Caesar's Column eBook

Ignatius Donnelly
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 287 pages of information about Caesar's Column.

But I must close for tonight, and subscribe myself affectionately your brother,

Gabriel

CHAPTER IV.

Theunder-world

My Dear Heinrich: 

Since I wrote you last night I have been through dreadful scenes.  I have traversed death in life.  I have looked with my very eyes on Hell.  I am sick at heart.  My soul sorrows for humanity.

Max (for so I have come to call my new-found friend) woke me very early, and we breakfasted by lamp-light.

Yesterday he had himself dyed my fair locks of a dark brown, almost black hue, and had cut off some of my hair’s superfluous length.  Then he sent for a tailor, who soon arrayed me in garments of the latest fashion and most perfect fit.  Instead of the singular-looking mountaineer of the day before, for whom the police were diligently searching, and on whose head a reward of one thousand dollars had been placed (never before had my head been valued so highly), there was nothing in my appearance to distinguish me from the thousands of other gallant young gentlemen of this great city.

A carriage waited for us at the door.  We chatted together as we drove along through the quiet streets.

I asked him: 

“Are the degraded, and even the vicious, members of your Brotherhood?”

“No; not the criminal class,” he replied, “for there is nothing in their wretched natures on which you can build confidence or trust.  Only those who have fiber enough to persist in labor, under conditions which so strongly tend to drive them into crime, can be members of our Brotherhood.”

“May I ask the number of your membership?”

“In the whole world they amount to more than one hundred millions.”

I started with astonishment.

“But amid such numbers,” I said, “there must certainly be some traitors?”

“True, but the great multitude have nothing to tell.  They are the limbs and members, as it were, of the organization; the directing intelligence dwells elsewhere.  The multitude are like the soldiers of an army; they will obey when the time comes; but they are not taken into the councils of war.”

A half hour’s ride brought us into the domain of the poor.

An endless procession of men and women with pails and baskets—­small-sized pails and smaller baskets—­streamed along the streets on their way to work.  It was not yet six o’clock.  I observed that both men and women were undersized, and that they all very much resembled each other; as if similar circumstances had squeezed them into the same likeness.  There was no spring to their steps and no laughter in their eyes; all were spare of frame and stolid or hungry-looking.  The faces of the middle-aged men were haggard and wore a hopeless expression.  Many of them scowled at us, with a look of hatred, as we passed by them in our carriage. 

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Caesar's Column from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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