He was told that the whole party were to be removed to
a new place where they could be isolated and treated.

The only Utopians with the party were two who wore gas-masks and
lounged in the open portico in attitudes disagreeably suggestive of
sentries or custodians.

The Earthlings sat about in little groups among the seats, except
for Mr. Rupert Catskill, who was walking up and down in the apse
talking. He was hatless, flushed and excited, with his hair in some
disorder.

"It's what I foresaw would happen all along," he repeated. "Didn't I
tell you Nature was on our side? Didn't I say it?"

Mr. Burleigh was shocked and argumentative. "For the life of me I
can't see the logic of it," he declared. "Here are we--absolutely the
only perfectly immune people here--and we--_we_ are to be isolated."

"They say they catch things from us," said Lady Stella.

"Very well," said Mr. Burleigh, making his point with his long white
hand. "Very well, then let _them_ be isolated! This is--Chinese; this
is topsy-turvy. I'm disappointed in them."

"I suppose it's their world," said Mr. Hunker, "and we've got to do
things their way."

Mr. Catskill concentrated upon Lord Barralonga and the two
chauffeurs. "I welcome this treatment. I welcome it."

"What's your idea, Rupert?" said his lordship. "We lose our freedom
of action."

"Not at all," said Mr. Catskill. "Not at all. We gain it. We are to
be isolated. We are to be put by ourselves in some island or
mountain. Well and good. Well and good. This is only the beginning
of our adventures. We shall see what we shall see."

"But how?"

"Wait a little. Until we can speak more freely.... These are panic
measures. This pestilence is only in its opening stage. Everything
is just beginning. Trust me."

Mr. Barnstaple sat sulkily by his valise, avoiding the challenge of
Mr. Catskill's eye.



CHAPTER THE SECOND

THE CASTLE ON THE CRAG


Section 1

The quarantine place to which the Earthlings were taken must have
been at a very considerable distance from the place of the
Conference, because they were nearly six hours upon their journey,
and all the time they were flying high and very swiftly. They were
all together in one flying ship; it was roomy and comfortable and
could have held perhaps four times as many passengers. They were
accompanied by about thirty Utopians in gas-masks, among whom were
two women. The aviators wore dresses of a white fleecy substance
that aroused the interest and envy of both Miss Grey and Lady
Stella. The flying ship passed down the valley and over the great
plain and across a narrow sea and another land with a rocky coast
and dense forests, and across a great space of empty sea. There was
scarcely any shipping to be seen upon this sea at all; it seemed to
Mr. Barnstaple that no earthly ocean would be so untravelled; only
once or twice did he see very big drifting vessels quite unlike any
earthly ships, huge rafts or platforms they seemed to be rather
than ships, and once or twice he saw what was evidently a cargo
boat--one with rigged masts and sails. And the air was hardly
more frequented. After he was out of sight of land he saw only
three aeroplanes until the final landfall.

They crossed a rather thickly inhabited, very delightful-looking
coastal belt and came over what was evidently a rainless desert
country, given over to mining and to vast engineering operations.
Far away were very high snowy mountains, but the aeroplane descended
before it came to these. For a time the Earthlings were flying over
enormous heaps of slaggy accumulations, great mountains of them,
that seemed to be derived from a huge well-like excavation that
went down into the earth to an unknown depth. A tremendous thunder
of machinery came out of this pit and much smoke. Here there were
crowds of workers and they seemed to be living in camps among the
debris. Evidently the workers came to this place merely for spells
of work; there were no signs of homes. The aeroplane of the
Earthlings skirted this region and flew on over a rocky and almost
treeless desert deeply cut by steep gorges of the canyon type. Few
people were to be seen, but there were abundant signs of engineering
activity. Every torrent, every cataract was working a turbine, and
great cables followed the cliffs of the gorges and were carried
across the desert spaces. In the wider places of the gorges there
were pine woods and a fairly abundant vegetation.

The high crag which was their destination stood out, an almost
completely isolated headland, in the fork between two convergent
canyons. It towered up to a height of perhaps two thousand feet
above the foaming clash of the torrents below, a great mass of pale
greenish and purple rocks, jagged and buttressed and cleft deeply
by joint planes and white crystalline veins. The gorge on one side
of it was much steeper than that on the other, it was so overhung
indeed as to be darkened like a tunnel, and here within a hundred
feet or so of the brow a slender metallic bridge had been flung
across the gulf. Some yards above it were projections that might
have been the remains of an earlier bridge of stone. Behind, the
crag fell steeply for some hundreds of feet to a long slope covered
with a sparse vegetation which rose again to the main masses of the
mountain, a wall of cliffs with a level top.

It was on this slope that the aeroplane came down alongside of three
or four smaller machines. The crag was surmounted by the tall ruins
of an ancient castle, within the circle of whose walls clustered a
number of buildings which had recently harboured a group of chemical
students. Their researches, which had been upon some question of
atomic structure quite incomprehensible to Mr. Barnstaple, were
finished now and the place had become vacant. Their laboratory was
still stocked with apparatus and material; and water and power
were supplied to it from higher up the gorge by means of pipes and
cables. There was also an abundant store of provisions. A number
of Utopians were busily adapting the place to its new purpose of
isolation and disinfection when the Earthlings arrived.

Serpentine appeared in the company of a man in a gas-mask whose name
was Cedar. This Cedar was a cytologist, and he was in charge of the
arrangements for this improvised sanatorium.

Serpentine explained that he himself had flown to the crag in
advance, because he understood the equipment of the place and the
research that had been going on there, and because his knowledge of
the Earthlings and his comparative immunity to their infections made
him able to act as an intermediary between them and the medical men
who would now take charge of their case. He made these explanations
to Mr. Burleigh, Mr. Barnstaple, Lord Barralonga and Mr. Hunker. The
other Earthlings stood about in small groups beside the aeroplane
from which they had alighted, regarding the castellated summit of
the crag, the scrubby bushes of the bleak upland about them and the
towering cliffs of the adjacent canyons with no very favourable
expressions.

Mr. Catskill had gone apart nearly to the edge of the great canyon,
and was standing with his hands behind his back in an attitude
almost Napoleonic, lost in thought, gazing down into those sunless
depths. The roar of the unseen waters below, now loud, now nearly
inaudible, quivered in the air.

Miss Greeta Grey had suddenly produced a Kodak camera; she had been
reminded of its existence when packing for this last journey, and
she was taking a snapshot of the entire party.

Cedar said that he would explain the method of treatment he proposed
to follow, and Lord Barralonga called "Rupert!" to bring Mr.
Catskill into the group of Cedar's hearers.

Cedar was as explicit and concise as Urthred had been. It was
evident, he said, that the Earthlings were the hosts of a variety
of infectious organisms which were kept in check in their bodies
by immunizing counter substances, but against which the Utopians
had no defences ready and could hope to secure immunity only after
a painful and disastrous epidemic. The only way to prevent this
epidemic devastating their whole planet indeed, was firstly to
gather together and cure all the cases affected, which was being
done by converting the Conference Park into a big hospital, and
next to take the Earthlings in hand and isolate them absolutely
from the Utopians until they could be cleaned of their infections.
It was, he confessed, an inhospitable thing to do to the Earthlings,
but it seemed the only possible thing to do, to bring them into this
peculiarly high and dry desert air and there to devise methods for
their complete physical cleansing. If that was possible it would be
done, and then the Earthlings would again be free to go and come as
they pleased in Utopia.

"But suppose it is not possible?" said Mr. Catskill abruptly.

"I think it will be."

"But if you fail?"

Cedar smiled at Serpentine. "Physical research is taking up the work
in which Arden and Greenlake were foremost, and it will not be long
before we are able to repeat their experiment. And then to reverse
it."

"With us as your raw material?"

"Not until we are fairly sure of a safe landing for you."

"You mean," said Mr. Mush, who had joined the circle about Cedar
and Serpentine, "that you are going to send us back?"

"If we cannot keep you," said Cedar, smiling.

"Delightful prospect!" said Mr. Mush unpleasantly. "To be shot
across space in a gun. Experimentally."

"And may I ask," came the voice of Father Amerton, "may I ask the
nature of this _treatment_ of yours, these experiments of which we are
to be the--guinea pigs, so to speak. Is it to be anything in the
nature of vaccination?"

"Injections," explained Mr. Barnstaple.

"I have hardly decided yet," said Cedar. "The problem raises
questions this world has forgotten for ages."

"I may say at once that I am a confirmed anti-vaccinationist," said
Father Amerton. "Absolutely. Vaccination is an outrage on nature. If
I had any doubts before I came into this world of--of _vitiation_, I
have no doubts now. Not a doubt! If God had meant us to have these
serums and ferments in our bodies he would have provided more
natural and dignified means of getting them there than a squirt."

Cedar did not discuss the point. He went on to further apologies.
For a time he must ask the Earthlings to keep within certain
limits, to confine themselves to the crag and the slopes below it as
far as the mountain cliffs. And further, it was impossible to set
young people to attend to them as had hitherto been done. They must
cook for themselves and see to themselves generally. The appliances
were all to be found above upon the crest of the crag and he and
Serpentine would make any explanations that were needful. They would
find there was ample provision for them.

"Then are we to be left alone here?" asked M. Catskill.

"For a time. When we have our problem clearer we will come again and
tell you what we mean to do."

"Good," said Mr. Catskill. "Good."

"I wish I hadn't sent my maid by train," said Lady Stella.

"I have come to my last clean collar," said M. Dupont with a little
humorous grimace. "It is no joke this week-end with Lord
Barralonga."

Lord Barralonga turned suddenly to his particular minion. "I believe
that Ridley has the makings of a very good cook."

"I don't mind trying my hand," said Ridley. "I've done most
things--and once I used to look after a steam car."

"A man who can keep one of those--those things in order can do
anything," said Mr. Penk with unusual emotion. "I've no objection
to being a temporary general utility along of Mr. Ridley. I began
my career in the pantry and I ain't ashamed to own it."

"If this gentleman will show us the gadgets," said Mr. Ridley,
indicating Serpentine.

"Exactly," said Mr. Penk.

"And if all of us give as little trouble as possible," said Miss
Greeta bravely.

"I think we shall be able to manage," said Mr. Burleigh to Cedar.
"If at first you can spare us a little advice and help."


Section 2

Cedar and Serpentine remained with the Earthlings upon Quarantine
Crag until late in the afternoon. They helped to prepare a supper
and set it out in the courtyard of the castle. They departed with a
promise to return on the morrow, and the Earthlings watched them and
their accompanying aeroplanes soar up into the sky.

Mr. Barnstaple was surprised to find himself distressed at their
going. He had a feeling that mischief was brewing amongst his
companions and that the withdrawal of these Utopians removed a check
upon this mischief. He had helped Lady Stella in the preparation of
an omelette; he had to carry back a dish and a frying-pan to the
kitchen after it was served, so that he was the last to seat himself
at the supper-table. He found the mischief he dreaded well afoot.

Mr. Catskill had finished his supper already and was standing with
his foot upon a bench orating to the rest of the company.

"I ask you, Ladies and Gentlemen," Mr. Catskill was saying; "I ask
you: Is not Destiny writ large upon this day's adventure? Not for
nothing was this place a fortress in ancient times. Here it is ready
to be a fortress again. M'm--a fortress.... In such an adventure as
will make the stories of Cortez and Pizarro pale their ineffectual
fires!"

"My dear Rupert!" cried Mr. Burleigh. "What have you got in that
head of yours now?"

Mr. Catskill waved two fingers dramatically. "The conquest of a
world!"

"Good God!" cried Mr. Barnstaple. "Are you mad?"

"As Clive," said Mr. Catskill, "or Sultan Baber when he marched to
Panipat."

"It's a tall proposition," said Mr. Hunker, who seemed to have had
his mind already prepared for these suggestions, "but I'm inclined
to give it a hearing. The alternative so far as I can figure it out
is to be scoured and whitewashed inside and out and then fired back
into our own world--with a chance of hitting something hard on the
way. You tell them, Mr. Catskill."

"Tell them," said Lord Barralonga, who had also been prepared. "It's
a gamble, I admit. But there's situations when one has to gamble--or
be gambled with. I'm all for the active voice."

"It's a gamble--certainly," said Mr. Catskill. "But upon this narrow
peninsula, upon this square mile or so of territory, the fate, Sir,
of two universes awaits decision. This is no time for the faint
heart and the paralyzing touch of discretion. Plan swiftly--act
swiftly...."

"This is simply _thrilling_!" cried Miss Greeta Grey clasping her
hands about her knees and smiling radiantly at Mr. Mush.

"These people," Mr. Barnstaple interrupted, "are three thousand
years ahead of us. We are like a handful of Hottentots in a
showman's van at Earl's Court, planning the conquest of London."

Mr. Catskill, hands on hips, turned with extraordinary good humour
upon Mr. Barnstaple. "Three thousand years away from us--_yes_! Three
thousand years ahead of us--_no_! That is where you and I join issue.
You say these people are super-men. M'm--super-men.... I say they are
degenerate men. Let me call your attention to my reasons for this
belief--in spite of their beauty, their very considerable material
and intellectual achievements and so forth. Ideal people, I admit....
What then?... My case is that they have reached a summit--and
passed it, that they are going on by inertia and that they have
lost the power not only of resistance to disease--that weakness we
shall see develop more and more--but also of meeting strange and
distressing emergencies. They are gentle. Altogether too gentle.
They are ineffectual. They do not know what to do. Here is Father
Amerton. He disturbed that first meeting in the most insulting way.
(You know you did, Father Amerton. I'm not blaming you. You are
morally--sensitive. And there were things to outrage you.) He was
threatened--as a little boy is threatened by a feeble old woman.
Something was to be done to him. Has anything been done to him?"

"A man and a woman came and talked to me," said Father Amerton.

"And what did you do?"

"Simply confuted them. Lifted up my voice and confuted them."

"What did they say?"

"What _could_ they say?"

"We all thought tremendous things were going to be done to poor
Father Amerton. Well, and now take a graver case. Our friend Lord
Barralonga ran amuck with his car--and killed a man. M'm. Even at home
they'd have endorsed your licence you know. And fined your man. But
here?... The thing has scarcely been mentioned since. Why? Because
they don't know what to say about it or do about it. And now they
have put us here and begged us to be good. Until they are ready to
come and try experiments upon us and inject things into us and I
don't know what. And if we submit, Sir, if we submit, we lose one of
our greatest powers over these people, our power of at once giving
and resisting malaise, and in addition, I know not what powers of
initiative that may very well be associated with that physiological
toughness of which we are to be robbed. They may trifle with our
ductless glands. But science tells us that these very glands secrete
our personalities. Mentally, morally we shall be dissolved. If we
submit, Sir--if we submit. But suppose we do not submit; what then?"

"Well," said Lord Barralonga, "what then?"

"They will not know what to do. Do not be deceived by any outward
shows of beauty and prosperity. These people are living, as the
ancient Peruvians were living in the time of Pizarro, in an
enervating dream. They have drunken the debilitating draught of
Socialism and, as in ancient Peru, there is no health nor power of
will left in them any more. A handful of resolute men and women who
can dare--may not only dare but triumph in the face of such a world.
And thus it is I lay my plans before you."

"You mean to jump this entire Utopian planet?" said Mr. Hunker.

"Big order," said Lord Barralonga.

"I mean, Sir, to assert the rights of a more vigorous form of social
life over a less vigorous form of social life. Here we are--in a
fortress. It is a real fortress and quite defensible. While you
others have been unpacking, Barralonga and Hunker and I have been
seeing to that. There is a sheltered well so that if need arises we
can get water from the canyon below. The rock is excavated into
chambers and shelters; the wall on the land side is sound and high,
glazed so that it cannot be scaled. This great archway can easily be
barricaded when the need arises. Steps go down through the rock to
that little bridge which can if necessary be cut away. We have not
yet explored all the excavations. In Mr. Hunker we have a chemist--he
was a chemist before the movie picture claimed him as its master--and
he says there is ample material in the laboratory for a store
of bombs. This party, I find, can muster five revolvers with
ammunition. I scarcely dared hope for that. We have food for many
days."

"Oh! This is ridiculous!" cried Mr. Barnstaple standing up and then
sitting down again. "This is preposterous! To turn on these friendly
people! But they can blow this little headland to smithereens
whenever they want to."

"Ah!" said Mr. Catskill and held him with his outstretched finger.
"We've thought of that. But we can take a leaf from the book of
Cortez--who, in the very centre of Mexico, held Montezuma as his
prisoner and hostage. We too will have our hostage. Before we lift
a finger--. First our hostage...."

"Aerial bombs!"

"Is there such a thing in Utopia? Or such an idea? And again--we must
have our hostage."

"Somebody of importance," said Mr. Hunker.

"Cedar and Serpentine are both important people," said Mr. Burleigh
in tones of disinterested observation.

"But surely, Sir, you do not countenance this schoolboy's dream of
piracy!" cried Mr. Barnstaple, sincerely shocked.

"Schoolboys!" cried Father Amerton. "A cabinet minister, a peer and
a great entrepreneur!"

"My dear Sir," said Mr. Burleigh, "we are, after all, only
envisaging eventualities. For the life of me, I do not see why we
should not thresh out these possibilities. Though I pray to Heaven
we may never have to realize them. You were saying, Rupert--?"

"We have to establish ourselves here and assert our independence and
make ourselves _felt_ by these Utopians."

"'Ear, 'ear!" said Mr. Ridley cordially. "One or two I'd like to
make feel personally."

"We have to turn this prison into a capitol, into the first foothold
of mankind in this world. It is like a foot thrust into a reluctant
door that must never more close upon our race."

"It is closed," said Mr. Barnstaple. "Except by the mercy of these
Utopians we shall never see our world again. And even with their
mercy, it is doubtful."

"That's been keeping me awake nights," said Mr. Hunker.

"It's an idea that must have occurred to all of us," said Mr.
Burleigh.

"And it's an idea that's so thundering disagreeable that one hasn't
cared to talk about it," said Lord Barralonga.

"I never 'ad it until this moment," said Penk.
"You don't reely mean to say, Sir, _we can't get back_?"

"Things will be as they will be," said Mr. Burleigh. "That is why I
am anxious to hear Mr. Catskill's ideas."

Mr. Catskill rested his hands on his hips and his manner became very
solemn. "For once," he said, "I am in agreement with Mr. Barnaby. I
believe that the chances are _against_ our ever seeing the dear cities
of our world again."

"I felt that," said Lady Stella, with white lips. "I _knew_ that two
days ago."

"And so behold my week-end expand to an eternity!" said M. Dupont,
and for a time no one said another word.

"It's as if--" Penk said at last. "Why! One might be dead!"

"But I _murst_ be back," Miss Greeta Grey broke out abruptly, as one
who sets aside a foolish idea. "It's absurd. I have to go on at the
Alhambra on September the 2nd. It's imperative. We came here quite
easily; it's ridiculous to say I can't go back in the same way."

Lord Barralonga regarded her with affectionate malignity. "You
wait," he said.

"But I murst!" she sang.

"There's such things as impossibilities--even for Miss Greeta Grey."

"Charter a special aeroplane!" she said. "Anything."

He regarded her with an elfin grin and shook his head.

"My dear man," she said, "you've only seen me in a holiday mood, so
far. Work is serious."

"My dear girl, that Alhambra of yours is about as far from us now as
the Court of King Nebuchadnezzar.... It can't be done."

"But it _murst_," she said in her queenly way. "And that's all about
it."


Section 3

Mr. Barnstaple got up from the table and walked apart to where a gap
in the castle wall gave upon the darkling wilderness without. He sat
down there. His eyes went from the little group talking around the
supper table to the sunlit crest of the cliffs across the canyon and
to the wild and lonely mountain slopes below the headland. In this
world he might have to live out the remainder of his days.

And those days might not be very numerous if Mr. Catskill had his
way. Sydenham, and his wife and the boys were indeed as far--"as the
Court of King Nebuchadnezzar."

He had scarcely given his family a thought since he had posted his
letter at Victoria. Now he felt a queer twinge of desire to send
them some word or token--if only he could. Queer that they would
never hear from him or of him again! How would they get on without
him? Would there be any difficulty about the account at the bank? Or
about the insurance money? He had always intended to have a joint
and several account with his wife at the bank, and he had never
quite liked to do it. Joint and several.... A thing every man ought
to do.... His attention came back to Mr. Catskill unfolding his
plans.

"We have to make up our minds to what may be a prolonged, a very
prolonged stay here. Do not let us deceive ourselves upon that
score. It may last for years--it may last for generations."

Something struck Penk in that. "I don't 'ardly see," he said, "how
that can be--_generations_?"

"I am coming to that," said Mr. Catskill.

"Un'appily," said Mr. Penk, and became profoundly restrained and
thoughtful with his eyes on Lady Stella.

"We have to remain, a little alien community, in this world until we
dominate it, as the Romans dominated the Greeks, and until we master
its science and subdue it to our purpose. That may mean a long
struggle. It may mean a very long struggle indeed. And meanwhile we
must maintain ourselves as a community; we must consider ourselves
a colony, a garrison, until that day of reunion comes. We must hold
our hostages, Sir, and not only our hostages. It may be necessary
for our purpose, and if it is necessary for our purpose, so be it--to
get in others of these Utopians, to catch them young, before this
so-called education of theirs unfits them for our purpose, to train
them in the great traditions of our Empire and our race."

Mr. Hunker seemed on the point of saying something but refrained.

M. Dupont got up sharply from the table, walked four paces away,
returned and stood still, watching Mr. Catskill.

"Generations?" said Mr. Penk.

"Yes," said Mr. Catskill. "Generations. For here we are
strangers--strangers, like that other little band of adventurers
who established their citadel five-and-twenty centuries ago upon the
Capitol beside the rushing Tiber. This is our Capitol. A greater
Capitol--of a greater Rome--in a vaster world. And like that band of
Roman adventurers we too may have to reinforce our scanty numbers at
the expense of the Sabines about us, and take to ourselves servants
and helpers and--_mates_! No sacrifice is too great for the high
possibilities of this adventure."

M. Dupont seemed to nerve himself for the sacrifice.

"Duly married," injected Father Amerton.

"Duly married," said Mr. Catskill in parenthesis. "And so, Sir, we
will hold out here and maintain ourselves and dominate this desert
countryside and spread our prestige and our influence and our spirit
into the inert body of this decadent Utopian world. Until at last we
are able to master the secret that Arden and Greenlake were seeking
and recover the way back to our own people, opening to the crowded
millions of our Empire--"


Section 4

"Just a moment," said Mr. Hunker. "Just a moment! About this
empire--!"

