“A dead soldier’s sword athwart his pall.”
But it faded away, and the storm came down, at last, heavy and dark and deadly.
UPON THE HOUSE-TOP
A few days after our joint wedding Max came running in one day, and said:
“It is to be to-morrow.”
He gave each of us a red cross to sew upon our clothes. He was very much excited, and hurried out again.
I had said to him, the morning of our marriage, that I desired to return home before the outbreak came, for I was now responsible for Estella’s life and safety; and I feared that all communication of one part of the world with another would be cut off by the threatened revolution. He had begged me to remain. He said that at the interview with General Quincy it had been made a condition of the contract that each of the executive committee—Caesar, the vice-president and himself—should have one of the flying air-ships placed at his disposal, after the outbreak, well manned and equipped with bombs and arms of all kinds. These “Demons” were to be subject to their order at any time, and to be guarded by the troops at their magazine in one of the suburbs until called for.
The committee had several reasons for making this arrangement: the outbreak might fail and they would have to fly; or the outbreak might succeed, but become ungovernable, and they would have to escape from the tempest they had themselves invoked. Max had always had a dream that after the Plutocracy was overthrown the insurgents would reconstruct a purer and better state of society; but of late my conversations with him, and his own observations, had begun to shake his faith in this particular.
He said to me that if I remained he would guarantee the safety of myself and wife, and after I had seen the outbreak he would send me home in his air-ship; and moreover, if he became satisfied that the revolution had passed beyond the control of himself and friends, he would, after rescuing his father from the prison where he was confined, accompany me with his whole family, and we would settle down together in my distant mountain home. He had, accordingly, turned all his large estate into gold and silver, which he had brought to the house; and I had likewise filled one large room full of a great library of books, which I had purchased to take with me—literature, science, art, encyclopedias, histories, philosophies, in fact all the treasures of the world’s genius—together with type, printing presses, telescopes, phonographs, photographic instruments, electrical apparatus, eclesions, phemasticons, and all the other great inventions which the last hundred years have given us. For, I said to myself, if civilization utterly perishes in the rest of the world, there, in the mountains of Africa, shut out from attack by rocks and ice-topped mountains, and the cordon of tropical barbarians yet surrounding us, we will wait until exhausted and prostrate mankind is ready to listen to us and will help us reconstruct society upon a wise and just basis.