"Exactly," said M. Dupont, recalled abruptly from some romantic
day-dream. "About your Empire--!"

Mr. Catskill regarded them thoughtfully and defensively. "When I say
Empire I mean it in the most general sense."

"Exactly," snapped M. Dupont.

"I was thinking generally of our--Atlantic civilization."

"Before, Sir, you go on to talk of Anglo-Saxon unity and the
English-speaking race," said M. Dupont, with a rising note of
bitterness in his voice, "permit me to remind you, Sir, of one very
important fact that you seem to be overlooking. The language of
Utopia, Sir, is French. I want to remind you of that. I want to
recall it to your mind. I will lay no stress here on the sacrifices
and martyrdoms that France has endured in the cause of Civilization--"

The voice of Mr. Burleigh interrupted. "A very natural misconception.
But, if you will pardon the correction, the language of Utopia is
_not_ French."

Of course, Mr. Barnstaple reflected, M. Dupont had not heard the
explanation of the language difficulty.

"Permit me, Sir, to believe the evidence of my own ears," the
Frenchman replied with dignified politeness. "These Utopians, I can
assure you, speak French and nothing but French--and very excellent
French it is."

"They speak no language at all," said Mr. Burleigh.

"Not even English?" sneered M. Dupont.

"Not even English."

"Not League of Nations, perhaps? But--Bah! Why do I argue? They speak
French. Not even a Bosch would deny it. It needs an Englishman--"

A beautiful wrangle, thought Mr. Barnstaple. There was no Utopian
present to undeceive M. Dupont and he stuck to his belief
magnificently. With a mixture of pity and derision and anger, Mr.
Barnstaple listened to this little band of lost human beings, in
the twilight of a vast, strange and possibly inimical world, growing
more and more fierce and keen in a dispute over the claims of their
three nations to "dominate" Utopia, claims based entirely upon
greeds and misconceptions. Their voices rose to shouts and sank to
passionate intensity as their life-long habits of national egotism
reasserted themselves. Mr. Hunker would hear nothing of any
"Empire"; M. Dupont would hear of nothing but the supreme claim of
France. Mr. Catskill twisted and turned. To Mr. Barnstaple this
conflict of patriotic prepossessions seemed like a dog-fight on a
sinking ship. But at last Mr. Catskill, persistent and ingenious,
made headway against his two antagonists.

He stood at the end of the table explaining that he had used the
word Empire loosely, apologizing for using it, explaining that when
he said Empire he had all Western Civilization in mind. "When I said
it," he said, turning to Mr. Hunker, "I meant a common brotherhood
of understanding." He faced towards M. Dupont. "I meant our tried
and imperishable Entente."

"There are at least no Russians here," said M. Dupont. "And no
Germans."

"True," said Lord Barralonga. "We start ahead of the Hun here, and
we can keep ahead."

"And I take it," said Mr. Hunker, "that Japanese are barred."

"No reason why we shouldn't start clean with a complete colour bar,"
reflected Lord Barralonga. "This seems to me a White Man's World."

"At the same time," said M. Dupont, coldly and insistently, "you
will forgive me if I ask you for some clearer definition of our
present relationship and for some guarantee, some effective
guarantee, that the immense sacrifices France has made and still
makes in the cause of civilized life, will receive their proper
recognition and their due reward in this adventure....

"I ask only for justice," said M. Dupont.


Section 5

Indignation made Mr. Barnstaple bold. He got down from his perch
upon the wall and came up to the table.

"Are you mad," he said, "or am I?

"This squabble over flags and countries and fanciful rights and
deserts--it is hopeless folly. Do you not realize even now the
position we are in?"

His breath failed him for a moment and then he resumed.

"Are you incapable of thinking of human affairs except in terms of
flags and fighting and conquest and robbery? Cannot you realize
the proportion of things and the quality of this world into which
we have fallen? As I have said already, we are like some band of
savages in a show at Earl's Court, plotting the subjugation of
London. We are like suppressed cannibals in the heart of a great
city dreaming of a revival of our ancient and forgotten filthiness.
What are our chances in this fantastic struggle?"

Mr. Ridley spoke reprovingly. "You're forgetting everythink you just
been told. Everythink. 'Arf their population is laid out with flu
and measles. And there's no such thing as a 'ealthy fighting will
left in all Utopia."

"Precisely," said Mr. Catskill.

"Well, suppose you have chances? If that makes your scheme the more
hopeful, it also makes it the more horrible. Here we are lifted
up out of the troubles of our time to a vision, to a reality of
civilization such as our own world can only hope to climb to in
scores of centuries! Here is a world at peace, splendid, happy,
full of wisdom and hope! If our puny strength and base cunning can
contrive it, we are to shatter it all! We are proposing to wreck a
world! I tell you it is not an adventure. It is a crime. It is an
abomination. I will have no part in it. I am against you in this
attempt."

Father Amerton would have spoken but Mr. Burleigh arrested him by a
gesture.

"What would _you_ have us do?" asked Mr. Burleigh.

"Submit to their science. Learn what we can from them. In a little
while we may be cured of our inherent poisons and we may be
permitted to return from this outlying desert of mines and turbines
and rock, to those gardens of habitation we have as yet scarcely
seen. There we too may learn something of civilization.... In the
end we may even go back to our own disordered world--with knowledge,
with hope and help, missionaries of a new order."

"But why--?" began Father Amerton.

Again Mr. Burleigh took the word. "Everything you say," he remarked,
"rests on unproven assumptions. You choose to see this Utopia through
rose-tinted glasses. We others--for it is"--he counted--"eleven to
one against you--see things without such favourable preconceptions."

"And may I ask, Sir," said Father Amerton, springing to his feet
and hitting the table a blow that set all the glasses talking. "May
I ask, who _you_ are, to set yourself up as a judge and censor of
the common opinion of mankind? For I tell you, Sir, that here in
this lonely and wicked and strange world, we here, we twelve, do
represent mankind. We are the advance guard, the pioneers--in the
new world that God has given us, even as He gave Canaan to Israel
His chosen, three thousand years ago. Who are _you_--"

"Exactly," said Penk. "Who are you?"

And Mr. Ridley reinforced him with a shout: "Oo the 'ell are _you_?"

Mr. Barnstaple had no platform skill to meet so direct an attack. He
stood helpless. Astonishingly Lady Stella came to his rescue.

"That isn't fair, Father Amerton," she said. "Mr. Bastaple,
whoever he is, has a perfect right to express his own opinion."

"And having expressed it," said Mr. Catskill, who had been walking
up and down on the other side of the table to that on which Mr.
Barnstaple stood, "M'm, having expressed it, to allow us to proceed
with the business in hand. I suppose it was inevitable that we
should find the conscientious objector in our midst--even in Utopia.
The rest of us, I take it, are very much of one mind about our
situation."

"We are," said Mr. Mush, regarding Mr. Barnstaple with a malevolent
expression.

"Very well. Then I suppose we must follow the precedents established
for such cases. We will not ask Mr.--Mr. Bastaple to share the
dangers--and the honours--of a combatant. We will ask him merely to do
civilian work of a helpful nature--"

Mr. Barnstaple held up his hand. "No," he said. "I am not disposed
to be helpful. I do not recognize the analogy of the situation to
the needs of the Great War, and, anyhow, I am entirely opposed to
this project--this brigandage of a civilization. You cannot call me a
conscientious objector to fighting, because I do not object to
fighting in a just cause. But this adventure of yours is not a just
cause.... I implore you, Mr. Burleigh, you who are not merely a
politician, but a man of culture and a philosopher, to reconsider
what it is we are being urged towards--towards acts of violence and
mischief from which there will be no drawing back!"

"Mr. Barnstaple," said Mr. Burleigh with grave dignity and something
like a note of reproach in his voice, "I _have_ considered. But I
think I may venture to say that I am a man of some experience, some
traditional experience, in human affairs. I may not altogether agree
with my friend Mr. Catskill. Nay! I will go further and say that in
many respects I do _not_ agree with him. If I were the autocrat here
I would say that we have to offer these Utopians resistance--for
our self-respect--but not to offer them the violent and aggressive
resistance that he contemplates. I think we could be far more
subtle, far more elaborate, and far more successful than Mr.
Catskill is likely to be. But that is my own opinion. Neither Mr.
Hunker nor Lord Barralonga, nor Mr. Mush, nor M. Dupont shares it.
Nor do Mr.--our friends, the ah!--technical engineers here share
it. And what I do perceive to be imperative upon our little band
of Earthlings, lost here in a strange universe, is unity of action.
Whatever else betide, dissension must not betray us. We must hold
together and act together as one body. Discuss if you will, when
there is any time for discussion, but in the end _decide_. And having
decided abide loyally by the decision. Upon the need of securing a
hostage or two I have no manner of doubt whatever. Mr. Catskill is
right."

Mr. Barnstaple was a bad debater. "But these Utopians are as human
as we are," he said. "All that is most sane and civilized in
ourselves is with them."

Mr. Ridley interrupted in a voice designedly rough. "Oh Lord!"
he said. "We can't go on jawing 'ere for ever. It's sunset, and
Mr.--this gentleman 'as 'ad 'is say, and more than 'is say. We
ought to have our places and know what is expected of us before
night. May I propose that we elect Mr. Catskill our Captain with
full military powers?"

"I second that," said Mr. Burleigh with grave humility.

"Perhaps M. Dupont," said Mr. Catskill, "will act with me as
associated Captain, representing our glorious ally, his own great
country."

"In the absence of a more worthy representative," acquiesced M.
Dupont, "and to see that French interests are duly respected."

"And if Mr. Hunker would act as my lieutenant?... Lord Barralonga
will be our quartermaster and Father Amerton our chaplain and censor.
Mr. Burleigh, it goes without saying, will be our civil head."

Mr. Hunker coughed. He frowned with the expression of one who makes
a difficult explanation. "I won't be exactly lieutenant," he
said. "I'll take no official position. I've a sort of distaste
for--foreign entanglements. I'll be a looker-on--who helps. But I
think you will find you can count on me, Gentlemen--when help is
needed."

Mr. Catskill seated himself at the head of the table and indicated
the chair next to his for M. Dupont. Miss Greeta Grey seated herself
on his other hand between him and Mr. Hunker. Mr. Burleigh remained
in his place, a chair or so from Mr. Hunker. The rest came and stood
round the Captain except Lady Stella and Mr. Barnstaple.

Almost ostentatiously Mr. Barnstaple turned his back on the new
command. Lady Stella, he saw, remained seated far down the table,
looking dubiously at the little crowd of people at the end. Then her
eyes went to the desolate mountain crest beyond.

She shivered violently and stood up. "It's going to be very cold
here after sunset," she said, with nobody heeding her. "I shall go
and unpack a wrap."

She walked slowly to her quarters and did not reappear.


Section 6

Mr. Barnstaple did not want to seem to listen to this Council of
War. He walked to the wall of the old castle and up a flight of
stone steps and along the rampart to the peak of the headland. Here
the shattering and beating sound of the waters in the two convergent
canyons was very loud.

There was still a bright upper rim of sunlit rock on the mountain
face behind, but all the rest of the world was now in a deepening
blue shadow, and a fleecy white mist was gathering in the canyons
below and hiding the noisy torrents. It drifted up almost to the
level of the little bridge that spanned the narrower canyon to a
railed stepway from the crest on the further side. For the first
time since he had arrived in Utopia Mr. Barnstaple felt a chill
in the air. And loneliness like a pain.

Up the broader of the two meeting canyons some sort of engineering
work was going on and periodic flashes lit the drifting mist. Far
away over the mountains a solitary aeroplane, very high, caught
the sun's rays ever and again and sent down quivering flashes of
dazzling golden light, and then, as it wheeled about, vanished again
in the deepening blue.

He looked down into the great courtyard of the ancient castle below
him. The modern buildings in the twilight looked like phantom
pavilions amidst the archaic masonry. Someone had brought a light,
and Captain Rupert Catskill, the new Cortez, was writing orders,
while his Commando stood about him.

The light shone on the face and shoulders and arms of Miss Greeta
Grey; she was peering over the Captain's arm to see what he was
writing. And as Mr. Barnstaple looked he saw her raise her hand
suddenly to conceal an involuntary yawn.



CHAPTER THE THIRD

MR. BARNSTAPLE AS A TRAITOR TO MANKIND


Section 1

Mr. Barnstaple spent a large part of the night sitting upon his
bed and brooding over the incalculable elements of the situation
in which he found himself.

What could he do? What ought he to do? Where did his loyalty lie?
The dark traditions and infections of the earth had turned this
wonderful encounter into an ugly and dangerous antagonism far too
swiftly for him to adjust his mind to the new situation. Before him
now only two possibilities seemed open. Either the Utopians would
prove themselves altogether the stronger and the wiser and he and
all his fellow pirates would be crushed and killed like vermin,
or the desperate ambitions of Mr. Catskill would be realized and
they would become a spreading sore in the fair body of this noble
civilization, a band of robbers and destroyers, dragging Utopia year
by year and age by age back to terrestrial conditions. There seemed
only one escape from the dilemma; to get away from this fastness to
the Utopians, to reveal the whole scheme of the Earthlings to them,
and to throw himself and his associates upon their mercy. But this
must be done soon, before the hostages were seized and bloodshed
began.

But in the first place it might be very difficult now to get away
from the Earthling band. Mr. Catskill would already have organized
watchers and sentinels, and the peculiar position of the crag
exposed every avenue of escape. And in the next place Mr. Barnstaple
had a life-long habit of mind which predisposed him against
tale-bearing and dissentient action. His school training had
moulded him into subservience to any group or gang in which he
found himself; his form, his side, his house, his school, his club,
his party and so forth. Yet his intelligence and his limitless
curiosities had always been opposed to these narrow conspiracies
against the world at large. His spirit had made him an uncomfortable
rebel throughout his whole earthly existence. He loathed political
parties and political leaders, he despised and rejected nationalism
and imperialism and all the tawdry loyalties associated with them;
the aggressive conqueror, the grabbing financier, the shoving
business man, he hated as he hated wasps, rats, hyenas, sharks,
fleas, nettles and the like: all his life he had been a citizen of
Utopia exiled upon earth. After his fashion he had sought to serve
Utopia. Why should he not serve Utopia now? Because his band was
a little and desperate band, that was no reason why he should
serve the things he hated. If they were a desperate crew, the fact
remained that they were also, as a whole, an evil crew. There is no
reason why liberalism should degenerate into a morbid passion for
minorities....

Only two persons among the Earthlings, Lady Stella and Mr. Burleigh,
held any of his sympathy. And he had his doubts about Mr. Burleigh.
Mr. Burleigh was one of those strange people who seem to understand
everything and feel nothing. He impressed Mr. Barnstaple as being
intelligently irresponsible. Wasn't that really more evil than being
unintelligently adventurous like Hunker or Barralonga?

Mr. Barnstaple's mind returned from a long excursion in ethics to
the realities about him. To-morrow he would survey the position and
make his plans, and perhaps in the twilight he would slip away.

It was entirely in his character to defer action in this way for
the better part of the day. His life had been one of deferred
action almost from the beginning.


Section 2

But events could not wait for Mr. Barnstaple.

He was called at dawn by Penk, who told him that henceforth the
garrison would be aroused every morning by an electric hooter he and
Ridley had contrived. As Penk spoke a devastating howl from this
contrivance inaugurated the new era. He handed Mr. Barnstaple a slip
of paper torn from a note-book on which Mr. Catskill had written:--

"Non-comb. Barnaby. To assist Ridley prepare breakfast, lunch and
dinner, times and menu on mess-room wall, clear away and wash up
smartly and at other times to be at disposal of Lt. Hunker, in
chemical laboratory for experimenting and bomb-making. Keep
laboratory clean."

"That's your job," said Penk. "Ridley's waitin' for you."

"Well," said Mr. Barnstaple, and got up. It was no use precipitating
a quarrel if he was to escape. So he went to the scarred and
bandaged Ridley, and they produced a very good imitation of a
British military kitchen in that great raw year, 1914.

Everyone was turned out to breakfast at half-past six by a second
solo on the hooter. The men were paraded and inspected by Mr.
Catskill, with M. Dupont standing beside him; Mr. Hunker stood
parallel with these two and a few yards away; all the other men fell
in except Mr. Burleigh, who was to be civil commander in Utopia, and
was, in that capacity, in bed, and Mr. Barnstaple the non-combatant.
Miss Greeta Grey and Lady Stella sat in a sunny corner of the
courtyard sewing at a flag. It was to be a blue flag with a white
star, a design sufficiently unlike any existing national flag to
avoid wounding the patriotic susceptibilities of any of the party.
It was to represent the Earthling League of Nations.

After the parade the little garrison dispersed to its various posts
and duties, M. Dupont assumed the chief command, and Mr. Catskill,
who had watched all night, went to lie down. He had the Napoleonic
quality of going off to sleep for an hour or so at any time in the
day.

Mr. Penk went up to the top of the castle, where the hooter was
installed, to keep a look out.

There were some moments to be snatched between the time when Mr.
Barnstaple had finished with Ridley and the time when Hunker would
discover his help was available, and this time he devoted to an
inspection of the castle wall on the side of the slopes. While he
was standing on the old rampart weighing his chances of slipping
away that evening in the twilight, an aeroplane appeared above the
crag and came down upon the nearer slope. Two Utopians descended,
talked with their aviator for a time, and then turned their faces
towards the fastness of the Earthlings.

A single note of the hooter brought out Mr. Catskill upon the
rampart beside Mr. Barnstaple. He produced a field-glass and
surveyed the approaching figures.

"Serpentine and Cedar," he said, lowering his field-glass. "And they
come alone. Good."

He turned round and signalled with his hand to Penk, who responded
with two short whoops of his instrument. This was the signal for a
general assembly.

Down below in the courtyard appeared the rest of the Allied force
and Mr. Hunker and fell in with a reasonable imitation of
discipline.

Mr. Catskill passed Mr. Barnstaple without taking any notice of
him, joined M. Dupont, Mr. Hunker and their subordinates below and
proceeded to instruct them in his plans for the forthcoming crisis.
Mr. Barnstaple could not hear what was said. He noted with sardonic
disapproval that each man, as Mr. Catskill finished with him,
clicked his heels together and saluted. Then at a word of command
they dispersed to their posts.

There was a partly ruined flight of steps leading down from the
general level of the courtyard through this great archway in the
wall that gave access to and from the slopes below. Ridley and Mush
went down to the right of these steps and placed themselves below
a projecting mass of masonry so as to be hidden from anyone
approaching from below. Father Amerton and Mr. Hunker concealed
themselves similarly to the left. Father Amerton, Mr. Barnstaple
noted, had been given a coil of rope, and then his roving eye
discovered Mr. Mush glancing at a pistol in his hand and then
replacing it in his pocket. Lord Barralonga took up a position for
himself some steps above Mr. Mush and produced a revolver which he
held in his one efficient hand. Mr. Catskill remained at the head
of the stairs. He also was holding a revolver. He turned to the
citadel, considered the case of Penk for a moment, and then
motioned him down to join the others. M. Dupont, armed with a
stout table leg, placed himself at Mr. Catskill's right hand.

For a time Mr. Barnstaple watched these dispositions without any
realization of their significance. Then his eyes went from the
crouching figures within the castle to the two unsuspecting
Utopians who were coming up towards them, and he realized that in
a couple of minutes Serpentine and Cedar would be struggling in
the grip of their captors....

He perceived he had to act. And his had been a contemplative,
critical life with no habit of decision.

He found himself trembling violently.


Section 3

He still desired some mediatory intervention even in these fatal
last moments. He raised an arm and cried "Hi!" as much to the
Earthlings below as to the Utopians without. No one noticed either
his gesture or his feeble cry.

Then his will seemed to break through a tangle of obstacles to one
simple idea. Serpentine and Cedar must not be seized. He was amazed
and indignant at his own vacillation. Of course they must not be
seized! This foolery must be thwarted forthwith. In four strides he
was on the wall above the archway and now he was shouting loud and
clear. "Danger!" he shouted. "Danger!" and again "Danger!"

He heard Catskill's cry of astonishment and then a pistol bullet
whipped through the air close to him.

Serpentine stopped short and looked up, touched Cedar's arm and
pointed.

"These Earthlings want to imprison you. Don't come here! Danger!"
yelled Mr. Barnstaple waving his arms and "pat, pat, pat," Mr.
Catskill experienced the disappointments of revolver shooting.

Serpentine and Cedar were turning back--but slowly and hesitatingly.

For a moment Mr. Catskill knew not what to do. Then he flung himself
down the steps, crying, "After them! Stop them! Come on!"

"Go back!" cried Mr. Barnstaple to the Utopians. "Go back! Quickly!
Quickly!"

Came a clatter of feet from below and then the eight men who
constituted the combatant strength of the Earthling forces in Utopia
emerged from under the archway running towards the two astonished
Utopians. Mr. Mush led, with Ridley at his heels; he was pointing his
revolver and shouting. Next came M. Dupont zealous and active. Father
Amerton brought up the rear with the rope.

"Go back!" screamed Mr. Barnstaple, with his voice breaking.

Then he stopped shouting and watched--with his hands clenched.

The aviator was running down the slope from his machine to the
assistance of Serpentine and Cedar. And above out of the blue two
other aeroplanes had appeared.

The two Utopians disdained to hurry and in a few seconds their
pursuers had come up with them. Hunker, Ridley and Mush led the
attack. M. Dupont, flourishing his stick, was abreast with them but
running out to the right as though he intended to get between them
and the aviator. Mr. Catskill and Penk were a little behind the
leading three; the one-armed Barralonga was perhaps ten yards behind
and Father Amerton had halted to re-coil his rope more conveniently.

There seemed to be a moment's parley and then Serpentine had moved
quickly as if to seize Hunker. A pistol cracked and then another
went off rapidly three times. "Oh God!" cried Mr. Barnstaple. "Oh
God!" as he saw Serpentine throw up his arms and fall backward,
and then Cedar had grasped and lifted up Mush and hurled him
at Mr. Catskill and Penk, bowling both of them over into one
indistinguishable heap. With a wild cry M. Dupont closed in on
Cedar but not quickly enough. His club shot into the air as Cedar
parried his blow, and then the Utopian stooped, caught him by a
leg, overthrew him, lifted him and whirled him round as one might
whirl a rabbit, to inflict a stunning blow on Mr. Hunker.

Lord Barralonga ran back some paces and began shooting at the
approaching aviator.

The confusion of legs and arms on the ground became three separate
people again. Mr. Catskill shouting directions, made for Cedar,
followed by Penk and Mush and, a moment after by Hunker and Dupont.
They clung to Cedar as hounds will cling to a boar. Time after time
he flung them off him. Father Amerton hovered unhelpfully with his
rope.

For some moments Mr. Barnstaple's attention was concentrated upon
this swaying and staggering attempt to overpower Cedar, and then he
became aware of other Utopians running down the slope to join the
fray.... The other two aeroplanes had landed.

Mr. Catskill realized the coming of these reinforcements almost as
soon as Mr. Barnstaple. His shouts of "Back! Back to the castle!"
reached Mr. Barnstaple's ears. The Earthlings scattered away from
the tall dishevelled figure, hesitated, and began walk and then run
back towards the castle.

And then Ridley turned and very deliberately shot Cedar, who
clutched at his breast and fell into a sitting position.

The Earthlings retreated to the foot of the steps that led up
through the archway into the castle, and stood there in a panting,
bruised and ruffled group. Fifty yards away Serpentine lay still,
the aviator whom Barralonga had shot writhed and moaned, and Cedar
sat up with blood upon his chest trying to feel his back. Five other
Utopians came hurrying to their assistance.

"What is all this firing?" said Lady Stella, suddenly at Mr.
Barnstaple's elbow.

"Have they caught their hostages?" asked Miss Greeta Grey.

"For the life of me!" said Mr. Burleigh, who had come out upon the
wall a yard or so away, "this ought never to have happened. How did
this get--_muffed_, Lady Stella?"

"I called out to them," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"_You_--called--out to them!" said Mr. Burleigh incredulous.

"Treason I did not calculate upon," came the wrathful voice of Mr.
Catskill ascending out of the archway.


Section 4

For some moments Mr. Barnstaple made no attempt to escape the danger
that closed in upon him. He had always lived a life of very great
security and with him, as with so many highly civilized types, the
power of apprehending personal danger was very largely atrophied. He
was a spectator by temperament and training alike. He stood now as
if he looked at himself, the central figure of a great and hopeless
tragedy. The idea of flight came belatedly, in a reluctant and
apologetic manner into his mind.

"Shot as a traitor," he said aloud. "Shot as a traitor."

There was that bridge over the narrow gorge. He might still get over
that, if he went for it at once. If he was quick--quicker than they
were. He was too intelligent to dash off for it; that would
certainly have set the others running. He walked along the wall in
a leisurely fashion past Mr. Burleigh, himself too civilized to
intervene. In a quickening stroll he gained the steps that led
to the citadel. Then he stood still for a moment to survey the
situation. Catskill was busy setting sentinels at the gate. Perhaps
he had not thought yet of the little bridge and imagined that Mr.
Barnstaple was at his disposal at any time that suited him. Up the
slope the Utopians were carrying off the dead or wounded men.

Mr. Barnstaple ascended the steps as if buried in thought and stood
on the citadel for some seconds, his hands in his trouser pockets,
as if he surveyed the view. Then he turned to the winding staircase
that went down to a sort of guard-room below. As soon as he was
surely out of sight he began to think and move very quickly.

The guard-room was perplexing. It had five doors, any one of which
except the one by which he had just entered the room, might lead
down to the staircase. Against one, however, stood a pile of neat
packing-cases. That left three to choose from, He ran from one to
the other leaving each door open. In each case stone steps ran down
to a landing and a turning place. He stood hesitating at the third
and noted that a cold draught came blowing up from it. Surely that
meant that this went down to the cliff face, or whence came the air?
Surely this was it!

Should he shut the doors he had opened? No! Leave them all open.

He heard a clatter coming down the staircase from the citadel.
Softly and swiftly he ran down the steps and halted for a second
at the corner landing. He was compelled to stop and listen to the
movements of his pursuers. "This is the door to the bridge, Sir!"
he heard Ridley cry, and then he heard Catskill say, "The Tarpeian
Rock," and Barralonga, "Exactly! Why should we waste a cartridge?
Are you sure this goes to the bridge, Ridley?"

The footsteps pattered across the guard-room and passed--down one
of the other staircases.

"A reprieve!" whispered Mr. Barnstaple and then stopped aghast.

He was trapped! The staircase they were on was the staircase to
the bridge!

They would go down as far as the bridge and as soon as they got to
it they would see that he was neither on it nor on the steps on the
opposite side of the gorge and that therefore he could not
possibly have escaped. They would certainly bar that way either
by closing and fastening any door there might be or, failing such
a barrier, by setting a sentinel, and then they would come back
and hunt for him at their leisure.

What was it Catskill had been saying? The Tarpeian Rock?...

Horrible!

They mustn't take him alive....

He must fight like a rat in a corner and oblige them to shoot him....

He went on down the staircase. It became very dark and then grew
light again. It ended in an ordinary big cellar, which may once have
been a gun-pit or magazine. It was fairly well lit by two unglazed
windows cut in the rock. It now contained a store of provisions.
Along one side stood an array of the flask-like bottles that were
used for wine in Utopia; along the other was a miscellany of
packing-cases and cubes wrapped in gold-leaf. He lifted one of the
glass flasks by its neck. It would make an effective club. Suppose
he made a sort of barrier of the packing-cases across the entrance
and stood beside it and clubbed the pursuers as they came in! Glass
and wine would smash over their skulls.... It would take time to
make the barrier.... He chose and carried three of the larger
flasks to the doorway where they would be handy for him. Then he
had an inspiration and looked at the window.

He listened at the door of the staircase for a time. Not a sound
came from above. He went to the window and lay down in the deep
embrasure and wriggled forward until he could see out and up and
down. The cliff below fell sheer; he could have spat on to the
brawling torrent fifteen hundred feet perhaps below. The crag here
was made up of almost vertical strata which projected and receded; a
big buttress hid almost all of the bridge except the far end which
seemed to be about twenty or thirty yards lower than the opening
from which Mr. Barnstaple was looking. Mr. Catskill appeared
upon this bridge, very small and distant, scrutinizing the rocky
stair-way beyond the bridge. Mr. Barnstaple withdrew his head
hastily. Then very discreetly he peeped again. Mr. Catskill was
no longer to be seen. He was coming back.

To business! There was not much time.

In his earlier days before the Great War had made travel dear
and uncomfortable Mr. Barnstaple had done some rock climbing in
Switzerland and he had also had some experience in Cumberland and
Wales. He surveyed now the rocks close at hand with an intelligent
expertness. They were cut by almost horizontal joint planes into
which there had been a considerable infiltration chiefly of white
crystalline material. This stuff, which he guessed was calcite,
had weathered more rapidly than the general material of the rock,
leaving a series of irregular horizontal grooves. With luck it
might be possible to work along the cliff face, turn the buttress
and scramble to the bridge.

And then came an even more hopeful idea. He could easily get along
the cliff face to the first recess, flatten himself there and
remain until the Earthlings had searched his cellar. After they had
searched he might creep back to the cellar. Even if they looked
out of the window they would not see him and even if he left
finger marks and so forth in the embrasure, they would be likely to
conclude that he had either jumped or fallen down the crag into the
gorge below. But at first it might be slow work negotiating the cliff
face.... And this would cut him off from his weapons, the flasks....

But the idea of hiding in the recess had taken a strong hold upon
his imagination. Very cautiously he got out of the window, found a
handhold, got his feet on to his ledge and began to work his way
along towards his niche.

But there were unexpected difficulties, a gap of nearly five yards
in the handhold--nothing. He had to flatten himself and trust to his
feet and for a time he remained quite still in that position.

Further on was a rotten lump of the vein mineral and it broke away
under him very disconcertingly, but happily his fingers had a grip
and the other foot was firm. The detached crystals slithered down
the rock face for a moment and then made no further sound. They had
dropped into the void. For a time he was paralyzed.

"I'm not in good form," whispered Mr. Barnstaple. "I'm not in good
form."

He clung motionless and prayed.

With an effort he resumed his traverse.

He was at the very corner of the recess when some faint noise drew
his eyes to the window from which he had emerged. Ridley's face was
poked out slowly and cautiously, his eye red and fierce among his
white bandages.


Section 5

He did not at first see Mr. Barnstaple. "Gawd!" he said when he
did so and withdrew his head hastily.

Came a sound of voices saying indistinguishable things.

Some inappropriate instinct kept Mr. Barnstaple quite still, though
he could have got into cover in the recess quite easily before Mr.
Catskill looked out revolver in hand.

For some moments they stared at each other in silence.

"Come back or I shoot," said Mr. Catskill unconvincingly.

"Shoot!" said Mr. Barnstaple after a moment's reflection.

Mr. Catskill craned his head out and stared down into the shadowy
blue depths of the canyon. "It isn't necessary," he answered. "We
have to save cartridges."

"You haven't the guts," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"It's not quite that," said Mr. Catskill.

"No," said Mr. Barnstaple, "it isn't. You are fundamentally a
civilized man."

Mr. Catskill scowled at him without hostility.

"You have a very good imagination," Mr. Barnstaple reflected. "The
trouble is that you have been so damnably educated. What is the
trouble with you? You are be-Kiplinged. Empire and Anglo-Saxon and
boy-scout and sleuth are the stuff in your mind. If I had gone to
Eton I might have been the same as you are, I suppose."

"Harrow," corrected Mr. Catskill.

"A perfectly _beastly_ public school. Suburban place where the boys
wear chignons and straw haloes. I might have guessed Harrow. But
it's queer I bear you no malice. Given decent ideas you might have
been very different from what you are. If I had been your
schoolmaster-- But it's too late now."

"It is," said Mr. Rupert Catskill smiling genially and cocked his
eye down into the canyon.

Mr. Barnstaple began to feel for his ledge round the corner with
one foot.

"Don't go for a minute," said Mr. Catskill. "I'm not going to
shoot."

A voice from within, probably Lord Barralonga's, said something
about heaving a rock at Mr. Barnstaple. Someone else, probably
Ridley, approved ferociously.

"Not without due form of trial," said Mr. Catskill over his
shoulder. His face was inscrutable, but a fantastic idea began to
run about in Mr. Barnstaple's mind that Mr. Catskill did not want to
have him killed. He had thought about things and he wanted him now
to escape--to the Utopians and perhaps rig up some sort of settlement
with them.

"We intend to try you, Sir," said Mr. Catskill. "We intend to try
you. We cite you to appear."

Mr. Catskill moistened his lips and considered. "The court will sit
almost at once." His little bright brown eyes estimated the chances
of Mr. Barnstaple's position very rapidly. He craned towards the
bridge. "We shall not waste time over our procedure," he said. "And
I have little doubt of our verdict. We shall condemn you to death.
So--there you are, Sir. I doubt if we shall be more than a quarter
of an hour before your fate is legally settled."

He glanced up trying to see the crest of the crag. "We shall probably
throw rocks," he said.

"Moriturus te saluo," said Mr. Barnstaple with an air of making a
witty remark. "If you will forgive me I will go on now to find a
more comfortable position."

Mr. Catskill remained looking hard at him.

"I've never borne you any ill-will," said Mr. Barnstaple. "Had I
been your schoolmaster everything might have been different. Thanks
for the quarter of an hour more you give me. And if by any chance--"

"Exactly," said Mr. Catskill.

They understood one another.

When Mr. Barnstaple stepped round the bend into the recess Mr.
Catskill was still looking out and Lord Barralonga was faintly
audible advocating the immediate heaving of rocks.


Section 6

The ways of the human mind are past finding out. From desperation
Mr. Barnstaple's mood had passed to exhilaration. His first sick
horror of climbing above this immense height had given place now to
an almost boyish assurance. His sense of immediate death had gone.
He was appreciating this adventure, indeed he was enjoying it, with
an entire disregard now of how it was to end.

He made fairly good time until he got to the angle of the buttress,
though his arms began to ache rather badly, and then he had a shock.
He had now a full view of the bridge and up the narrow gorge. The
ledge he was working along did not run to the bridge at all. It ran
a good thirty feet below it. And what was worse, between himself and
the bridge were two gullies and chimneys of uncertain depth. At this
discovery he regretted for the first time that he had not stayed in
the cellar and made a fight for it there.

He had some minutes of indecision--with the ache in his arms
increasing.

He was roused from his inaction by what he thought at first was the
shadow of a swift-flying bird on the rock. Presently it returned. He
hoped he was not to be assailed by birds. He had read a story--but
never mind that now.

Then came a loud crack overhead, and he glanced up to see a lump of
rock which had just struck a little bulge above him fly to
fragments. From which incident he gathered firstly that the court
had delivered an adverse verdict rather in advance of Mr. Catskill's
time, and secondly that he was visible from above. He resumed his
traverse towards the shelter of the gully with feverish energy.

The gully was better than he expected, a chimney; difficult, he
thought, to ascend, but quite practicable downward. It was
completely overhung. And perhaps a hundred feet below there was a
sort of step in it that gave a quite broad recess, sheltered from
above and with room enough for a man to sprawl on it if he wanted to
do so. There would be rest for Mr. Barnstaple's arms, and without
any needless delay he clambered down to it and abandoned himself
to the delightful sensation of not holding on to anything. He was
out of sight and out of reach of his Earthling pursuers.

In the back of the recess was a trickle of water. He drank and
began to think of food and to regret that he had not brought some
provision with him from the store in the cellar. He might have
opened one of those gold-leaf-covered cubes or pocketed a small
flask of wine. Wine would be very heartening just now. But it did
not do to think of that. He stayed for a long time, as it seemed to
him, on this precious shelf, scrutinizing the chimney below very
carefully. It seemed quite practicable for a long way down. The
sides became very smooth, but they seemed close enough together to
get down with his back against one side and his feet against the
other.

He looked at his wrist-watch. It was still not nine o'clock in the
morning--it was about ten minutes to nine. He had been called by
Ridley before half-past five. At half-past six he had been handing
out breakfast in the courtyard. Serpentine and Cedar must have
appeared about eight o'clock. In about ten minutes Serpentine had
been murdered. Then the flight and the pursuit. How quickly things
had happened!...

He had all day before him. He would resume his descent at half-past
nine. Until then he would rest.... It was absurd to feel hungry
yet....

He was climbing again before half-past nine. For perhaps a hundred
feet it was easy. Then by imperceptible degrees the gully broadened.
He only realized it when he found himself slipping. He slipped,
struggling furiously, for perhaps twenty feet, and then fell
outright another ten and struck a rock and was held by a second
shelf much broader than the one above. He came down on it with a
jarring concussion and rolled--happily he rolled inward. He was
bruised, but not seriously hurt. "My luck," he said. "My luck holds
good."

He rested for a time, and then, confident that things would be all
right, set himself to inspect the next stage of his descent. It was
with a sort of incredulity that he discovered the chimney below his
shelf was absolutely unclimbable. It was just a straight, smooth
rock on either side for twenty yards at least and six feet wide. He
might as well fling himself over at once as try to get down that.
Then he saw that it was equally impossible to retrace his steps. He
could not believe it; it seemed too silly. He laughed as one might
laugh if one found one's own mother refusing to recognize one after
a day's absence.

Then abruptly he stopped laughing.

He repeated every point in his examination. He fingered the smooth
rocks about him. "But this is absurd," he said breaking out into a
cold perspiration. There was no way out of this corner into which he
had so painfully and laboriously got himself. He could neither go on
nor go back. He was caught. His luck had given out.


Section 7

At midday by his wrist-watch Mr. Barnstaple was sitting in his
recess as a weary invalid suffering from some incurable disease
might sit up in an arm-chair during a temporary respite from pain,
with nothing to do and no hope before him. There was not one chance
in ten thousand that anything could happen to release him from this
trap into which he had clambered. There was a trickle of water at
the back but no food, not even a grass blade to nibble. Unless he
saw fit to pitch himself over into the gorge, he must starve to
death.... It would perhaps be cold at nights but not cold enough to
kill him.

To this end he had come then out of the worried journalism of London
and the domesticities of Sydenham.

Queer journey it was that he and the Yellow Peril had made!--Camberwell,
Victoria, Hounslow, Slough, Utopia, the mountain paradise, a hundred
fascinating and tantalizing glimpses of a world of real happiness
and order, that long, long aeroplane flight half round a world....
And now--death.

The idea of abbreviating his sufferings by jumping over had no
appeal for him. He would stay here and suffer such suffering as
there might be before the end. And three hundred yards away or so
were his fellow Earthlings, also awaiting their fate.... It was
amazing. It was prosaic....

After all to this or something like this most humanity had to come.

Sooner or later people had to live and suffer, they had to think and
then think feverishly and then weakly, and so fade to a final
cessation of thought.

On the whole, he thought, it was preferable to die in this fashion,
preferable to a sudden death, it was worth while to look death in
the face for a time, have leisure to write finis in one's mind, to
think over life and such living as one had done and think it over with
a detachment, an independence, that only an entire inability to alter
one jot of it now could give.

At present his mind was clear and calm; a bleak serenity like a
clear winter sky possessed him. There was suffering ahead, he knew,
but he did not believe it would be intolerable suffering. If it
proved intolerable the canyon yawned below. In that respect this
shelf or rock was a better death bed than most, a more convenient
death bed. Your sick bed presented pain with a wide margin, set
it up for your too complete examination. But to starve was not so
very dreadful, he had read; hunger and pain there would be, most
distressful about the third day, and after that one became feeble
and did not feel so much. It would not be like the torture of many
cancer cases or the agony of brain fever; it would not be one tithe
as bad as that. Lonely it would be. But is one much less lonely on
a death bed at home? They come and say, "There! there!" and do
little serviceable things--but are there any other interchanges?...
You go your solitary way, speech and movement and the desire to
speak or move passing from you, and their voices fade.... Everywhere
death is a very solitary act, a going apart....

A younger man would probably have found this loneliness in the gorge
very terrible, but Mr. Barnstaple had outlived the intenser
delusions of companionship. He would have liked a last talk with his
boys and to have put his wife into a good frame of mind, but even
these desires were perhaps more sentimental than real. When it came
to talks with his boys he was apt to feel shy. As they had come to
have personalities of their own and to grow through adolescence,
he had felt more and more that talking intimately to them was an
invasion of their right to grow up along their own lines. And they
too he felt were shy with him, defensively shy. Perhaps later on
sons came back to a man--that was a later on that he would never
know now. But he wished he could have let them know what had
happened to him. That troubled him. It would set him right in their
eyes, it would perhaps be better for their characters, if they did
not think--as they were almost bound to think--that he had run away
from them or lapsed mentally or even fallen into bad company and
been made away with. As it was they might be worried and ashamed,
needlessly, or put to expense to find out where he was, and that
would be a pity.

One had to die. Many men had died as he was going to die, fallen
into strange places, lost in dark caverns, marooned on desert
islands, astray in the Australian bush, imprisoned and left to
perish. It was good to die without great anguish or insult. He
thought of the myriads of men who had been crucified by the
Romans--was it eight thousand or was it ten thousand of the army of
Spartacus that they killed in that fashion along the Appian Way?--of
negroes hung in chains to starve, and of an endless variety of such
deaths. Shocking to young imaginations such things were and more
fearful in thought than in reality. It is all a matter of a little
more pain or a little less pain--but God will not have any great
waste of pain. Cross, wheel, electric chair or bed of suffering--the
thing is, _you die and have done_.

It was pleasant to find that one could think stoutly of these
things. It was good to be caught and to find that one was not
frantic. And Mr. Barnstaple was surprised to find how little he
cared, now that he faced the issue closely, whether he was immortal
or whether he was not. He was quite prepared to find himself
immortal or at least not ending with death, in whole or in part. It
was ridiculous to be dogmatic and say that a part, an impression, of
his conscience and even of his willing life might not go on in some
fashion. But he found it impossible to imagine how that could be. It
was unimaginable. It was not to be anticipated. He had no fear of
that continuation. He had no thought nor fear of the possibility of
punishment or cruelty. The universe had at times seemed to him to be
very carelessly put together, but he had never believed that it was
the work of a malignant imbecile. It impressed him as immensely
careless but not as dominatingly cruel. He had been what he had
been, weak and limited and sometimes silly, but the punishment of
these defects lay in the defects themselves.

He ceased to think about his own death. He began to think of life
generally, its present lowliness, its valiant aspiration. He found
himself regretting bitterly that he was not to see more of this
Utopian world, which was in so many respects so near an intimation
of what our own world may become. It had been very heartening to see
human dreams and human ideals vindicated by realization, but it was
distressing to have had the vision snatched away while he was still
only beginning to examine it. He found himself asking questions that
had no answers for him, about economics, about love and struggle.
Anyhow, he was glad to have seen as much as he had. It was good to
have been purged by this vision and altogether lifted out of the
dreary hopelessness of Mr. Peeve, to have got life into perspective
again.

The passions and conflicts and discomforts of A.D. 1921 were the
discomforts of the fever of an uninoculated world. The Age of
Confusion on the earth also would, in its own time, work itself out,
thanks to a certain obscure and indomitable righteousness in the
blood of the human type. Squatting in a hole in the cliff of the
great crag, with unclimbable heights and depths above him and below,
chilly, hungry and uncomfortable, this thought was a profound
comfort to the strangely constituted mind of Mr. Barnstaple.

But how miserably had he and his companions failed to rise to the
great occasions of Utopia! No one had raised an effectual hand to
restrain the puerile imaginations of Mr. Catskill and the mere
brutal aggressiveness of his companions. How invincibly had Father
Amerton headed for the role of the ranting, hating, persecuting,
quarrel-making priest. How pitifully weak and dishonest Mr.
Burleigh--and himself scarcely better! disapproving always and
always in ineffective opposition. What an unintelligent beauty-cow
that woman Greeta Grey was, receptive, acquisitive, impenetrable to
any idea but the idea of what was due to her as a yielding female!
Lady Stella was of finer clay, but fired to no service. Women, he
thought, had not been well represented in this chance expedition,
just one waster and one ineffective. Was that a fair sample of
earth's womankind?

All the use these Earthlings had had for Utopia was to turn it back
as speedily as possible to the aggressions, subjugations, cruelties
and disorders of the Age of Confusion to which they belonged.
Serpentine and Cedar, the man of scientific power and the man of
healing, they had sought to make hostages to disorder, and failing
that they had killed or sought to kill them.

They had tried to bring back Utopia to the state of earth, and
indeed but for the folly, malice and weakness of men earth was now
Utopia. Old Earth was Utopia now, a garden and a glory, the Earthly
Paradise, except that it was trampled to dust and ruin by its
Catskills, Hunkers, Barralongas, Ridleys, Duponts and their kind.
Against their hasty trampling folly nothing was pitted, it seemed,
in the whole wide world at present but the whinings of the Peeves,
the acquiescent disapproval of the Burleighs and such immeasurable
ineffectiveness as his own protest. And a few writers and teachers
who produced results at present untraceable.

Once more Mr. Barnstaple found himself thinking of his old friend,
the school inspector and school-book writer, who had worked so
steadfastly and broken down and died so pitifully. He had worked
for Utopia all his days. Were there hundreds or thousands of such
Utopians yet on earth? What magic upheld them?

"I wish I could get some message through to them," said Mr.
Barnstaple, "to hearten them."

For it was true, though he himself had to starve and die like a
beast fallen into a pit, nevertheless Utopia triumphed and would
triumph. The grabbers and fighters, the persecutors and patriots,
the lynchers and boycotters and all the riff-raff of short-sighted
human violence, crowded on to final defeat. Even in their lives they
know no happiness, they drive from excitement to excitement and from
gratification to exhaustion. Their enterprises and successes, their
wars and glories, flare and pass. Only the true thing grows, the
truth, the clear idea, year by year and age by age, slowly and
invincibly as a diamond grows amidst the darkness and pressures of
the earth, or as the dawn grows amidst the guttering lights of some
belated orgy.

What would be the end of those poor little people up above there?
Their hold on life was even more precarious than his own, for he
might lie and starve here slowly for weeks before his mind gave its
last flicker. But they had openly pitted themselves against the
might and wisdom of Utopia, and even now the ordered power of that
world must be closing in upon them. He still had a faint irrational
remorse for his betrayal of Catskill's ambush. He smiled now at the
passionate conviction he had felt at the time that if once Catskill
could capture his hostages, earth might prevail over Utopia. That
conviction had rushed him into action. His weak cries had seemed to
be all that was left to avert this monstrous disaster. But suppose
he had not been there at all, or suppose he had obeyed the lingering
instinct of fellowship that urged him to fight with the others; what
then?

When he recalled the sight of Cedar throwing Mush about as one might
throw a lap-dog about, and the height and shape of Serpentine, he
doubted whether even upon the stairs in the archway it would have
been possible for the Earthlings to have overpowered these two. The
revolvers would have come into use just as they had come into use
upon the slope, and Catskill would have got no hostages but only two
murdered men.

How unutterably silly the whole scheme of Catskill had been! But
it was no sillier than the behaviour of Catskill, Burleigh and the
rest of the world's statesmen had been on earth, during the last
few years. At times during the world agony of the Great War it had
seemed that Utopia drew near to earth. The black clouds and smoke of
these dark years had been shot with the light of strange hopes, with
the promise of a world reborn. But the nationalists, financiers,
priests and patriots had brought all those hopes to nothing.
They had trusted to old poisons and infections and to the weak
resistances of the civilized spirit. They had counted their weapons
and set their ambushes and kept their women busy sewing flags of
discord....

For a time they had killed hope, but only for a time. For Hope, the
redeemer of mankind, there is perpetual resurrection.

"Utopia will win," said Mr. Barnstaple and for a time he sat
listening to a sound he had heard before without heeding it very
greatly, a purring throb in the rocks about him, like the running
of some great machine. It grew louder and then faded down to the
imperceptible again.

His thoughts came back to his erstwhile companions. He hoped they
were not too miserable or afraid up there. He was particularly
desirous that something should happen to keep up Lady Stella's
courage. He worried affectionately about Lady Stella. For the rest
it would be as well if they remained actively combative to the end.
Possibly they were all toiling at some preposterous and wildly
hopeful defensive scheme of Catskill's. Except Mr. Burleigh who
would be resting--convinced that for him at least there would still
be a gentlemanly way out. And probably not much afraid if there
wasn't. Amerton and possibly Mush might lapse into a religious
revival--that would irritate the others a little, or possibly even
provide a mental opiate for Lady Stella and Miss Greeta Grey. Then
for Penk there was wine in the cellar....

They would follow the laws of their being, they would do the things
that nature and habit would require of them. What else was possible?

Mr. Barnstaple plunged into a metaphysical gulf....

Presently he caught himself looking at his wrist-watch. It was
twenty minutes past twelve. He was looking at his watch more and
more frequently or time was going more slowly.... Should he wind
his watch or let it run down? He was already feeling very hungry.
That could not be real hunger yet; it must be his imagination
getting out of control.



CHAPTER THE FOURTH

THE END OF QUARANTINE CRAG


Section 1

Mr. Barnstaple awoke slowly and reluctantly from a dream about
cookery. He was Soyer, the celebrated chef of the Reform Club, and
he was inventing and tasting new dishes. But in the pleasant way of
dreamland he was not only Soyer, but at the same time he was a very
clever Utopian biologist and also God Almighty. So that he could not
only make new dishes, but also make new vegetables and meats to go
into them. He was particularly interested in a new sort of fowl, the
Chateaubriand breed of fowls, which was to combine the rich quality
of very good beefsteak with the size and delicacy of a fowl's
breast. And he wanted to stuff it with a blend of pimento, onion and
mushroom--except that the mushroom wasn't quite the thing. The
mushrooms--he tasted them--indeed just the least little modification.
And into the dream came an assistant cook, several assistant cooks,
all naked as Utopians, bearing fowls from the pantry and saying that
they had not kept, they had gone "high" and they were going higher.
In order to illustrate this idea of their going higher these
assistant cooks lifted the fowls above their heads and then began to
climb the walls of the kitchen, which were rocky and for a kitchen
remarkably close together. Their figures became dark. They were
thrown up in black outline against the luminous steam arising from
a cauldron of boiling soup. It was boiling soup, and yet it was
cold soup and cold steam.

Mr. Barnstaple was awake.

In the place of luminous steam there was mist, brightly moonlit
mist, filling the gorge. It threw up the figures of the two Utopians
in black silhouette....

_What_ Utopians?

His mind struggled between dreaming and waking. He started up
rigidly attentive. They moved with easy gestures, quite unaware of
his presence so close to them. They had already got a thin rope
ladder fixed to some point overhead, but how they had managed to do
this he did not know. One still stood on the shelf, the other swayed
above him stretched across the gully clinging to the rope with his
feet against the rock. The head of a third figure appeared above the
edge of the shelf. It swayed from side to side. He was evidently
coming up by a second rope ladder. Some sort of discussion was in
progress. It was borne in upon Mr. Barnstaple that this last comer
thought that he and his companions had clambered high enough, but
that the uppermost man insisted they should go higher. In a few
moments the matter was settled.

The uppermost Utopian became very active, lunged upward, swung out
and vanished by jerks out of Mr. Barnstaple's field of view. His
companions followed him and one after the other was lost to sight,
leaving nothing visible but the convulsively agitated rope ladder
and a dangling rope that they seemed to be dragging up the crag with
them.

Mr. Barnstaple's taut muscles relaxed. He yawned silently, stretched
his painful limbs and stood up very cautiously. He peered up the
gully. The Utopians seemed to have reached the shelf above and to be
busy there. The rope that had dangled became taut. They were hauling
up something from below. It was a large bundle, possibly of tools or
weapons or material wrapped in something that deadened its impacts
against the rock. It jumped into view, hung spinning for a moment
and was then snatched upward as the Utopians took in a fresh reef of
rope. A period of silence followed.

He heard a metallic clang and then, thud, thud, a dull intermittent
hammering. Then he jumped back as the end of a thin rope, apparently
running over a pulley, dropped past him. The sounds from above now
were like filing and then some bits of rock fell past him into the
void.


Section 2

He did not know what to do. He was afraid to call to these Utopians
and make his presence known to them. After the murder of Serpentine
he was very doubtful how a Utopian would behave to an Earthling
found hiding in a dark corner.

He examined the rope ladder that had brought these Utopians to his
level. It was held by a long spike the end of which was buried in
the rock at the side of the gully. Possibly this spike had been
fired at the rock from below while he was asleep. The ladder was
made up of straight lengths and rings at intervals of perhaps two
feet. It was of such light material that he would have doubted its
capacity to bear a man if he had not seen the Utopians upon it. It
occurred to him that he might descend by this now and take his
chances with any Utopians who might be below. He could not very well
bring himself to the attention of these three Utopians above except
by some sudden and startling action which might provoke sudden and
unpleasant responses, but if he appeared first clambering slowly
from above, any Utopians beneath would have time to realize and
consider the fact of his proximity before they dealt with him. And
also he was excessively eager to get down from this dreary ledge.

He gripped a ring, thrust a leg backwards over the edge of the
shelf, listened for some moments to the little noises of the three
workers above him, and then began his descent.

It was an enormous descent. Presently he found himself regretting
that he had not begun counting the rings of the ladder. He must
already have handed himself down hundreds. And still when he craned
his neck to look down, the dark gulf yawned below. It had become
very dark now. The moonlight did not cut down very deeply into the
canyon and the faint reflection from the thin mists above was all
there was to break the blackness. And even overhead the moonlight
seemed to be passing.

Now he was near the rock, now it fell away and the rope ladder
seemed to fall plumb into lightless bottomless space. He had to feel
for each ring, and his bare feet and hands were already chafed and
painful. And a new and disagreeable idea had come into his head--that
some Utopian might presently come rushing up the ladder. But he
would get notice of that because the rope would tighten and quiver,
and he would be able to cry out, "I am an Earthling coming down. I
am a harmless Earthling."

He began to cry out these words experimentally. The gorge re-echoed
them, and there was no answering sound.

He became silent again, descending grimly and as steadily as
possible, because now an intense desire to get off this infernal
rope ladder and rest his hot hands and feet was overmastering
every other motive.

Clang, clang and a flash of green light.

He became rigid peering into the depths of the canyon. Came the
green flash again. It revealed the depths of the gorge, still as it
seemed an immense distance below him. And up the gorge--something;
he could not grasp what it was during that momentary revelation. At
first he thought it was a huge serpent writhing its way down the
gorge, and then he concluded it must be a big cable that was being
brought along the gorge by a handful of Utopians. But how the three
or four figures he had indistinctly seen could move this colossal
rope he could not imagine. The head of this cable serpent seemed
to be lifting itself obliquely up the cliff. Perhaps it was being
dragged up by ropes he had not observed. He waited for a third
flash, but none came. He listened. He could hear nothing but a
throbbing sound he had already noted before, like the throbbing
of an engine running very smoothly.

He resumed his descent.

When at last he reached a standing place it took him by surprise.
The rope ladder fell past it for some yards and ended. He was
swaying more and more and beginning to realize that the rope ladder
came to an end, when he perceived the dim indication of a nearly
horizontal gallery cut along the rock face. He put out a foot and
felt an edge and swung away out from it. He was now so weary and
exhausted that for a time he could not relinquish his grip on the
rope ladder and get a footing on the shelf. At last he perceived
how this could be done. He released his feet and gave himself a
push away from the rock with them. He swung back into a convenient
position for getting a foothold. He repeated this twice, and then
had enough confidence to abandon his ladder and drop on to the
shelf. The ladder dangled away from him into the darkness and
then came wriggling back to tap him playfully and startlingly on
the shoulder blade.

The gallery he found himself in seemed to follow a great vein of
crystalline material, along the cliff face. Borings as high as a man
ran into the rock. He peered and felt his way along the gallery for
a time. Manifestly if this was a mine there would be some way of
ascending to it and descending from it into the gorge. The sound of
the torrent was much louder now, and he judged he had perhaps come
down two-thirds of the height of the crag. He was inclined to wait
for daylight. The illuminated dial of his wrist-watch told him it
was now four o'clock. It would not be long before dawn. He found a
comfortable face of rock for his back and squatted down.

Dawn seemed to come very quickly, but in reality he dozed away the
interval. When he glanced at his watch again it was half-past five.

He went to the edge of the gallery and peered up the gorge to where
he had seen the cable. Things were pale and dim and very black and
white, but perfectly clear. The walls of the canyon seemed to go up
for ever and vanish at last in cloud. He had a glimpse of a Utopian
below, who was presently hidden by the curve of the gorge. He
guessed that the great cable must have been brought so close up
to the Quarantine Crag as to be invisible to him.

He could find no down-going steps from the gallery, but some thirty
or forty yards off were five or six cable ways running at a steep
angle from the gallery to the opposite side of the gorge. They
looked very black and distinct. He went along to them. Each was a
carrier cable on which ran a small carrier trolley with a big hook
below. Three of the carrier cables were empty, but on two the
trolley was hauled up. Mr. Barnstaple examined the trolleys and
found a catch retained them. He turned over one of these catches and
the trolley ran away promptly, nearly dropping him into the gulf. He
saved himself by clutching the carrier cable. He watched the trolley
swoop down like a bird to a broad stretch of sandy beach on the
other side of the torrent and come to rest there. It seemed all
right. Trembling violently, he turned to the remaining trolley.

His nerves and will were so exhausted now that it was a long time
before he could bring himself to trust to the hook of the remaining
trolley and to release its catch. Then smoothly and swiftly he
swept across the gorge to the beach below. There were big heaps of
crystalline mineral on this beach and a cable--evidently for raising
it--came down out of the mists above from some invisible crane, but
not a Utopian was in sight. He relinquished his hold and dropped
safely on his feet. The beach broadened down-stream and he walked
along it close to the edge of the torrent.

The light grew stronger as he went. The world ceased to be a world
of greys and blacks; colour came back to things. Everything was
heavily bedewed. And he was hungry and almost intolerably weary. The
sand changed in its nature and became soft and heavy for his feet.
He felt he could walk no further. He must wait for help. He sat down
on a rock and looked up towards Quarantine Crag towering overhead.


Section 3

Sheer and high the great headland rose like the prow of some
gigantic ship behind the two deep blue canyons; a few wisps and
layers of mist still hid from Mr. Barnstaple its crest and the
little bridge across the narrower gorge. The sky above between the
streaks of mist was now an intense blue. And even as he gazed the
mists swirled and dissolved, the rays of the rising sun smote the
old castle to blinding gold, and the fastness of the Earthlings
stood out clear and bright.

The bridge and the castle were very remote and all that part of
the crag was like a little cap on the figure of a tall upstanding
soldier. Round beneath the level of the bridge at about the height
at which the three Utopians had worked or were still working ran
something dark, a rope-like band. He jumped to the conclusion that
this must be the cable he had seen lit up by those green flashes in
the night. Then he noted a peculiar body upon the crest of the more
open of the two gorges. It was an enormous vertical coil, a coil
flattened into a disc, which had appeared on the edge of the
cliff opposite to Quarantine Crag. Less plainly seen because of a
projecting mass of rock, was a similar coil in the narrower canyon
close to the steps that led up from the little bridge. Two or three
Utopians, looking very small because they were so high and very
squat because they were so foreshortened, were moving along the
cliff edge and handling something that apparently had to do with
these coils.

Mr. Barnstaple stared at these arrangements with much the same
uncomprehending stare as that with which some savage who had never
heard a shot fired in anger might watch the loading of a gun.

Came a familiar sound, faint and little. It was the hooter of
Quarantine Castle sounding the reveille. And almost simultaneously
the little Napoleonic figure of Mr. Rupert Catskill emerged
against the blue. The head and shoulders of Penk rose and halted
and stood at attention behind him. The captain of the Earthlings
produced his field-glasses and surveyed the coils through them.

"I wonder what he makes of them," said Mr. Barnstaple.

Mr. Catskill turned and gave some direction to Penk, who saluted
and vanished.

A click from the nearer gorge jerked his attention back to the
little bridge. It had gone. His eye dropped and caught it up within
a few yards of the water. He saw the water splash and the metal
framework crumple up and dance two steps and lie still, and then a
moment later the crash and clatter of the fall reached his ears.

"Now who did that?" asked Mr. Barnstaple and Mr. Catskill answered
his question by going hastily to that corner of the castle and
staring down. Manifestly he was surprised. Manifestly therefore it
was the Utopians who had cut the bridge.

Mr. Catskill was joined almost immediately by Mr. Hunker and Lord
Barralonga. Their gestures suggested an animated discussion.

The sunlight was creeping by imperceptible degrees down the front
of Quarantine Crag. It had now got down to the cable that encircled
the crest; in the light this shone with a coppery sheen. The
three Utopians who had awakened Mr. Barnstaple in the night became
visible descending the rope ladder very rapidly. And once more Mr.
Barnstaple was aware of that humming sound he had heard ever and
again during the night, but now it was much louder and it sounded
everywhere about him, in the air, in the water, in the rocks and
in his bones.

Abruptly something black and spear-shaped appeared beside the little
group of Earthlings above. It seemed to jump up beside them, it
paused and jumped again half the height of a man and jumped again.
It was a flag being hauled up a flag staff, that Mr. Barnstaple had
not hitherto observed. It reached the top of the staff and hung
limp.

Then some eddy in the air caught it. It flapped out for a moment,
displayed a white star on a blue ground and dropped again.

This was the flag of earth--this was the flag of the crusade to
restore the blessings of competition, conflict and warfare to
Utopia. Beneath it appeared the head of Mr. Burleigh, examining
the Utopian coils through his glasses.


Section 4

The throbbing and humming in Mr. Barnstaple's ears grew rapidly
louder and rose acutely to an extreme intensity. Suddenly great
flashes of violet light leapt across from coil to coil, passing
through Quarantine Castle as though it was not there.

For a moment longer it _was_ there.

The flag flared out madly and was torn from its staff. Mr. Burleigh
lost his hat. A half length of Mr. Catskill became visible
struggling with his coat tails which had blown up and enveloped his
head. At the same time Mr. Barnstaple saw the castle rotating upon
the lower part of the crag, exactly as though some invisible giant
had seized the upper tenth of the headland and was twisting it
round.

And then it vanished.

As it did so, a great column of dust poured up into its place; the
waters in the gorge sprung into the air in tall fountains and were
splashed to spray, and a deafening thud smote Mr. Barnstaple's ears.
Aerial powers picked him up and tossed him a dozen yards and he fell
amidst a rain of dust and stones and water. He was bruised and
stunned.

"My God!" he cried, "My God," and struggled to his knees, feeling
violently sick.

He had a glimpse of the crest of Quarantine Crag, truncated as
neatly as though it had been cheese cut with a sharp knife. And
then fatigue and exhaustion had their way with him and he sprawled
forward and lay insensible.



BOOK THE THIRD

A Neophyte in Utopia


CHAPTER THE FIRST

THE PEACEFUL HILLS BESIDE THE RIVER


Section 1

"God has made more universes than there are pages in all the
libraries of earth; man may learn and grow for ever amidst the
multitude of His worlds."

Mr. Barnstaple had a sense of floating from star to star and
from plane to plane, through an incessant variety and wonder of
existences. He passed over the edge of being; he drifted for ages
down the faces of immeasurable cliffs; he travelled from everlasting
to everlasting in a stream of innumerable little stars. At last came
a phase of profound restfulness. There was a sky of level clouds,
warmed by the light of a declining sun, and a skyline of gently
undulating hills, golden grassy upon their crests and carrying dark
purple woods and thickets and patches of pale yellow like ripening
corn upon their billowing slopes. Here and there were domed
buildings and terraces, flowering gardens and little villas and
great tanks of gleaming water.

There were many trees like the eucalyptus--only that they had darker
leaves--upon the slopes immediately below and round and about him;
and all the land fell at last towards a very broad valley down which
a shining river wound leisurely in great semicircular bends until it
became invisible in evening haze.

A slight movement turned his eyes to discover Lychnis seated beside
him. She smiled at him and put her finger on her lips. He had a
vague desire to address her, and smiled faintly and moved his head.
She got up and slipped away from him past the head of his couch.
He was too feeble and incurious to raise his head and look to see
where she had gone. But he saw that she had been sitting at a white
table on which was a silver bowl full of intensely blue flowers,
and the colour of the flowers held him and diverted his first faint
impulse of curiosity.

He wondered whether colours were really brighter in this Utopian
world or whether something in the air quickened and clarified his
apprehension.

Beyond the table were the white pillars of the loggia. A branch of
one of these eucalyptus-like trees, with leaves bronze black, came
very close outside.

And there was music. It was a little trickle of sound, that dripped
and ran, a mere unobtrusive rivulet of little clear notes upon the
margin of his consciousness, the song of some fairyland Debussy.

Peace....


Section 2

He was awake again.

He tried hard to remember.

He had been knocked over and stunned in some manner too big and
violent for his mind to hold as yet.

Then people had stood about him and talked about him. He remembered
their feet. He must have been lying on his face with his face very
close to the ground. Then they had turned him over, and the light of
the rising sun had been blinding in his eyes.

Two gentle goddesses had given him some restorative in a gorge at
the foot of high cliffs. He had been carried in a woman's arms as
a child is carried. After that there were cloudy and dissolving
memories of a long journey, a long flight through the air. There
was something next to this, a vision of huge complicated machinery
that did not join on to anything else. For a time his mind held this
up in an interrogative fashion and then dropped it wearily. There
had been voices in consultation, the prick of an injection and some
gas that he had had to inhale. And sleep--or sleeps, spells of sleep
interspersed with dreams....

Now with regard to that gorge; how had he got there?

The gorge--in another light, a greenish light--with Utopians who
struggled with a great cable.

Suddenly hard and clear came the vision of the headland of
Quarantine Crag towering up against the bright blue morning sky, and
then the crest of it grinding round, with its fluttering flags and
its dishevelled figures, passing slowly and steadily, as some great
ship passes out of a dock, with its flags and passengers into the
invisible and unknown. All the wonder of his great adventure
returned to Mr. Barnstaple's mind.


Section 3

He sat up in a state of interrogation and Lychnis reappeared at his
elbow.

She seated herself on his bed close to him, shook up some pillows
behind him and persuaded him to lie back upon them. She conveyed to
him that he was cured of some illness and no longer infectious, but
that he was still very weak. Of what illness? he asked himself. More
of the immediate past became clear to him.

"There was an epidemic," he said. "A sort of mixed epidemic--of all
our infections."

She smiled reassuringly. It was over. The science and organization
of Utopia had taken the danger by the throat and banished it.
Lychnis, however, had had nothing to do with the preventive and
cleansing work that had ended the career of these invading microbes
so speedily; her work had been the help and care of the sick.
Something came through to the intelligence of Mr. Barnstaple that
made him think that she was faintly sorry that this work of pity was
no longer necessary. He looked up into her beautiful kindly eyes and
met her affectionate solicitude. She was not sorry Utopia was cured
again; that was incredible; but it seemed to him that she was sorry
that she could no longer spend herself in help and that she was glad
that he at least was still in need of assistance.

"What became of those people on the rock?" he asked. "What became of
the other Earthlings?"

She did not know. They had been cast out of Utopia, she thought.


"Back to earth?"

She did not think they had gone back to earth. They had perhaps gone
into yet another universe. But she did not know. She was one of those
who had no mathematical aptitudes, and physico-chemical science and
the complex theories of dimensions that interested so many people
in Utopia were outside her circle of ideas. She believed that the
crest of Quarantine Crag had been swung out of the Utopian universe
altogether. A great number of people were now intensely interested
in this experimental work upon the unexplored dimensions into which
physical processes might he swung, but these matters terrified her.
Her mind recoiled from them as one recoils from the edge of a cliff.
She did not want to think where the Earthlings had gone, what deeps
they had reeled over, what immensities they had seen and swept down
into. Such thoughts opened dark gulfs beneath her feet where she
had thought everything fixed and secure. She was a conservative in
Utopia. She loved life as it was and as it had been. She had given
herself to the care of Mr. Barnstaple when she had found that he had
escaped the fate of the other Earthlings and she had not troubled
very greatly about the particulars of that fate. She had avoided
thinking about it.

"But where are they? Where have they gone?"

She did not know.

She conveyed to him haltingly and imperfectly her own halting and
unsympathetic ideas of these new discoveries that had inflamed the
Utopian imagination. The crucial moment had been the experiment of
Arden and Greenlake that had brought the Earthlings into Utopia.
That had been the first rupture of the hitherto invincible barriers
that had held their universe in three spatial dimensions. That
had opened these abysses. That had been the moment of release for
all the new work that now filled Utopia. That had been the first
achievement of practical results from an intricate network of theory
and deduction. It sent Mr. Barnstaple's mind back to the humbler
discoveries of earth, to Franklin snapping the captive lightning
from his kite and Galvani, with his dancing frog's legs, puzzling
over the miracle that brought electricity into the service of men.
But it had taken a century and a half for electricity to make any
sensible changes in human life because the earthly workers were so
few and the ways of the world so obstructive and slow and spiteful.
In Utopia to make a novel discovery was to light an intellectual
conflagration. Hundreds of thousands of experimentalists in free
and open co-operation were now working along the fruitful lines
that Arden and Greenlake had made manifest. Every day, every hour
now, new and hitherto fantastic possibilities of interspatial
relationship were being made plain to the Utopians.

Mr. Barnstaple rubbed his head and eyes with both hands and then lay
back, blinking at the great valley below him, growing slowly golden
as the sun sank. He felt himself to be the most secure and stable of
beings at the very centre of a sphere of glowing serenity. And that
effect of an immense tranquillity was a delusion; that still evening
peace, was woven of incredible billions of hurrying and clashing
atoms.

All the peace and fixity that man has ever known or will ever know
is but the smoothness of the face of a torrent that flies along with
incredible speed from cataract to cataract. Time was when men could
talk of everlasting hills. To-day a schoolboy knows that they
dissolve under the frost and wind and rain and pour seaward, day by
day and hour by hour. Time was when men could speak of Terra Firma
and feel the earth fixed, adamantine beneath their feet. Now they
know that it whirls through space eddying about a spinning, blindly
driven sun amidst a sheeplike drift of stars. And this fair curtain
of appearance before the eyes of Mr. Barnstaple, this still and
level flush of sunset and the great cloth of starry space that hung
behind the blue; that too was now to be pierced and torn and rent
asunder....

The extended fingers of his mind closed on the things that concerned
him most.

"But where are my people?" he asked. "Where are their bodies? Is it
just possible they are still alive?"

She could not tell him.

He lay thinking.... It was natural that he should be given into
the charge of a rather backward-minded woman. The active-minded here
had no more use for him in their lives than active-minded people on
earth have for pet animals. She did not want to think about these
spatial relations at all; the subject was too difficult for her; she
was one of Utopia's educational failures. She sat beside him with a
divine sweetness and tranquillity upon her face, and he felt his own
judgment upon her like a committed treachery. Yet he wanted to know
very badly the answer to his question.

He supposed the crest of Quarantine Crag had been twisted round and
flung off into some outer space. It was unlikely that this time
the Earthlings would strike a convenient planet again. In all
probability they had been turned off into the void, into the
interstellar space of some unknown universe....

What would happen then? They would freeze. The air would instantly
diffuse right out of them, Their own gravitation would flatten them
out, crush them together, collapse them! At least they would have no
time to suffer. A gasp, like someone flung into ice-cold water....

He contemplated these possibilities.

"Flung out!" he said aloud. "Like a cageful of mice thrown over the
side of a ship!"

"I don't understand," said Lychnis, turning to him.

He appealed to her. "And now--tell me. What is to become of me?"


Section 4

For a time Lychnis gave him no answer. She sat with her soft eyes
upon the blue haze into which the great river valley had now
dissolved. Then she turned to him with a question:

"You want to stay in this world?"

"Surely any Earthling would want to stay in this world. My body has
been purified. Why should I not stay?"

"It seems a good world to you?"

"Loveliness, order, health, energy and wonder; it has all the good
things for which my world groans and travails."

"And yet our world is not content."

"I could be contented."

"You are tired and weak still."

"In this air I could grow strong and vigorous. I could almost grow
young in this world. In years, as you count them here, I am still a
young man."

Again she was silent for a time. The mighty lap of the landscape
was filled now with indistinguishable blue, and beyond the black
silhouettes of the trees upon the hillside only the skyline of the
hills was visible against the yellow green and pale yellow of the
evening sky. Never had Mr. Barnstaple seen so peaceful a nightfall.
But her words denied that peace. "Here," she said, "there is no
rest. Every day men and women awake and say: What new thing shall
we do to-day? What shall we change?"

"They have changed a wild planet of disease and disorder into a
sphere of beauty and safety. They have made the wilderness of human
motives bear union and knowledge and power."

"And research never rests, and curiosity and the desire for more
power and still more power consumes all our world."

"A healthy appetite. I am tired now, as weak and weary and soft
as though I had just been born; but presently when I have grown
stronger I too may share in that curiosity and take a part in
these great discoveries that now set Utopia astir. Who knows?"

He smiled at her kind eyes.

"You will have much to learn," she said.

She seemed to measure her own failure as she said these words.

Some sense of the profound differences that three thousand years
of progress might have made in the fundamental ideas and ways
of thinking of the race dawned upon Mr. Barnstaple's mind. He
remembered that in Utopia he heard only the things he could
understand, and that all that found no place in his terrestrial
circle of ideas was inaudible to his mind. The gulfs of
misunderstanding might be wider and deeper than he was assuming.
A totally illiterate Gold Coast negro trying to master
thermo-electricity would have set himself a far more hopeful task.

"After all it is not the new discoveries that I want to share," he
said; "quite possibly they are altogether beyond me; it is this
perfect, beautiful daily life, this life of all the dreams of my
own time come true, that I want. I just want to be alive here. That
will be enough for me."

"You are weak and tired yet," said Lychnis. "When you are stronger
you may face other ideas."

"But what other ideas--?"

"Your mind may turn back to your own world and your own life."

"Go back to earth!"

Lychnis looked out at the twilight again for a while before she
turned to him with, "You are an Earthling born and made. What else
can you be?"

"What else can I be?" Mr. Barnstaple's mind rested upon that, and he
lay feeling rather than thinking amidst its implications as the
pinpoint lights of Utopia pricked the darkling blue below and ran
into chains and groups and coalesced into nebulous patches.

He resisted the truth below her words. This glorious world of
Utopia, perfect and assured, poised ready for tremendous adventures
amidst untravelled universes, was a world of sweet giants and
uncompanionable beauty, a world of enterprises in which a poor
muddy-witted, weak-willed Earthling might neither help nor share.
They had plundered their planet as one empties a purse; they thrust
out their power amidst the stars.... They were kind. They were
very kind.... But they were different....



CHAPTER THE SECOND

A LOITERER IN A LIVING WORLD


Section 1

In a few days Mr. Barnstaple had recovered strength of body and
mind. He no longer lay in bed in a loggia, filled with self-pity
and the beauty of a world subdued; he went about freely and was
soon walking long distances over the Utopian countryside, seeking
acquaintances and learning more and more of this wonderland of
accomplished human desires.

For that is how it most impressed him. Nearly all the greater evils
of human life had been conquered; war, pestilence and malaise,
famine and poverty had been swept out of human experience. The
dreams of artists, of perfected and lovely bodies and of a world
transfigured to harmony and beauty had been realized; the spirits
of order and organization ruled triumphant. Every aspect of human
life had been changed by these achievements.

The climate of this Valley of Rest was bland and sunny like the
climate of South Europe, but nearly everything characteristic of the
Italian or Spanish scene had gone. Here were no bent and aged crones
carrying burthens, no chattering pursuit by beggars, no ragged
workers lowering by the wayside. The puny terracing, the distressing
accumulations of hand cultivation, the gnarled olives, hacked vines,
the little patches of grain or fruit, and the grudged litigious
irrigation of those primitive conditions, gave place to sweeping
schemes of conservation, to a broad and subtle handling of slope
and soil and sunshine. No meagre goats nor sheep, child-tended,
cropped among the stones, no tethered cattle ate their apportioned
circles of herbage and no more. There were no hovels by the
wayside, no shrines with tortured, blood-oozing images, no slinking
mis-begotten curs nor beaten beasts sweating and panting between
their overloaded paniers at the steeper places of rutted,
rock-strewn and dung-strewn roads. Instead the great smooth
indestructible ways swept in easy gradients through the land,
leaping gorges and crossing valleys upon wide-arched viaducts,
piercing cathedral-like aisles through the hillsides, throwing off
bastions to command some special splendour of the land. Here were
resting places and shelters, stairways clambering to pleasant
arbours and summer-houses where friends might talk and lovers
shelter and rejoice. Here were groves and avenues of such trees as
he had never seen before. For on earth as yet there is scarcely such
a thing as an altogether healthy fully grown tree, nearly all our
trees are bored and consumed by parasites, rotten and tumorous with
fungi, more gnarled and crippled and disease-twisted even than
mankind.

The landscape had absorbed the patient design of five-and-twenty
centuries. In one place Mr. Barnstaple found great works in
progress; a bridge was being replaced, not because it was outworn,
but because someone had produced a bolder, more delightful design.

For a time he did not observe the absence of telephonic or
telegraphic communication; the posts and wires that mark a modern
countryside had disappeared. The reasons for that difference he
was to learn later. Nor did he at first miss the railway, the
railway station and the wayside inn. He perceived that the frequent
buildings must have specific functions, that people came and went
from them with an appearance of interest and preoccupation, that
from some of them seemed to come a hum and whir of activity; work
of many sorts was certainly in progress; but his ideas of the
mechanical organization of this new world were too vague and
tentative as yet for him to attempt to fix any significance to this
sort of place or that. He walked agape like a savage in a garden.

He never came to nor saw any towns. The reason for any such close
accumulations of human beings had largely disappeared. In certain
places, he learnt, there were gatherings of people for studies,
mutual stimulation, or other convenient exchanges, in great series
of communicating buildings; but he never visited any of these
centres.

And about this world went the tall people of Utopia, fair and
wonderful, smiling or making some friendly gesture as they passed
him but giving him little chance for questions or intercourse. They
travelled swiftly in machines upon the high road or walked, and ever
and again the shadow of a silent soaring aeroplane would pass over
him. He went a little in awe of these people and felt himself a
queer creature when he met their eyes. For like the gods of Greece
and Rome theirs was a cleansed and perfected humanity, and it seemed
to him that they were gods. Even the great tame beasts that walked
freely about this world had a certain divinity that checked the
expression of Mr. Barnstaple's friendliness.


Section 2

Presently he found a companion for his rambles, a boy of thirteen, a
cousin of Lychnis, named Crystal. He was a curly-headed youngster,
brown-eyed as she was; and he was reading history in a holiday stage
of his education.

So far as Mr. Barnstaple could gather the more serious part of
his intellectual training was in mathematical work interrelated
to physical and chemical science, but all that was beyond an
Earthling's range of ideas. Much of this work seemed to be done in
co-operation with other boys, and to be what we should call research
on earth. Nor could Mr. Barnstaple master the nature of some other
sort of study which seemed to turn upon refinements of expression.
But the history brought them together. The boy was just learning
about the growth of the Utopian social system out of the efforts
and experiences of the Ages of Confusion. His imagination was alive
with the tragic struggles upon which the present order of Utopia
was founded, he had a hundred questions for Mr. Barnstaple, and he
was full of explicit information which was destined presently to
sink down and become part of the foundations of his adult mind.
Mr. Barnstaple was as good as a book to him, and he was as good as
a guide to Mr. Barnstaple. They went about together talking upon
a footing of the completest equality, this rather exceptionally
intelligent Earthling and this Utopian stripling, who topped him
by perhaps an inch when they stood side by side.

The boy had the broad facts of Utopian history at his fingers' ends.
He could explain and find an interest in explaining how artificial
and upheld the peace and beauty of Utopia still were. Utopians were
in essence, he said, very much what their ancestors had been in
the beginnings of the newer stone-age, fifteen thousand or twenty
thousand years ago. They were still very much what Earthlings had
been in the corresponding period. Since then there had been only
six hundred or seven hundred generations and no time for any very
fundamental changes in the race. There had not been even a general
admixture of races. On Utopia as on earth there had been dusky
and brown peoples, and they remained distinct. The various races
mingled socially but did not interbreed very much; rather they
purified and intensified their racial gifts and beauties. There
was often very passionate love between people of contrasted race,
but rarely did such love come to procreation. There had been a
certain deliberate elimination of ugly, malignant, narrow, stupid
and gloomy types during the past dozen centuries or so; but except
for the fuller realization of his latent possibilities, the common
man in Utopia was very little different from the ordinary energetic
and able people of a later stone-age or early bronze-age community.
They were infinitely better nourished, trained and educated, and
mentally and physically their condition was clean and fit, but they
were the same flesh and nature as we are.

"But," said Mr. Barnstaple, and struggled with that idea for a
time. "Do you mean to tell me that half the babies born on earth
to-day might grow to be such gods as these people I meet?"

"Given our air, given our atmosphere."

"Given your heritage."

"Given our freedom."

In the past of Utopia, in the Age of Confusion, Mr. Barnstaple had
to remember, everyone had grown up with a crippled or a thwarted
will, hampered by vain restrictions or misled by plausible
delusions. Utopia still bore it in mind that human nature was
fundamentally animal and savage and had to be adapted to social
needs, but Utopia had learnt the better methods of adaptation--after
endless failures of compulsion, cruelty and deception. "On earth we
tame our animals with hot irons and our fellow men by violence
and fraud," said Mr. Barnstaple, and described the schools and
books, newspapers and public discussions of the early twentieth
century to his incredulous companion. "You cannot imagine how beaten
and fearful even decent people are upon earth. You learn of the
Age of Confusion in your histories but you do not know what the
realities of a bad mental atmosphere, an atmosphere of feeble laws,
hates and superstitions, are. As night goes round the earth always
there are hundreds of thousands of people who should be sleeping,
lying awake, fearing a bully, fearing a cruel competition, dreading
lest they cannot make good, ill of some illness they cannot
comprehend, distressed by some irrational quarrel, maddened by some
thwarted instinct or some suppressed and perverted desire."...

Crystal admitted that it was hard to think now of the Age of
Confusion in terms of misery. Much of the every-day misery of earth
was now inconceivable. Very slowly Utopia had evolved its present
harmony of law and custom and education. Man was no longer crippled
and compelled; it was recognized that he was fundamentally an animal
and that his daily life must follow the round of appetites satisfied
and instincts released. The daily texture of Utopian life was
woven of various and interesting foods and drinks, of free and
entertaining exercise and work, of sweet sleep and of the interest
and happiness of fearless and spiteless love-making. Inhibition was
at a minimum. But where the power of Utopian education began was
after the animal had been satisfied and disposed of. The jewel on
the reptile's head that had brought Utopia out of the confusions of
human life, was curiosity, the play impulse, prolonged and expanded
in adult life into an insatiable appetite for knowledge and an
habitual creative urgency. All Utopians had become as little
children, learners and makers.

It was strange to hear this boy speaking so plainly and clearly
of the educational process to which he was being subjected, and
particularly to find he could talk so frankly of love.

An earthly bashfulness almost prevented Mr. Barnstaple from asking,
"But you-- You do not make love?"

"I have had curiosities," said the boy, evidently saying what he had
been taught to say. "But it is not necessary nor becoming to make
love too early in life nor to let desire take hold of one. It
weakens youth to become too early possessed by desire--which often
will not leave one again. It spoils and cripples the imagination.
I want to do good work as my father has done before me."

Mr. Barnstaple glanced at the beautiful young profile at his side
and was suddenly troubled by memories of a certain study number four
at school, and of some ugly phases of his adolescence, the stuffy,
secret room, the hot and ugly fact. He felt a beastlier Earthling
than ever. "Heigho!" he sighed. "But this world of yours is as clean
as starlight and as sweet as cold water on a dusty day."

"Many people I love," said the boy, "but not with passion. Some day
that will come. But one must not be too eager and anxious to meet
passionate love or one might make-believe and give or snatch at a
sham.... There is no hurry. No one will prevent me when my time
comes. All good things come to one in this world in their own good
time."

But work one does not wait for; one's work, since it concerns one's
own self only, one goes to meet. Crystal thought very much about the
work that he might do. It seemed to Mr. Barnstaple that work, in the
sense of uncongenial toil, had almost disappeared from Utopia. Yet
all Utopia was working. Everyone was doing work that fitted natural
aptitudes and appealed to the imagination of the worker. Everyone
worked happily and eagerly--as those people we call geniuses do on
our earth.

For suddenly Mr. Barnstaple found himself telling Crystal of the
happiness of the true artist, of the true scientific worker, of
the original man even on earth as it is to-day. They, too, like
the Utopians, do work that concerns themselves and is in their own
nature for great ends. Of all Earthlings they are the most enviable.

"If such men are not happy on earth," said Mr. Barnstaple, "it is
because they are touched with vulgarity and still heed the soiled
successes and honours and satisfactions of vulgar men, still feel
neglect and limitation that should concern them no more. But to him
who has seen the sun shine in Utopia surely the utmost honour and
glory of earth can signify no more and be no more desirable than
the complimentary spittle of the chieftain and a string of barbaric
beads."


Section 3

Crystal was still of an age to be proud of his savoir faire. He
showed Mr. Barnstaple his books and told him of his tutors and
exercises.

Utopia still made use of printed books; books were still the
simplest, clearest way of bringing statement before a tranquil mind.
Crystal's books were very beautifully bound in flexible leather that
his mother had tooled for him very prettily, and they were made of
hand-made paper. The lettering was some fluent phonetic script that
Mr. Barnstaple could not understand. It reminded him of Arabic; and
frequent sketches, outline maps and diagrams were interpolated.
Crystal was advised in his holiday reading by a tutor for whom he
prepared a sort of exercise report, and he supplemented his reading
by visits to museums; but there was no educational museum convenient
in the Valley of Peace for Mr. Barnstaple to visit.

Crystal had passed out of the opening stage of education which was
carried on, he said, upon large educational estates given up wholly
to the lives of children. Education up to eleven or twelve seemed
to be much more carefully watched and guarded and taken care of in
Utopia than upon earth. Shocks to the imagination, fear and evil
suggestions were warded off as carefully as were infection and
physical disaster; by eight or nine the foundations of a Utopian
character were surely laid, habits of cleanliness, truth, candour
and helpfulness, confidence in the world, fearlessness and a sense
of belonging to the great purpose of the race.

Only after nine or ten did the child go outside the garden of its
early growth and begin to see the ordinary ways of the world. Until
that age the care of the children was largely in the hands of
nurses and teachers, but after that time the parents became more
of a factor than they had been in a youngster's life. It was always
a custom for the parents of a child to be near and to see that
child in its nursery days, but just when earthly parents tended to
separate from their children as they went away to school or went
into business, Utopian parentage grew to be something closer. There
was an idea in Utopia that between parent and child there was a
necessary temperamental sympathy; children looked forward to the
friendship and company of their parents, and parents looked forward
to the interest of their children's adolescence, and though a parent
had practically no power over a son or daughter, he or she took
naturally the position of advocate, adviser and sympathetic friend.
The friendship was all the franker and closer because of that lack
of power, and all the easier because age for age the Utopians were
so much younger and fresher-minded than Earthlings. Crystal it
seemed had a very great passion for his mother. He was very proud of
his father, who was a wonderful painter and designer; but it was his
mother who possessed the boy's heart.

On his second walk with Mr. Barnstaple he said he was going to hear
from his mother, and Mr. Barnstaple was shown the equivalent of
correspondence in Utopia. Crystal carried a little bundle of wires
and light rods; and presently coming to a place where a pillar
stood in the midst of a lawn he spread this affair out like a long
cat's cradle and tapped a little stud in the pillar with a key that
he carried on a light gold chain about his neck. Then he took up a
receiver attached to his apparatus, and spoke aloud and listened
and presently heard a voice.

It was a very pleasant woman's voice; it talked to Crystal for a
time without interruption, and then Crystal talked back, and
afterwards there were other voices, some of which Crystal answered
and some which he heard without replying. Then he gathered up his
apparatus again.

This Mr. Barnstaple learnt was the Utopian equivalent of letter and
telephone. For in Utopia, except by previous arrangement, people do
not talk together on the telephone. A message is sent to the station
of the district in which the recipient is known to be, and there
it waits until he chooses to tap his accumulated messages. And
any that one wishes to repeat can be repeated. Then he talks back
to the senders and dispatches any other messages he wishes. The
transmission is wireless. The little pillars supply electric power
for transmission or for any other purpose the Utopians require.
For example, the gardeners resort to them to run their mowers and
diggers and rakes and rollers.

Far away across the valley Crystal pointed out the district station
at which this correspondence gathered and was dispersed. Only a few
people were on duty there; almost all the connexions were automatic.
The messages came and went from any part of the planet.

This set Mr. Barnstaple going upon a long string of questions.

He discovered for the first time that the message organization of
Utopia had a complete knowledge of the whereabouts of every soul
upon the planet. It had a record of every living person and it knew
in what message district he was. Everyone was indexed and noted.

To Mr. Barnstaple, accustomed to the crudities and dishonesties of
earthly governments, this was an almost terrifying discovery. "On
earth that would be the means of unending blackmail and tyranny,"
he said. "Everyone would lie open to espionage. We had a fellow at
Scotland Yard. If he had been in your communication department would
have made life in Utopia intolerable in week. You cannot imagine the
nuisance he was."...

Mr. Barnstaple had to explain to Crystal what blackmail meant. It
was like that in Utopia to begin with, Crystal said. Just as on
earth so in Utopia there was the same natural disposition to use
knowledge and power to the disadvantage of one's fellows, and the
same jealousy of having one's personal facts known. In the stone-age
in Utopia men kept their true names secret and could only be spoken
of by nicknames. They feared magic abuses. "Some savages still do
that on earth," said Mr. Barnstaple. It was only very slowly
that Utopians came to trust doctors and dentists and only very
slowly that doctors and dentists became trustworthy. It was a matter
of scores of centuries before the chief abuses of the confidences
and trusts necessary to a modern social organization could be
effectively corrected.

Every young Utopian had to learn the Five Principles of Liberty,
without which civilization is impossible. The first was the
Principle of Privacy. This is that all individual personal facts are
private between the citizen and the public organization to which he
entrusts them, and can be used only for his convenience and with his
sanction. Of course all such facts are available for statistical
uses, but not as individual personal facts. And the second principle
is the Principle of Free Movement. A citizen, subject to the due
discharge of his public obligations, may go without permission or
explanation to any part of the Utopian planet. All the means of
transport are freely at his service. Every Utopian may change his
surroundings, his climate and his social atmosphere as he will. The
third principle is the Principle of Unlimited Knowledge. All that
is known in Utopia, except individual personal facts about living
people, is on record and as easily available as a perfected series
of indices, libraries, museums and inquiry offices can make it.
Whatever the Utopian desires to know he may know with the utmost
clearness, exactness and facility so far as his powers of knowing
and his industry go. Nothing is kept from him and nothing is
misrepresented to him. And that brought Mr. Barnstaple to the fourth
Principle of Liberty, which was that Lying is the Blackest Crime.

Crystal's definition of Lying was a sweeping one; the inexact
statement of facts, even the suppression of a material fact, was
lying.

"Where there are lies there cannot be freedom."

Mr. Barnstaple was mightily taken by this idea. It seemed at once
quite fresh to him and one that he had always unconsciously
entertained. Half the difference between Utopia and our world he
asserted lay in this, that our atmosphere was dense and poisonous
with lies and shams.888

"When one comes to think of it," said Mr. Barnstaple, and began to
expatiate to Crystal upon all the falsehoods of human life. The
fundamental assumptions of earthly associations were still largely
lies, false assumptions of necessary and unavoidable differences in
flags and nationality, pretences of function and power in monarchy;
impostures of organized learning, religious and moral dogmas
and shams. And one must live in it; one is a part of it. You are
restrained, taxed, distressed and killed by these insane unrealities.
"Lying the Primary Crime! How simple that is! how true and
necessary it is! That dogma is the fundamental distinction of the
scientific world-state from all preceding states." And going on from
that Mr. Barnstaple launched out into a long and loud tirade against
the suppression and falsifications of earthly newspapers.

It was a question very near his heart. The London newspapers
had ceased to be impartial vehicles of news; they omitted, they
mutilated, they misstated. They were no better than propaganda
rags. Rags! Nature, within its field, was shiningly accurate and
full, but that was a purely scientific paper; it did not touch the
every-day news. The Press, he held, was the only possible salt of
contemporary life, and if the salt had lost its savour--!

The poor man found himself orating as though he was back at his
Sydenham breakfast-table after a bad morning's paper.

"Once upon a time Utopia was in just such a tangle," said Crystal
consolingly. "But there is a proverb, 'Truth comes back where once
she has visited.' You need not trouble so much as you do. Some day
even your press may grow clear."

"How do _you_ manage about newspapers and criticism?" said Mr.
Barnstaple.

Crystal explained that there was a complete distinction between news
and discussion in Utopia. There were houses--one was in sight--which
were used as reading-rooms. One went to these places to learn the
news. Thither went the reports of all the things that were happening
on the planet, things found, things discovered, things done. The
reports were made as they were needed; there were no advertisement
contracts to demand the same bulk of news every day. For some time
Crystal said the reports had been very full and amusing about the
Earthlings, but he had not been reading the paper for many days
because of the interest in history the Earthling affair had aroused
in him. There was always news of fresh scientific discoveries that
stirred the imagination. One frequent item of public interest and
excitement was the laying out of some wide scheme of research. The
new spatial work that Arden and Greenlake had died for was producing
much news. And when people died in Utopia it was the custom to tell
the story of their lives. Crystal promised to take Mr. Barnstaple
to a news place and entertain him by reading him some of the
Utopian descriptions of earthly life which had been derived from
the Earthlings, and Mr. Barnstaple asked that when this was done he
might also hear about Arden and Greenlake, who had been not only
great discoverers, but great lovers, and of Serpentine and Cedar,
for whom he had conceived an intense admiration. Utopian news lacked
of course the high spice of an earthly newspaper; the intriguing
murders and amusing misbehaviours, the entertaining and exciting
consequences of sexual ignorance and sexual blunderings, the libel
cases and detected swindles, the great processional movements of
Royalty across the general traffic, and the romantic fluctuations
of the stock exchange and sport. But where the news of Utopia
lacked liveliness, the liveliness of discussion made up for it.
For the Fifth Principle of Liberty in Utopia was Free Discussion
and Criticism.

Any Utopian was free to criticize and discuss anything in the whole
universe provided he told no lies about it directly or indirectly;
he could be as respectful or disrespectful as he pleased; he could
propose anything however subversive. He could break into poetry or
fiction as he chose. He could express himself in any literary form
he liked or by sketch or caricature as the mood took him. Only he
must refrain from lying; that was the one rigid rule of controversy.
He could get what he had to say printed and distributed to the news
rooms. There it was read or neglected as the visitors chanced to
approve of it or not. Often if they liked what they read they would
carry off a copy with them. Crystal had some new fantastic fiction
about the exploration of space among his books; imaginative stories
that boys were reading very eagerly; they were pamphlets of thirty
or forty pages printed on a beautiful paper that he said was made
directly from flax and certain reeds. The librarians noted what
books and papers were read and taken away, and these they replaced
with fresh copies. The piles that went unread were presently reduced
to one or two copies and the rest went back to the pulping mills.
But many of the poets and philosophers, and story-tellers whose
imaginations found no wide popularity were nevertheless treasured
and their memories kept alive by a few devoted admirers.


Section 4

"I am not at all clear in my mind about one thing," said Mr.
Barnstaple. "I have seen no coins and nothing like money passing in
this world. By all outward appearance this might be a Communism such
as was figured in a book we used to value on earth, a book called
News from Nowhere by an Earthling named William Morris. It was a
graceful impossible book. In that dream everyone worked for the
joy of working and took what he needed. But I have never believed
in Communism because I recognize, as here in Utopia you seem to
recognize, the natural fierceness and greediness of the untutored
man. There is joy in creation for others to use, but no natural joy
in unrequited service. The sense of justice to himself is greater
in man than the sense of service. Somehow here you must balance the
work anyone does for Utopia against what he destroys or consumes.
How do you do it?"

Crystal considered. "There were Communists in Utopia in the Last Age
of Confusion. In some parts of our planet they tried to abolish
money suddenly and violently and brought about great economic
confusion and want and misery. To step straight to communism
failed--very tragically. And yet Utopia to-day is practically a
communism, and except by way of curiosity I have never had a coin in
my hand in all my life."

In Utopia just as upon earth, he explained, money came as a great
discovery; as a method of freedom. Hitherto, before the invention of
money, all service between man and man had been done through bondage
or barter. Life was a thing of slavery and narrow choice. But money
opened up the possibility of giving a worker a free choice in his
reward. It took Utopia three thousand years and more to realize that
possibility. The idea of money abounded in pitfalls and was easily
corruptible; Utopia floundered its way to economic lucidity through
long centuries of credit and debt, false and debased money;
extravagant usury and every possibility of speculative abuse. In
the matter of money more than in any other human concern, human
cunning has set itself most vilely and treacherously to prey upon
human necessity. Utopia once carried, as earth carries now, a
load of parasitic souls, speculators, forestallers, gamblers and
bargain-pressing Shylocks, exacting every conceivable advantage
out of the weaknesses of the monetary system; she had needed
centuries of economic sanitation. It was only when Utopia had got
to the beginnings of world-wide political unity and when there
were sufficiently full statistics of world resources and world
production, that human society could at last give the individual
worker the assurance of a coin of steadfast significance, a coin
that would mean for him to-day or to-morrow or at any time the
certainty of a set quantity of elemental values. And with peace
throughout the planet and increasing social stability, interest,
which is the measure of danger and uncertainty, dwindled at last to
nothing. Banking became a public service perforce, because it no
longer offered profit to the individual banker. "Rentier classes,"
Crystal conveyed, "are not a permanent element in any community.
They mark a phase of transition between a period of insecurity and
high interest and a period of complete security and no interest.
They are a dawn phenomenon."

Mr. Barnstaple digested this statement after an interval of
incredulity. He satisfied himself by a few questions that young
Utopia really had some idea of what a rentier class was, what its
moral and imaginative limitations were likely to be and the role it
may have played in the intellectual development of the world by
providing a class of independent minds.

"Life is intolerant of all independent classes," said Crystal,
evidently repeating an axiom. "Either you must earn or you must
rob.... We have got rid of robbing."

The youngster still speaking by his book went on to explain how the
gradual disuse of money came about. It was an outcome of the general
progressive organization of the economic system, the substitution of
collective enterprises for competitive enterprises and of wholesale
for retail dealing. There had been a time in Utopia when money
changed hands at each little transaction and service. One paid money
if one wanted a newspaper or a match or a bunch of flowers or a
ride on a street conveyance. Everybody went about the world with
pockets full of small coins paying on every slight occasion. Then
as economic science became more stable and exact the methods of the
club and the covering subscription extended. People were able to buy
passes that carried them by all the available means of transport for
a year or for ten years or for life. The State learnt from clubs and
hotels provide matches, newspapers, stationery and transport for
a fixed annual charge. The same inclusive system spread from small
and incidental things great and essential matters, to housing and
food and even clothing. The State postal system knew where every
Utopian citizen was, was presently able in conjunction with the
public banking system to guarantee his credit in any part of the
world. People ceased to draw coin for their work; the various
departments of service, and of economic, educational and scientific
activity would credit the individual with his earnings in the public
bank an debit him with his customary charges for all the normal
services of life.

"Something of this sort is going on on earth even now," said Mr.
Barnstaple. "We use money in the last resort, but a vast volume of
our business is already a matter of book-keeping."

Centuries of unity and energy had given Utopia very complete control
of many fountains of natural energy upon the planet, and this was the
heritage of every child born therein. He was credited at his birth
with a sum sufficient to educate and maintain him up to four- or
five-and-twenty, and then he was expected to choose some occupation
to replenish his account.

"But if he doesn't?" said Mr. Barnstaple.

"Everyone does."

"But if he didn't?"

"He'd be miserable and uncomfortable. I've never heard of such a
case. I suppose he'd be discussed. Psychologists might examine
him.... But one must do something."

"But suppose Utopia had no work for him to do?"

Crystal could not imagine that. "There is always something to be
done."

"But in Utopia once, in the old times, you had unemployment?"

"That was part of the Confusion. There was a sort of hypertrophy
of debt; it had become paralysis. Why, when they had unemployment
at that same time there was neither enough houses nor food nor
clothing. They had unemployment and shortage at one and the same
time. It is incredible."

"Does everyone earn about the same amount of pay?"

"Energetic and creative people are often given big grants if they
seem to need the help of others or a command of natural resources....
And artists sometimes grow rich if their work is much desired."

"Such a gold chain as yours you had to buy?"

"From the maker in his shop. My mother bought it."

"Then there are shops?"

"You shall see some. Places where people go to see new and
delightful things."

"And if an artist grows rich, what can he do with his money?"

"Take time and material to make some surpassingly beautiful thing to
leave the world. Or collect and help with the work of other artists.
Or do whatever else he pleases to teach and fine the common sense of
beauty in Utopia. Or just do nothing.... Utopia can afford it--if he
can."


Section 5

"Cedar and Lion," said Mr. Barnstaple, "explained to the rest of us
how it is that your government is as it were broken up and dispersed
among the people who have special knowledge of the matters
involved. The balance between interests, we gathered, was maintained
by those who studied the general psychology and the educational
organization of Utopia. At first it was very strange to our earthly
minds that there should be nowhere a pretended omniscience and a
practical omnipotence, that is to say a sovereign thing, a person
or an assembly whose fiat was final. Mr. Burleigh and Mr. Catskill
thought that such a thing was absolutely necessary, and so, less
surely, did I. 'Who will decide?' was their riddle. They expected
to be taken to see the President or the Supreme Council of Utopia. I
suppose it seems to you the most natural of things that there should
be nothing of the sort, and that a question should go simply and
naturally to the man who knows best about it."

"Subject to free criticism," said Crystal.

"Subject to the same process that has made him eminent and
responsible. But don't people thrust themselves forward even
here--out of vanity? And don't people get thrust forward in front
of the best--out of spite?"

"There is plenty of spite and vanity in every Utopian soul," said
Crystal. "But people speak very plainly and criticism is very
searching and free. So that we learn to search our motives before
we praise or question."

"What you say and do shows up here plainly at its true value," said
Mr. Barnstaple. "You cannot throw mud in the noise and darkness
unchallenged or get a false claim acknowledged in the disorder."

"Some years ago there was a man, an artist, who made a great trouble
about the work of my father. Often artistic criticism is very bitter
here, but he was bitter beyond measure. He caricatured my father
and abused him incessantly. He followed him from place to place. He
tried to prevent the allocation of material to him. He was quite
ineffective. Some people answered him, but for the most part he was
disregarded...."

The boy stopped short.

"Well?"

"He killed himself. He could not escape from his own foolishness.
Everyone knew what he had said and done...."

"But in the past there were kings and councils and conferences in
Utopia," said Mr. Barnstaple, returning to the main point.

"My books teach me that our state could have grown up in no other
way. We had to have these general dealers in human relationship,
politicians and lawyers, as a necessary stage in political and
social development. Just as we had to have soldiers and policemen
to save people from mutual violence. It was only very slowly that
politicians and lawyers came to admit the need for special knowledge
in the things they had to do. Politicians would draw boundaries
without any proper knowledge of ethnology or economic geography, and
lawyers decide about will and purpose with the crudest knowledge
of psychology. They produced the most preposterous and unworkable
arrangements in the gravest fashion."

"Like Tristram Shandy's parish bull--which set about begetting the
peace of the world at Versailles," said Mr. Barnstaple.

Crystal looked puzzled.

"A complicated allusion to a purely earthly matter," said Mr.
Barnstaple. "This complete diffusion of the business of politics
and law among the people with knowledge, is one of the most
interesting things of all to me in this world. Such a diffusion
is beginning upon earth. The people who understand world-health
for instance are dead against political and legal methods, and so
are many of our best economists. And most people never go into a
law court, and wouldn't dream of doing so upon business of their
own, from their cradles to their graves. What became of your
politicians and lawyers? Was there a struggle?"

"As light grew and intelligence spread they became more and more
evidently unnecessary. They met at last only to appoint men of
knowledge as assessors and so forth, and after a time even these
appointments became foregone conclusions. Their activities melted
into the general body of criticism and discussion. In places there
are still old buildings that used to be council chambers and law
courts. The last politician to be elected to a legislative assembly
died in Utopia about a thousand years ago. He was an eccentric and
garrulous old gentleman; he was the only candidate and one man voted
for him, and he insisted upon assembling in solitary state and
having all his speeches and proceedings taken down in shorthand.
Boys and girls who were learning stenography used to go to report
him. Finally he was dealt with as a mental case."

"And the last judge?"

"I have not learnt about the last judge," said Crystal. "I must ask
my tutor. I suppose there was one, but I suppose nobody asked him to
judge anything. So he probably got something more respectable to
do."


Section 6

"I begin to apprehend the daily life of this world," said Mr.
Barnstaple. "It is a life of demi-gods, very free, strongly
individualized, each following an individual bent, each contributing
to great racial ends. It is not only cleanly naked and sweet and
lovely but full of personal dignity. It is, I see, a practical
communism, planned and led up to through long centuries of education
and discipline and collectivist preparation. I had never thought
before that socialism could exalt and ennoble the individual and
individualism degrade him, but now I see plainly that here the thing
is proved. In this fortunate world--it is indeed the crown of all
its health and happiness--there is no Crowd. The old world, the
world to which I belong, was and in my universe alas still is, the
world of the Crowd, the world of that detestable crawling mass of
un-featured, infected human beings.

"You have never seen a Crowd, Crystal; and in all your happy life
you never will. You have never seen a Crowd going to a football
match or a race meeting or a bull-fight or a public execution or the
like crowd joy; you have never watched a Crowd wedge and stick in a
narrow place or hoot or howl in a crisis. You have never watched it
stream sluggishly along the streets to gape at a King, or yell for a
war, or yell quite equally for a peace. And you have never seen the
Crowd, struck by some Panic breeze, change from Crowd proper to Mob
and begin to smash and hunt. All the Crowd celebrations have gone
out of this world; all the Crowd's gods, there is no Turf here, no
Sport, no war demonstrations, no Coronations and Public Funerals, no
great shows, but only your little theatres.... Happy Crystal! who
will never see a Crowd!"

"But I have seen Crowds," said Crystal.

"Where?"

"I have seen cinematograph films of Crowds, photographed thirty
centuries ago and more. They are shown in our history museums. I
have seen Crowds streaming over downs after a great race meeting,
photographed from an aeroplane, and Crowds rioting in some public
square and being dispersed by the police. Thousands and thousands
of swarming people. But it is true what you say. There are no more
Crowds in Utopia. Crowds and the crowd-mind have gone for ever."


Section 7

When after some days Crystal had to return to his mathematical
studies, his departure left Mr. Barnstaple very lonely. He found no
other companion. Lychnis seemed always near him and ready to be with
him, but her want of active intellectual interests, so remarkable in
this world of vast intellectual activities, estranged him from her.
Other Utopians came and went, friendly, amused, polite, but intent
upon their own business. They would question him curiously, attend
perhaps to a question or so of his own, and depart with an air of
being called away.

Lychnis, he began to realize, was one of Utopia's failures. She was
a lingering romantic type and she cherished a great sorrow in her
heart. She had had two children whom she had loved passionately.
They were adorably fearless, and out of foolish pride she had urged
them to swim out to sea and they had been taken by a current and
drowned. Their father had been drowned in attempting their rescue
and Lychnis had very nearly shared their fate. She had been rescued.
But her emotional life had stopped short at that point, had, as it
were, struck an attitude and remained in it. Tragedy possessed
her. She turned her back on laughter and gladness and looked for
distress. She had rediscovered the lost passion of pity, first pity
for herself and then a desire to pity others. She took no interest
any more in vigorous and complete people, but her mind concentrated
upon the consolation to be found in consoling pain and distress in
others. She sought her healing in healing them. She did not want to
talk to Mr. Barnstaple of the brightness of Utopia; she wanted him
to talk to her of the miseries of earth and of his own miseries.
That she might sympathize. But he would not tell her of his own
miseries because indeed, such was his temperament, he had none;
he had only exasperations and regrets.

She dreamt, he perceived, of being able to come to earth and give
her beauty and tenderness to the sick and poor. Her heart went out
to the spectacle of human suffering and weakness. It went out to
these things hungrily and desirously....

Before he detected the drift of her mind he told her many things
about human sickness and poverty. But he spoke of these matters not
with pity but indignation, as things that ought not to be. And when
he perceived how she feasted on these things he spoke of them hardly
and cheerfully as things that would presently be swept away. "But
they will still have suffered," she said....

Since she was always close at hand, she filled for him perhaps more
than her legitimate space in the Utopian spectacle. She lay across
it like a shadow. He thought very frequently about her and about the
pity and resentment against life and vigour that she embodied. In a
world of fear, weakness, infection, darkness and confusion, pity,
the act of charity, the alms and the refuge, the deed of stark
devotion, might show indeed like sweet and gracious presences; but
in this world of health and brave enterprises, pity betrayed itself
a vicious desire. Crystal, Utopian youth, was as hard as his name.
When he had slipped one day on some rocks and twisted and torn
his ankle, he had limped but he had laughed. When Mr. Barnstaple
was winded on a steep staircase Crystal was polite rather than
sympathetic. So Lychnis had found no confederate in the dedication
of her life to sorrow; even from Mr. Barnstaple she could win no
sympathy. He perceived that indeed so far as temperament went he was
a better Utopian than she was. To him as to Utopia it seemed rather
an occasion for gladness than sorrow that her man and her children
had met death fearlessly. They were dead; a brave stark death; the
waters still glittered and the sun still shone. But her loss had
revealed some underlying racial taint in her, something very ancient
in the species, something that Utopia was still breeding out only
very slowly, the dark sacrificial disposition that bows and responds
to the shadow. It was strange and yet perhaps it was inevitable that
Mr. Barnstaple should meet again in Utopia that spirit which earth
knows so well, the spirit that turns from the Kingdom of Heaven
to worship the thorns and the nails, which delights to represent
its God not as the Resurrection and the Life but as a woeful and
defeated cadaver.

She would talk to him of his sons as if she envied him because
of the loss of her own, but all she said reminded him of the
educational disadvantages and narrow prospects of his boys and how
much stouter and finer and happier their lives would have been in
Utopia. He would have risked drowning them a dozen times to have
saved them from being clerks and employees of other men. Even by
earthly standards he felt now that he had not done his best by them;
he had let many things drift in their lives and in the lives of
himself and his wife that he now felt he ought to have controlled.
Could he have his time over again he felt that he would see to it
that his sons took a livelier interest in politics and science and
were not so completely engulfed in the trivialities of suburban
life, in tennis playing, amateur theatricals, inane flirtations and
the like. They were good boys in substance he felt, but he had left
them to their mother; and he had left their mother too much to
herself instead of battling with her for the sake of his own ideas.
They were living trivially in the shadow of one great catastrophe
and with no security against another; they were living in a world
of weak waste and shabby insufficiency. And is own life also had
been--weak waste.

His life at Sydenham began to haunt him. "I criticized everything
but I altered nothing," he said. "I was as bad as Peeve. Was I any
more use in that world than I am in this? But on earth we are all
wasters...."

He avoided Lychnis for a day or so and wandered about the valley
alone. He went into a great reading-room and fingered books he could
not read; he was suffered to stand in a workshop, and he watched
an artist make a naked girl of gold more lovely than any earthly
statuette and melt her again dissatisfied; here he came upon men
building, and here was work upon the fields, here was a great shaft
in the hillside and something deep in the hill that flashed and
scintillated strangely; they would not let him go in to it; he saw
a thousand things he could not understand. He began to feel as
perhaps a very intelligent dog must sometimes feel in the world of
men, only that he had no master and no instincts that could find
a consolation in canine abjection. The Utopians went about their
business in the day-time, they passed him smiling and they filled
him with intolerable envy. They knew what to do. They belonged. They
went by in twos and threes in the evening, communing together and
sometimes singing together. Lovers would pass him, their sweetly
smiling faces close together, and his loneliness became an agony
of hopeless desires.

Because, though he fought hard to keep it below the threshold of
his consciousness, Mr. Barnstaple desired greatly to love and be
loved in Utopia. The realization that no one of these people could
ever conceive of any such intimacy of body or spirit with him was
a humiliation more fundamental even than his uselessness. The
loveliness of the Utopian girls and women who glanced at him
curiously or passed him with a serene indifference, crushed down
his self-respect and made the Utopian world altogether intolerable
to him. Mutely, unconsciously, these Utopian goddesses concentrated
upon him the uttermost abasement of caste and race inferiority.
He could not keep his thoughts from love where everyone it seemed
had a lover, and in this Utopian world love for him was a thing
grotesque and inconceivable....

Then one night as he lay awake distressed beyond measure by the
thought of such things, an idea came to him whereby it seemed to
him he might restore his self-respect and win a sort of citizenship
in Utopia.

So that they might even speak of him and remember him with interest
and sympathy.



CHAPTER THE THIRD

THE SERVICE OF THE EARTHLING


Section 1

The man to whom Mr. Barnstaple, after due inquiries, went to talk
was named Sungold. He was probably very old, because there were
lines of age about his eyes and over his fine brow. He was a ruddy
man, bearded with an auburn beard that had streaks of white, and his
eyes were brown and nimble under his thick eyebrows. His hair had
thinned but little and flowed back like a mane, but its copper-red
colour had gone. He sat at a table with papers spread before him,
making manuscript notes. He smiled at Mr. Barnstaple, for he had
been expecting him, and indicated a seat for him with his stout and
freckled hand. Then he waited smilingly for Mr. Barnstaple to begin.

"This world is one triumph of the desire for order and beauty in
men's minds," said Mr. Barnstaple. "But it will not tolerate one
useless soul in it. Everyone is happily active. Everyone but
myself.... I belong nowhere. I have nothing to do. And no one--is
related to me."

Sungold moved his head slightly to show that he understood.

"It is hard for an Earthling, with an earthly want of training,
to fall into any place here. Into any usual work or any usual
relationship. One is--a stranger.... But it is still harder to have
no place at all. In the new work, of which I am told you know most
of anyone and are indeed the centre and regulator, it has occurred
to me that I might be of some use, that I might indeed be as good
as a Utopian.... If so, I want to be of use. You may want someone
just to risk death--to take the danger of going into some strange
place--someone who desires to serve Utopia--and who need not have
skill or knowledge--or be a beautiful or able person?"

Mr. Barnstaple stopped short.

Sungold conveyed the completest understanding of all that was in
Mr. Barnstaple's mind.

Mr. Barnstaple sat interrogative while for a time Sungold thought.

Then words and phrases began to string themselves together in Mr.
Barnstaple's mind.

Sungold wondered if Mr. Barnstaple understood either the extent or
the limitations of the great discoveries that were now being made
in Utopia. Utopia, he said, was passing into a phase of intense
intellectual exaltation. New powers and possibilities intoxicated
the imagination of the race, and it was indeed inconceivable that an
unteachable and perplexed Earthling could be anything but distressed
and uncomfortable amidst the vast strange activities that must
now begin. Even many of their own people, the more backward
Utopians, were disturbed. For centuries Utopian philosophers and
experimentalists had been criticizing, revising and reconstructing
their former instinctive and traditional ideas of space and time, of
form and substance, and now very rapidly the new ways of thinking
were becoming clear and simple and bearing fruit in surprising
practical applications. The limitations of space which had seemed
for ever insurmountable were breaking down; they were breaking down
in a strange and perplexing way but they were breaking down. It was
now theoretically possible, it was rapidly becoming practicably
possible, to pass from the planet Utopia to which the race had
hitherto been confined, to other points in its universe of origin,
that is to say to remote planets and distant stars.... That was the
gist of the present situation.

"I cannot imagine that," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"You cannot imagine it," Sungold agreed, quite cordially. "But it is
so. A hundred years ago it was inconceivable--here."

"Do you get there by some sort of backstairs in another dimension?"
said Mr. Barnstaple.

Sungold considered this guess. It was a grotesque image, he said,
but from the point of view of an Earthling it would serve. That
conveyed something of its quality. But it was so much more
wonderful....

"A new and astounding phase has begun for life here. We learnt long
ago the chief secrets of happiness upon this planet. Life is good in
this world. You find it good?... For thousands of years yet it will
be our fastness and our home. But the wind of a new adventure blows
through our life. All this world is in a mood like striking camp in
the winter quarters when spring approaches."

He leant over his papers towards Mr. Barnstaple, and held up a
finger and spoke audible words as if to make his meaning plainer.
It seemed to Mr. Barnstaple that each word translated itself into
English as he spoke it. At any rate Mr. Barnstaple understood. "The
collision of our planet Utopia with your planet earth was a very
curious accident, but an unimportant accident, in this story. I
want you to understand that. Your universe and ours are two out of
a great number of gravitation-time universes, which are translated
together through the inexhaustible infinitude of God. They are
similar throughout, but they are identical in nothing. Your planet
and ours happen to be side by side, so to speak, but they are not
travelling at exactly the same pace nor in a strictly parallel
direction. They will drift apart again and follow their several
destinies. When Arden and Greenlake made their experiment the
chances of their hitting anything in your universe were infinitely
remote. They had disregarded it, they were merely rotating some of
our matter out of and then back into our universe. You fell into
us--as amazingly for us as for you. The importance of our discoveries
for us lies in our own universe and not in yours. We do not want
to come into your universe nor have more of your world come into
ours. You are too like us, and you are too dark and troubled and
diseased--you are too contagious--and we, we cannot help you yet
because we are not gods but men."

Mr. Barnstaple nodded.

"What could Utopians do with the men of earth? We have no strong
instinct in us to teach or dominate other adults. That has been
bred out of us by long centuries of equality and free co-operation.
And you would be too numerous for us to teach and much of your
population would be grown up and set in bad habits. Your stupidities
would get in our way, your quarrels and jealousies and traditions,
your flags and religions and all your embodied spites and
suppressions, would hamper us in everything we should want to do. We
should be impatient with you, unjust, overbearing. You are too like
us for us to be patient with your failures. It would be hard to
remember constantly how ill-bred you were. In Utopia we found out
long ago that no race of human beings was sufficiently great, subtle
and powerful to think and act for any other race. Perhaps already
you are finding out the same thing on earth as your races come into
closer contact. And much more would this be true between Utopia
and earth. From what I know of your people and their ignorance and
obstinacies it is clear our people would despise you; and contempt
is the cause of all injustice. We might end by exterminating you....
But why should we make that possible?... We must leave you alone.
We cannot trust ourselves with you.... Believe me this is the only
reasonable course for us."

Mr. Barnstaple assented silently.

"You and I--two individuals--can be friends and understand."

"What you say is true," said Mr. Barnstaple. "It is true. But it
grieves me it is true.... Greatly.... Nevertheless, I gather, I at
least may be of service in Utopia?"

"You can."

"How?"

"By returning to your own world."

Mr. Barnstaple thought for some moments. It was what he had feared.
But he had offered himself. "I will do that."

"By attempting to return, I should say. There is risk. You may be
killed."

"I must take that."

"We want to verify all the data we have of the relations of our
universe to yours. We want to reverse the experiment of Arden and
Greenlake and see if we can return a living being to your world. We
are almost certain now that we can do so. And that human being must
care for us enough and care for his own world enough to go back and
give us a sign that he has got there."

Mr. Barnstaple spoke huskily. "I can do that," he said.

"We can put you into that machine of yours and into the clothes you
wore. You can be made again exactly as you left your world."

"Exactly. I understand."

"And because your world is vile and contentious and yet has some
strangely able brains in it, here and there, we do not want your
people to know of us, living so close to you--for we shall be close
to you yet for some hundreds of years at least--we do not want them
to know for fear that they should come here presently, led by
some poor silly genius of a scientific man, come in their greedy,
foolish, breeding swarms, hammering at our doors, threatening our
lives, and spoiling our high adventures, and so have to be beaten
off and killed like an invasion of rats or parasites."

"Yes," said Mr. Barnstaple. "Before men can come to Utopia, they
must learn the way here. Utopia, I see, is only a home for those
who have learnt the way."

He paused and answered some of his own thoughts. "When I have
returned," he said, "shall I begin to forget Utopia?"

Sungold smiled and said nothing.

"All my days the nostalgia of Utopia will distress me."

"And uphold you."

"I shall take up my earthly life at the point where I laid it down,
but--on earth--I shall be a Utopian. For I feel that having offered
my service and had it accepted, that I am no longer an outcast in
Utopia. I belong...."

"Remember you may be killed. You may die in the trial."

"As it may happen."

"Well--Brother!"

The friendly paw took Mr. Barnstaple's and pressed it and the deep
eyes smiled.

"After you have returned and given us your sign, several of the other
Earthlings may also be sent back."

Mr. Barnstaple sat up. "_But_!" he gasped. His voice rose high in
amazement. "I thought they were hurled into the blank space of some
outer universe and altogether destroyed!"

"Several were killed. They killed themselves by rushing down the
side of the old fortress in the outer darkness as the crag rotated.
The men in leather. The man you call Long Barrow--"

"Barralonga?"

"Yes. And the man who shrugged his shoulders and said, 'What would
you?' The others came back as the rotation was completed late in the
day--asphyxiated and frozen but not dead. They have been restored to
life, and we are puzzled now how to dispose of them.... They are of
no use whatever in this world. They encumber us."

"It is only too manifest," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"The man you call Burleigh seems to be of some importance in your
earthly affairs. We have searched his mind. His powers of belief are
very small. He believes in very little but the life of a cultivated
wealthy gentleman who holds a position of modest distinction in the
councils of a largely fictitious empire. It is doubtful if he will
believe in the reality of any of this experience. We will make sure
anyhow that he thinks it has been an imaginative dream. He will
consider it too fantastic to talk about because it is plain he is
already very afraid of his imagination. He will find himself back in
your world a few days after you reach it and he will make his way to
his own home unobtrusively. He will come next after you. You will
see him reappear in political affairs. Perhaps a little wiser."

"It might well be," said Mr. Barnstaple.

"And--what are the sounds of his name?--Rupert Catskill; he too will
return. Your world would miss him."

"Nothing will make him wiser," said Mr. Barnstaple with conviction.

"Lady Stella will come."

"I am glad she has escaped. She will say nothing about Utopia. She
is very discreet."

"The priest is mad. His behaviour became offensive and obscene and
he is under restraint."

"What did he do?"

"He made a number of aprons of black silk and set out with them to
attack our young people in an undignified manner."

"You can send him back," said Mr. Barnstaple after reflection.

"But will your world allow that sort of thing?"

"_We_ call that sort of thing Purity," said Mr. Barnstaple. "But of
course if you like to keep him...."

"He shall come back," said Sungold.

"The others you can keep," said Mr. Barnstaple. "In fact you will
have to keep them. Nobody on earth will trouble about them very
much. In our world there are so many people that always a few are
getting lost. As it is, returning even the few you propose to do
may excite attention. Local people may begin to notice all these
wanderers coming from nowhere in particular and asking their way
home upon the Maidenhead Road. They might give way under questions....
You cannot send any more. Put the rest on an island. Or something
of that sort. I wish I could advise you to keep the priest also. But
many people would miss him. They would suffer from suppressed Purity
and begin to behave queerly. The pulpit of St. Barnabas satisfies a
recognized craving. And it will be quite easy to persuade him that
Utopia is a dream and delusion. All priests believe that naturally
of all Utopias. He will think of it, if he thinks of it at all,
as--what would he call it--as a moral nightmare."


Section 2

Their business was finished, but Mr. Barnstaple was loth to go.

He looked Sungold in the eye and found something kindly there.

"You have told me all that I have to do," he said, "and it is fully
time that I went away from you, for any moment in your life is more
precious than a day of mine. Yet because I am to go so soon and so
obediently out of this vast and splendid world of yours back to my
native disorders, I could find it in my heart to ask you to unbend
if you could, to come down to me a little, and to tell me simply and
plainly of the greater days and greater achievements that are now
dawning upon this planet. You speak of your being able presently
to go out of this Utopia to remote parts in your universe. That
perplexes my mind. Probably I am unfitted to grasp that idea, but
it is very important to me. It has been a belief in our world that
at last there must be an end to life because our sun and planets
are cooling, and there seems no hope of escape from the little
world upon which we have arisen. We were born with it and we must
die with it. That robbed many of us of hope and energy: for why
should we work for progress in a world that must freeze and die?"

Sungold laughed. "Your philosophers concluded too soon."

He sprawled over the table towards his hearer and looked him
earnestly in the face.

"Your Earthly science has been going on for how long?"

"Two hundred--three hundred years."

Sungold held up two fingers. "And men? How many men?"

"A few hundred who mattered in each generation."

"We have gone on for three thousand years now, and a hundred million
good brains have been put like grapes into the wine-press of
science. And we know to-day--how little we know. There is never an
observation made but a hundred observations are missed in the making
of it; there is never a measurement but some impish truth mocks
us and gets away from us in the margin of error. I know something
of where your scientific men are, all power to the poor savages!
because I have studied the beginnings of our own science in the long
past of Utopia. How can I express our distances? Since those days we
have examined and tested and tried and retried a score of new ways
of thinking about space, of which time is only a specialized form.
We have forms of expression that we cannot get over to you so that
things that used to seem difficult and paradoxical to us--that
probably seem hopelessly difficult and paradoxical to you, lose all
their difficulty in our minds. It is hard to convey to you. We think
in terms of a space in which the space and time system, in terms of
which you think, is only a specialized case. So far as our feelings
and instincts and daily habits go we too live in another such system
as you do--but not so far as our knowledge goes, not so far as
our powers go. Our minds have exceed our lives--as yours will.
We are still flesh and blood, still hope and desire, we go to and
fro and look up and down, but things that seemed remote are brought
near, things that were inaccessible bow down, things that were
insurmountable lie under the hollows of our hands."

"And you do not think your race nor, for the matter of that, ours,
need ever perish?"

"Perish! We have hardly begun!"

The old man spoke very earnestly. Unconsciously he parodied Newton.
"We are like little children who have been brought to the shores of a
limitless ocean. All the knowledge we have gathered yet in the few
score generations since first we began to gather knowledge, is like
a small handful of pebbles gathered upon the shore of that limitless
sea.

"Before us lies knowledge, endlessly, and we may take and take, and
as we take, grow. We grow in power, we grow in courage. We renew
our youth. For mark what I say, our worlds grow younger. The old
generations of apes and sub-men before us had aged minds; their
narrow reluctant wisdom was the meagre profit, hoarded and stale and
sour, of innumerable lives. They dreaded new things; so bitterly
did they value the bitterly won old. But to learn is, at length, to
become young again, to be released, to begin afresh. Your world,
compared with ours, is a world of unteachable encrusted souls, of
bent and droning traditions, of hates and injuries and such-like
unforgettable things. But some day you too will become again like
little children, and it will be you who will find your way through
to us--to us, who will be waiting for you. Two universes will meet
and embrace, to beget a yet greater universe.... You Earthlings do
not begin to realize yet the significance of life. Nor we
Utopians--scarcely more.... Life is still only a promise, still waits
to be born, out of such poor stirrings in the dust as we....

"Some day here and everywhere, Life of which you and I are but
anticipatory atoms and eddies, Life will awaken indeed, one and
whole and marvellous, like a child awaking to conscious life. It
will open its drowsy eyes and stretch itself and smile, looking the
mystery of God in the face as one meets the morning sun. We shall
be there then, all that matters of us, you and I....

"And it will be no more than a beginning, no more than a beginning...."



CHAPTER THE FOURTH

THE RETURN OF THE EARTHLING


Section 1

Too soon the morning came when Mr. Barnstaple was to look his last
upon the fair hills of Utopia and face the great experiment to which
he had given himself. He had been loth to sleep and he had slept
little that night, and in the early dawn he was abroad, wearing for
the last time the sandals and the light white robe that had become
his Utopian costume. Presently he would have to struggle into socks
and boots and trousers and collar; the strangest gear. It would
choke him he felt, and he stretched his bare arms to the sky and
yawned and breathed his lungs full. The valley below still drowsed
beneath a coverlet of fleecy mists; he turned his face uphill, the
sooner to meet the sun.

Never before had he been out among the Utopian flowers at such an
early hour; it was amusing to see how some of the great trumpets
still drooped asleep and how many of the larger blossoms were
furled and hung. Many of the leaves too were wrapped up, as limp as
new-hatched moths. The gossamer spiders had been busy and everything
was very wet with dew. A great tiger came upon him suddenly out of a
side path and stared hard at him for some moments with round yellow
eyes. Perhaps it was trying to remember the forgotten instincts of
its breed.

Some way up the road he passed under a vermilion archway and went up
a flight of stone stairs that promised to bring him earlier to the
crest.

A number of friendly little birds, very gaily coloured, flew about
him for a time and one perched impudently upon his shoulder, but
when he put up his hand to caress it it evaded him and flew away.
He was still ascending the staircase when the sun rose. It was as
if the hillside slipped off a veil of grey and blue and bared the
golden beauty of its body.

Mr. Barnstaple came to a landing place upon the staircase and
stopped, and stood very still watching the sunrise search and
quicken the brooding deeps of the valley below.

Far away, like an arrow shot from east to west, appeared a line of
dazzling brightness on the sea.


Section 2

"Serenity," he murmured. "Beauty. All the works of men--in perfect
harmony...minds brought to harmony...."

According to his journalistic habit he tried over phrases. "An
energetic peace...confusions dispersed.... A world of spirits,
crystal clear...."

What was the use of words?

For a time he stood quite still listening, for from some slope above
a lark had gone heavenward, spraying sweet notes. He tried to see
that little speck of song and was blinded by the brightening blue
of the sky.

Presently the lark came down and ceased. Utopia was silent, except
for a burst of childish laughter somewhere on the hillside below.

It dawned upon Mr. Barnstaple how peaceful was the Utopian air
in comparison with the tormented atmosphere of earth. Here was
no yelping and howling of tired or irritated dogs, no braying,
bellowing, squealing and distressful outcries of uneasy beasts, no
farmyard clamour, no shouts of anger, no barking and coughing, no
sounds of hammering, beating, sawing, grinding, mechanical hooting,
whistling, screaming and the like, no clattering of distant trains,
clanking of automobiles or other ill-contrived mechanisms; the
tiresome and ugly noises of many an unpleasant creature were heard
no more. In Utopia the ear like the eye was at peace. The air
which had once been a mud of felted noises was now--a purified
silence. Such sounds as one heard lay upon it like beautiful
printing on a generous sheet of fine paper.

His eyes returned to the landscape below as the last fleecy vestiges
of mist dissolved away. Water-tanks, roads, bridges, buildings,
embankments, colonnades, groves, gardens, channels, cascades and
fountains grew multitudinously clear, framed under a branch of dark
foliage from a white-stemmed tree that gripped a hold among the
rocks at his side.

"Three thousand years ago this was a world like ours.... Think of
it--in a hundred generations.... In three thousand years we might
make our poor waste of an earth, jungle and desert, slag-heap and
slum, into another such heaven of beauty and power....

"Worlds they are--similar, but not the same....

"If I could tell them what I have seen!...

"Suppose all men could have this vision of Utopia....

"They would not believe it if I told them. No...

"They would bray like asses at me and bark like dogs!... They will
have no world but their own world. It hurts them to think of any
world but their own. Nothing can be done that has not been done
already. To think otherwise would be humiliation.... Death,
torture, futility--anything but humiliation! So they must sit among
their weeds and excrement, scratching and nodding sagely at one
another, hoping for a good dog-fight and to gloat upon pain and
effort they do not share, sure that mankind stank, stinks and must
always stink, that stinking is very pleasant indeed, and that there
is nothing new under the sun...."

His thoughts were diverted by two young girls who came running one
after the other up the staircase. One was dark even to duskiness
and her hands were full of blue flowers; the other who pursued her
was a year or so younger and golden fair. They were full of the
limitless excitement of young animals at play. The former one was
so intent upon the other that she discovered Mr. Barnstaple with a
squeak of surprise after she had got to his landing. She stared at
him with a quick glance of inquiry, flashed into impudent roguery,
flung two blue flowers in his face and was off up the steps above.
Her companion, intent on capture, flew by. They flickered up the
staircase like two butterflies of buff and pink; halted far above
and came together for a momentary consultation about the stranger,
waved hands to him and vanished.

Mr. Barnstaple returned their greeting and remained cheered.


Section 3

The view-point to which Lychnis had directed Mr. Barnstaple stood
out on the ridge between the great valley in which he had spent the
last few days and a wild and steep glen down which ran a torrent
that was destined after some hundred miles of windings to reach the
river of the plain. The view-point was on the crest of a crag, it
had been built out upon great brackets so that it hung sheer over a
bend in the torrent below; on the one hand was mountainous scenery
and a rich and picturesque foam of green vegetation in the depths,
on the other spread the broad garden spaces of a perfected
landscape. For a time Mr. Barnstaple scrutinized this glen into
which he looked for the first time. Five hundred feet or so below
him, so that he felt that he could have dropped a pebble upon its
outstretched wings, a bustard was soaring.

Many of the trees below he thought must be fruit trees, but they
were too far off to see distinctly. Here and there he could
distinguish a footpath winding up among the trees and rocks, and
among the green masses were little pavilions in which he knew the
wayfarer might rest and make tea for himself and find biscuits and
such-like refreshment and possibly a couch and a book. The whole
world, he knew, was full of such summer-houses and kindly shelters....

After a time he went back to the side of this view-place up which
he had come, and regarded the great valley that went out towards the
sea. The word Pisgah floated through his mind. For indeed below him
was the Promised Land of human desires. Here at last, established
and secure, were peace, power, health, happy activity, length of days
and beauty. All that we seek was found here and every dream was
realized.

How long would it be yet--how many centuries or thousands of
years--before a man would be able to stand upon some high place on
earth also and see mankind triumphant and wholly and for ever at
peace?...

He folded his arms under him upon the parapet and mused profoundly.

There was no knowledge in this Utopia of which earth had not the
germs, there was no power used here that Earthlings might not use.
Here, but for ignorance and darkness and the spites and malice they
permit, was earth to-day....

Towards such a world as this Utopia Mr. Barnstaple had been striving
weakly all his life. If the experiment before him succeeded, if
presently he found himself alive again on earth, it would still be
towards Utopia that his life would be directed. And he would not be
alone. On earth there must be thousands, tens of thousands, perhaps
hundreds of thousands, who were also struggling in their minds and
acts to find a way of escape for themselves and for their children
from the disorders and indignities of the Age of Confusion, hundreds
of thousands who wanted to put an end to wars and waste, to heal and
educate and restore, to set the banner of Utopia over the shams and
divisions that waste mankind.

"Yes, but we fail," said Mr. Barnstaple an walked fretfully to aid
fro. "Tens and hundred of thousands of men and women! And we achieve
so little! Perhaps every young man and every young woman has had
some dream at least of serving and bettering the world. And we
are scattered and wasted, and the old things and the foul things,
customs, delusions, habits, tolerated treasons, base immediacies,
triumph over us!"

He went to the parapet again and stood with his foot on a seat, his
elbow on his knee and his chin in his hand, staring at the
loveliness of this world he was to leave so soon....

"We could do it."

And suddenly it was borne in upon Mr. Barnstaple that he belonged
now soul and body to the Revolution, to the Great Revolution that
is afoot on earth; that marches and will never desist nor rest
again until Old Earth is one city and Utopia set up therein. He
knew clearly that this Revolution is life, and that all other living
is a trafficking of life with death. And as this crystallized out in
his mind he knew instantly that so presently it would crystallize
out in the minds of countless others of those hundreds of thousands
of men and women on earth whom minds are set towards Utopia.

He stood up. He began walking to and fro. "We shall do it," he said.

Earthly thought was barely awakened as yet to the task and
possibilities before mankind. All human history so far had been
no more than the stirring of a sleeper, a gathering discontent, a
rebellion against the limitations set upon life, the unintelligent
protest of thwarted imaginations. All the conflicts and
insurrections and revolutions that had ever been on earth were but
indistinct preludes of the revolution that has still to come. When
he had started out upon this fantastic holiday Mr. Barnstaple
realized he had been in a mood of depression; earthly affairs had
seemed utterly confused and hopeless to him; but now from the
view-point of Utopia achieved, and with his health renewed, he could
see plainly enough how steadily men on earth were feeling their way
now, failure after failure, towards the opening drive of the final
revolution. He could see how men in his own lifetime had been
struggling out of such entanglements as the lie of monarchy, the
lies of dogmatic religion and dogmatic morality towards public
self-respect and cleanness of mind and body. They struggled now
also towards international charity and the liberation of their
common economic life from a network of pretences, dishonesties and
impostures. There is confusion in all struggles; retractions and
defeats; but the whole effect seen from the calm height of Utopia
was one of steadfast advance....


There were blunders, there were set-backs, because the forces of
revolution still worked in the twilight. The great effort and the
great failure of the socialist movement to create a new state in the
world had been contemporaneous with Mr. Barnstaple's life; socialism
had been the gospel of his boyhood; he had participated in its
hopes, its doubts, its bitter internal conflicts. He had seen the
movement losing sweetness and gathering force in the narrowness of
the Marxist formulae. He had seen it sacrifice its constructive
power for militant intensity. In Russia he had marked its ability
to overthrow and its inability to plan or build. Like every liberal
spirit in the world he had shared the chill of Bolshevik presumption
and Bolshevik failure, and for a time it had seemed to him that this
open bankruptcy of a great creative impulse was no less and no more
than a victory for reaction, that it gave renewed life to all
the shams, impostures, corruptions, traditional anarchies and
ascendencies that restrain and cripple human life.... But now from
this high view-point in Utopia he saw clearly that the Phoenix of
Revolution flames down to ashes only to be born again. While the
noose is fitted round the Teacher's neck the youths are reading his
teaching. Revolutions arise and die; the Great Revolution comes
incessantly and inevitably.

The time was near--and in what life was left to him, he himself
might help to bring it nearer--when the forces of that last and real
revolution would work no longer in the twilight but in the dawn,
and a thousand sorts of men and women now far apart and unorganized
and mutually antagonistic would be drawn together by the growth of
a common vision of the world desired. The Marxist had wasted the
forces of revolution for fifty years; he had had no vision; he had
had only a condemnation for established things. He had estranged
all scientific and able men by his pompous affectation of the
scientific; he had terrified them by his intolerant orthodoxy; his
delusion that all ideas are begotten by material circumstances had
made him negligent of education and criticism. He had attempted to
build social unity on hate and rejected every other driving force
for the bitterness of a class war. But now, in its days of doubt
and exhaustion, vision was returning to Socialism, and the dreary
spectacle of a proletarian dictatorship gave way once more to
Utopia, to the demand for a world fairly and righteously at peace,
its resources husbanded and exploited for the common good, its every
citizen freed not only from servitude but from ignorance, and its
surplus energies directed steadfastly to the increase of knowledge
and beauty. The attainment of that vision by more and more minds was
a thing now no longer to be prevented. Earth would tread the path
Utopia had trod. She too would weave law, duty and education into
a larger sanity than man has ever known. Men also would presently
laugh at the things they had feared, and brush aside the impostures
that had overawed them and the absurdities that had tormented and
crippled their lives. And as this great revolution was achieved and
earth wheeled into daylight, the burthen of human miseries would
lift, and courage oust sorrow from the hearts of men. Earth, which
was now no more than a wilderness, sometimes horrible and at best
picturesque, a wilderness interspersed with weedy scratchings for
food and with hovels and slums and slag-heaps, earth too would grow
rich with loveliness and fair as this great land was fair. The sons
of earth also, purified from disease, sweet-minded and strong and
beautiful, would go proudly about their conquered planet and lift
their daring to the stars.

"Given the will," said Mr. Barnstaple. "Given only the will."...


Section 4

From some distant place came the sound of a sweet-toned bell
striking the hour.

The time for the service to which he was dedicated was drawing near.
He must descend, and be taken to the place where the experiment was
to be made.

He took one last look at the glen and then went back to the broad
prospect of the great valley, with its lakes and tanks and terraces,
its groves and pavilions, its busy buildings and high viaducts, its
wide slopes of sunlit cultivation, its universal gracious amenity.
"Farewell Utopia," he said, and was astonished to discover how
deeply his emotions were stirred.

"Dear Dream of Hope and Loveliness, Farewell!"

He stood quite still in a mood of sorrowful deprivation too deep for
tears.

It seemed to him that the spirit of Utopia bent down over him like a
goddess, friendly, adorable--and inaccessible.

His very mind stood still.

"Never," he whispered at last, "for me.... Except to serve.... No...."

Presently he began to descend the steps that wound down from the
view-point. For a time he noted little of the things immediately
about him. Then the scent of roses invaded his attention, and he
found himself walking down a slanting pergola covered with great
white roses and very active with little green birds. He stopped
short and stood looking up at the leaves, light-saturated, against
the sky. He put up his hands and drew down one of the great blossoms
until it touched his cheek.


Section 5

They took Mr. Barnstaple back by aeroplane to the point upon the
glassy road where he had first come into Utopia. Lychnis came with
him and Crystal, who was curious to see what would be done.

A group of twenty or thirty people, including Sungold, awaited him.
The ruined laboratory of Arden and Greenlake had been replaced by
fresh buildings, and there were additional erections on the further
side of the road; but Mr. Barnstaple could recognize quite clearly
the place where Mr. Catskill had faced the leopard and where Mr.
Burleigh had accosted him. Several new kinds of flowers were now
out, but the blue blossoms that had charmed him on arrival still
prevailed. His old car, the Yellow Peril, looking now the clumsiest
piece of ironmongery conceivable, stood in the road. He went and
examined it. It seemed to be in perfect order; it had been carefully
oiled and the petrol tank was full.

In a little pavilion were his bag and all his earthly clothes. They
were very clean and they had been folded and pressed, and he put
them on. His shirt seemed tight across his chest and his collar
decidedly tight, and his coat cut him a little under the arms.
Perhaps these garments had shrunken when they were disinfected.
He packed his bag and Crystal put it in the car for him.

Sungold explained very simply all that Mr. Barnstaple had to do.
Across the road, close by the restored laboratory, stretched a line
as thin as gossamer. "Steer your car to that and break it," he said.
"That is all you have to do. Then take this red flower and put it
down exactly where your wheel tracks show you have entered your own
world."

Mr. Barnstaple was left beside the car. The Utopians went back
twenty or thirty yards and stood in a circle about him. For a few
moments everyone was still.


Section 6

Mr. Barnstaple got into his car, started his engine, let it throb
for a minute and then put in the clutch. The yellow car began to
move towards the line of gossamer. He made a gesture with one hand
which Lychnis answered. Sungold and others of the Utopians also
made friendly movements. But Crystal was watching too intently for
any gesture.

"Good-bye, Crystal!" cried Mr. Barnstaple, and the boy responded
with a start.

Mr. Barnstaple accelerated, set his teeth and, in spite of his will
to keep them open, shut his eyes as he touched the gossamer line.
Came that sense again of unendurable tension and that sound like the
snapping of a bow-string. He had an irresistible impulse to stop--go
back. He took his foot from the accelerator, and the car seemed to
fall a foot or so and stopped so heavily and suddenly that he was
jerked forward against the steering wheel. The oppression lifted. He
opened his eyes and looked about him.

The car was standing in a field from which the hay had recently
been carried. He was tilted on one side because of a roll in the
ground. A hedge in which there was an open black gate separated
this hay-field from the high road. Close at hand was a board
advertisement of some Maidenhead hotel. On the far side of the road
were level fields against a background of low wooded hills. Away
to the left was a little inn. He turned his head and saw Windsor
Castle in the remote distance rising above poplar-studded meadows.
It was not, as his Utopians had promised him, the exact spot of his
departure from our earth, but it was certainly less than a hundred
yards away.

He sat still for some moments, mentally rehearsing what he had to
do. Then he started the Yellow Peril again and drove it close up
to the black gate.

He got out and stood with the red flower in his hand. He had to go
back to the exact spot at which he had re-entered this universe and
put that flower down there. It would be quite easy to determine that
point by the track the car had made in the stubble. But he felt an
extraordinary reluctance to obey these instructions. He wanted to
keep this flower. It was the last thing, the only thing, he had now
from that golden world. That and the sweet savour on his hands.

It was extraordinary that he had brought no more than this with him.
Why had he not brought a lot of flowers? Why had they given him
nothing, no little thing, out of all their wealth of beauty? He
wanted intensely to keep this flower. He was moved to substitute
a spray of honeysuckle from the hedge close at hand. But then he
remembered that that would be infected stuff for them. He must do
as he was told. He walked back along the track of his car to its
beginning, stood for a moment hesitating, tore a single petal from
that glowing bloom, and then laid down the rest of the great flower
carefully in the very centre of his track. The petal he put in his
pocket. Then with a heavy heart he went back slowly to his car and
stood beside it, watching that star of almost luminous red.

His grief and emotion were very great. He was bitterly sorrowful
now at having left Utopia.

It was evident the great drought was still going on, for the field
and the hedges were more parched and brown than he had ever seen an
English field before. Along the road lay a thin cloud of dust that
passing cars continually renewed. This old world seemed to him
to be full of unlovely sights and sounds and odours already half
forgotten. There was the honking of distant cars, the uproar of
a train, a thirsty cow mourning its discomfort; there was the
irritation of dust in his nostrils and the smell of sweltering tar;
there was barbed wire in the hedge near by and along the top of the
black gate, and horse-dung and scraps of dirty paper at his feet.
The lovely world from which he had been driven had shrunken now to
a spot of shining scarlet.

Something happened very quickly. It was as if a hand appeared for a
moment and took the flower. In a moment it had gone. A little eddy
of dust swirled and drifted and sank....

It was the end.

At the thought of the traffic on the main road Mr. Barnstaple
stooped down so as to hide his face from the passers-by. For some
minutes he was unable to regain his self-control. He stood with
his arm covering his face, leaning against the shabby brown hood of
his car....

At last this gust of sorrow came to an end and he could get in
again, start up the engine and steer into the main road.

He turned eastward haphazard. He left the black gate open behind
him. He went along very slowly for as yet he had formed no idea
of whither he was going. He began to think that probably in this
old world of ours he was being sought for as a person who had
mysteriously disappeared. Someone might discover him and he would
become the focus of a thousand impossible questions. That would
be very tiresome and disagreeable. He had not thought of this in
Utopia. In Utopia it had seemed quite possible that he could come
back into earth unobserved. Now on earth that confidence seemed
foolish. He saw ahead of him the board of a modest tea-room. It
occurred that he might alight there, see a newspaper, ask a
discreet question or so, and find out what had been happening to
the world and whether he had indeed been missed.

He found a table already laid for tea under the window. In the
centre of the room a larger table bore an aspidistra in a big green
pot and a selection of papers, chiefly out-of-date illustrated
papers. But there was also a copy of the morning's Daily Express.

He seized upon this eagerly, fearful that he would find it full of
the mysterious disappearance of Mr. Burleigh, Lord Barralonga, Mr.
Rupert Catskill, Mr. Hunker, Father Amerton and Lady Stella, not
to mention the lesser lights.... Gradually as he turned it over his
fears vanished. There was not a word about any of them!

"But surely," he protested to himself, now clinging to his idea,
"their friends must have missed them!"

He read through the whole paper. Of one only did he find mention and
that was the last name he would have expected to find--Mr. Freddy
Mush. The Princess de Modena-Frascati (nee Higgisbottom) Prize for
English literature had been given away to nobody in particular by
Mr. Graceful Gloss owing to "the unavoidable absence of Mr. Freddy
Mush abroad."

The problem of why there had been no hue and cry for the others
opened a vast field of worldly speculation to Mr. Barnstaple in
which he wandered for a time. His mind went back to that bright red
blossom lying among the cut stems of the grass in the mown field
and to the hand that had seemed to take it. With that the door that
had opened so marvellously between that strange and beautiful world
and our own had closed again.

Wonder took possession of Mr. Barnstaple's mind. That dear world of
honesty and health was beyond the utmost boundaries of our space,
utterly inaccessible to him now for evermore; and yet, as he had
been told, it was but one of countless universes that move together
in time, that lie against one another, endlessly like the leaves of
a book. And all of them are as nothing in the endless multitudes of
systems and dimensions that surround them. "Could I but rotate my
arm out of the limits set to it," one of the Utopians had said to
him; "I could thrust it into a thousand universes."...

A waitress with his teapot recalled him to mundane things.

The meal served to him seemed tasteless and unclean. He drank the
queer brew of the tea because he was thirsty but he ate scarcely
a mouthful.

Presently he chanced to put his hand in his pocket and touched
something soft. He drew out the petal he had torn from the red
flower. It had lost its glowing red, and as he held it out in
the stuffy air of the room it seemed to writhe as it shrivelled
and blackened; its delicate scent gave place to a mawkish odour.

"Manifestly," he said. "I should have expected this."

He dropped the lump of decay on his plate, then picked it up again
and thrust it into the soil in the pot of the aspidistra.

He took up the Daily Express again and turned it over, trying to
recover his sense of this world's affairs.


Section 7

For a long time Mr. Barnstaple meditated over the Daily Express in
the tea-room at Colnebrook. His thoughts went far so that presently
the newspaper slipped to the ground unheeded. He roused himself
with a sigh and called for his bill. Paying, he became aware of a
pocket-book still full of pound notes. "This will be the cheapest
holiday I have ever had," he thought. "I've spent no money at all."
He inquired for the post-office, because he had a telegram to send.

Two hours later he stopped outside the gate of his little villa at
Sydenham. He set it open--the customary bit of stick with which he
did this was in its usual place--and steered the Yellow Peril with
the dexterity of use and went past the curved flower-bed to the
door of his shed. Mrs. Barnstaple appeared in the porch.

"Alfred! You're back at last?"

"Yes, I'm back. You got my telegram?"

"Ten minutes ago. Where have you been all this time? It's more than
a month."

"Oh! just drifting about and dreaming. I've had a wonderful time."

"You ought to have written. You really ought to have written....
You _did_, Alfred...."

"I didn't bother. The doctor said I wasn't to bother. I told you.
Is there any tea going? Where are the boys?"

"The boys are out. Let me make you some fresh tea." She did so
and came and sat down in the cane chair in front of him and the
tea-table. "I'm glad to have you back. Though I could scold you....

"You're looking wonderfully well," she said. "I've never seen your
skin so clear and brown."

"I've been in good air all the time."

"Did you get to the Lakes?"

"Not quite. But it's been good air everywhere. Healthy air."

"You never got lost?"

"Never."

"I had ideas of you getting lost--losing your memory. Such things
happen. You didn't?"

"My memory's as bright as a jewel."

"But where did you go?"

"I just wandered and dreamt. Lost in a day-dream. Often I didn't
ask the name of the place where I was staying. I stayed in one place
and then in another. I never asked their names. I left my mind
passive. Quite passive. I've had a tremendous rest--from everything.
I've hardly given a thought to politics or money or social
questions--at least, the sort of thing _we_ call social questions--or
any of these worries, since I started.... Is that this week's
Liberal?"

He took it, turned it over, and at last tossed it on to the sofa.
"Poor old Peeve," he said. "Of course I must leave that paper. He's
like wall-paper on a damp wall. Just blotches and rustles and fails
to stick.... Gives me mental rheumatics."

Mrs. Barnstaple stared at him doubtfully. "But I always thought
that the Liberal was such a safe job."

"I don't want a safe job now. I can do better. There's other work
before me.... Don't you worry. I can take hold of things surely
enough after this rest.... How are the boys?"

"I'm a little anxious about Frankie."

Mr. Barnstaple had picked up the Times. An odd advertisement in
the Agony column had caught his eye. It ran: "Cecil. Your absence
exciting remark. Would like to know what you wish us to tell people.
Write fully Scotch address. Di. ill with worry. All instructions
will be followed."

"I beg your pardon, my dear?" he said putting the paper aside.

"I was saying that he doesn't seem to be settling down to business.
He doesn't like it. I wish you could have a good talk to him. He's
fretting because he doesn't _know_ enough. He says he wants to be
a science student at the Polytechnic and go on learning things."

"Well, he can. Sensible boy! I didn't think he had it in him. I
meant to have a talk to him. But this meets me half-way. Certainly
he shall study science."

"But the boy has to earn a living."

"That will come. If he wants to study science he shall."

Mr. Barnstaple spoke in a tone that was altogether new to Mrs.
Barnstaple, a tone of immediate, quiet, and assured determination.
It surprised her still more that he should use this tone without
seeming to be aware that he had used it.

He bit his slice of bread-and-butter, and she could see that
something in the taste surprised and displeased him. He glanced
doubtfully at the remnant of the slice in his hand. "Of course,"
he said. "London butter. Three days' wear. Left about. Funny how
quickly one's taste alters."

He picked up the Times again and ran his eye over its columns.

"This world is really very childish," he said. "Very. I had
forgotten. Imaginary Bolshevik plots. Sinn Fein proclamations. The
Prince. Poland. Obvious lies about the Chinese. Obvious lies about
Egypt. People pulling Wickham Steed's leg. Sham-pious article about
Trinity-Sunday. The Hitchin murder.... H'm!--rather a nasty one....
The Pomfort Rembrandt.... Insurance.... Letter from indignant peer
about Death Duties.... Dreary Sport. Boating, Tennis, Schoolboy
cricket. Collapse of Harrow! As though such things were of the
slightest importance!... How silly it is--all of it! It's like
coming back to the quarrels of servants and the chatter of
children."

He found Mrs. Barnstaple regarding him intently. "I haven't seen a
paper from the day I started until this morning," he explained.

He put down the paper and stood up. For some minutes Mrs. Barnstaple
had been doubting whether she was not the victim of an absurd
hallucination. Now she realized that she was in the presence of the
most amazing fact she had ever observed.

"Yes," she said. "It is so. Don't move! Keep like that. I know it
sounds ridiculous, Alfred, but you have grown taller. It's not
simply that your stoop has gone. You have grown oh!--two or three
inches."

Mr. Barnstaple stared at her, and then held out his arm. Certainly
he was showing an unusual length of wrist. He tried to judge whether
his trousers had also the same grown-out-of look.

Mrs. Barnstaple came up to him almost respectfully. She stood beside
him and put her shoulder against his arm. "Your shoulder used to be
exactly level with mine," she said. "See where we are now!"

She looked up into his eyes. As though she was very glad indeed to
have him back with her.

But Mr. Barnstaple remained lost in thought. "It must be the extreme
freshness of the air. I have been in some wonderful air....
Wonderful!... But at my age! To have grown! And I _feel_ as though
I'd grown, inside and out, mind and body."...

Mrs. Barnstaple presently began to put the tea-things together for
removal.

"You seem to have avoided the big towns."

"I did."

"And kept to the country roads and lanes."

"Practically.... It was all new country to me.... Beautiful....
Wonderful...."

His wife still watched him.

"You must take _me_ there some day," she said. "I can see that it
has done you a world of good."



THE END



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