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´╗┐Title: With a Vengeance
Author: Woodley, J. B.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "With a Vengeance" ***

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[Illustration: Illustrated by KNOTH]


With a Vengeance

By J. B. WOODLEY


 _Keep this in mind in teaching
 apprentices: They are future
 journeymen--and even masters!_


                                                      October 10, 2119
                                                     New San Francisco

Today, at precisely 9:50 a.m., Kyle became First Imperator of Terra. His
coup was so fantastically direct and facile that I am almost tempted to
believe that old cliche "the time was right."

Well, however badly it can be expressed, I suppose the world _was_ ripe
for this sort of thing. I can remember when much the same used to
happen in elections. One man would win over another by a tremendous
majority, and historians would then set about to show how "the time was
right."

Why do I persist in tormenting myself with that phrase! Analytically, I
might say I resent this new aristocracy of politics. Specifically, I
might say I resent Kyle.

And both are true, both are true.

This swing, though, to absolute monarchy, complete with the installation
of the Kyle Dynasty--damn him! This is something which psychologists,
not historians, must explain. Has the age of the Common Man, so bravely
flaunted for over one hundred years, truly come to nothing? Would people
really prefer a figurehead and a symbol of undisputed authority?

In this instance, one may again conclude that "the time was right."
Contact with planets like Mars and Venus undoubtedly had its influence.
I must confess that the televised audiences with the Mrit of Venus and
the Znam of Mars _did_ make Terra's President--I should say, late
President--look a bit seedy. I daresay there is such a thing as a too
common Common Man.

Kyle was such, twenty years ago. His name wasn't Kyle then, although it
was something very like that. I must see if any of the old ledgers are
about! I'd like to see what the Imperator's name was when His Most
Imperial Majesty was an apprenticed nobody!

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                      October 12, 2119
                                                     New San Francisco

I found it! Buried in stacks of dust behind the old printing press that
was once the heart of my _Beacon-Sentinel_. There were others there too.
Spent a delightful morning with them, reading back through those old
account books.

I wonder whatever happened to Hastings? And Drew? Best linotype men I
ever had. They became pilots, or something, as I recall. Too bad, too
bad. They could have had such brilliant futures, both of them. Why they
felt they must ally themselves with the non-thinking, muscle-flexing
variety of mankind--of which our Ruler is an excellent example--I'll
never know.

Ah, yes, Kyle! In those days he was Kilmer Jones. I don't remember him
too well, actually, except for the day I fired him.

I suppose he was right in changing his name. We couldn't very well have
an Imperator named Kilmer the First, or Jones the First. Much too
common, not at all in keeping.

Gawky fellow--that Kilmer. When Bard brought me a sample of his work--I
guess I'll have to call it that--we both had a good laugh over it!
wonder if the fellow could even read! The punctuation! And the grammar!

I called the boy to the office that morning--or was it the next day? No
matter. I called him in and told him, as kindly as possible, that I
thought there were other vocations to which he might be better suited.
The irony of it! Kilmer Jones--Kyle I!

And he stood there, I remember, with those seventeen-year-old hands that
were all knuckles and bone and chapped skin, twisting those hands and
shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

"Please, Mr. Booth," he said, his voice cracking. "I ain't got no other
job in mind. I wanna be a noospaper man. I ain't got no--"

If not for that "ain't got no," I think I might have relented. But no
one is going to ruin the English language as he did! Not in my offices!

I took him to task severely for his offensive usage, outlined a correct
example of what he had attempted to say, gave him a brief lesson in the
history of the tongue, and explained why it had been chosen as the
official Terran speech. I think my conclusion was, "You'll be much
better off in a position which requires you to quote neither Milton nor
Shakespeare nor any author save possibly those who write the comic
strips."

"Got no training," he said softly. (I supposed it was to keep his voice
from exhibiting its usual adolescent gymnastics.)

I shuddered slightly, I remember. "You mean, 'I _have_ no training.'"

"Yeah ..." softly again. "Yeah, Mr. Booth."

"_Yes!_" I cried impatiently. "Not 'yeah,' but _yes_!"

I searched for his severance pay on my desk, wondering who the devil had
hired him in the first place. Gave him three weeks pay, as I recall it,
one more than necessary.

Unmannerly pup! He just stood there for a minute and then finally left
without even a "Thank you," or "Good-by."

And this is the man who is Kyle the First, Ruler of Terra at the age of
thirty-seven! I wonder what he is like now....

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                          January 1, 1
                                                     New San Francisco

There is no longer any need to wonder. Surprisingly few heads have
rolled, but apparently Jonesy chooses to exhibit his power in other
ways.

Thanksgiving Day, a custom preserved in certain portions of the
Directorate of North America, is three weeks away--even though it is
January.

The Year One. There used to be some childish joke about the Year One.
Don't remember it just now.

Thanksgiving harvest in January. Christmas celebration in February.
Spring planting in July! To say nothing of the inconvenience this has
caused in my bookkeeping department! I suppose the man will now try to
change the weather to suit his new calendar!

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                          January 8, 1
                                                     New San Francisco

He can't last! He can't! A dictator is one thing. A monarch is another.
But Kyle is something else!

Naturally he had to remove certain persons from his way. And his summer
palace in the plains region of America--that's all right, that's all
right! An authority of Kyle's stature is expected to remove
undesirables, and to have a summer palace, and a winter palace, and
anything else he wants! Of course!

But why this? Why _this_ of all things!

No newspapers! Just like that! _He_ waves an edict, and just like that,
_no newspapers_! The _Beacon-Sentinel_ has been a great paper for the
last twenty-five years! It was nothing, and I was nothing, and together
we became a Voice! And now again, we are nothing!

Oh, I see what's behind it! It's revenge, that's what it is! Because he
once couldn't become a "noospaper" man, he's taking his vengeance this
way.

A man as petty as that shall be overthrown! Mark my words! And the
clumsiness of it!

I see what he is! I know him! He's still that pup of seventeen, playing
king with the world, twisting his hands in glee over his childish
triumph.

No subtlety! Just a direct pushing over an applecart he couldn't steer!
Doesn't matter whose apples you destroy, does it, Jonesy? Just push it
over--push it over!

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                         January 16, 1
                                                     New San Francisco

Closed the _Beacon-Sentinel_ yesterday. My savings are enough to take
care of me for a few years. After that--ah, well, I am no longer a young
man. I am glad that Elsa is not here to see this.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                        February 12, 1
                                                     New San Francisco

Received a letter this morning, requesting me to appear at the chambers
of His Most Imperial Majesty, Kyle the First, on Tuesday of next week.
His Most Imperial Majesty can see me between 10:15 and 10:25 on that
morning.

Ten minutes--rather a brief spell in which to roll another head.

I find myself amazed, though. Is this man so truly powerful that he
needs no police to make his arrests for him? Can he really send messages
via jetmail and be certain his enemies will not try to escape?

I don't want to attempt flight. Life without my work is no longer life.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                        February 17, 1
                                         Kyleton Palace, North America

I don't understand. I've gone over it twice, and I don't understand. If
only Elsa were still with me! I could talk to her. She would help me
decipher what it's all about.

This morning, at 10:15 sharp, I was taken to the public audience chamber
in the palace.

His Majesty was seated behind a desk facing the doors. Behind him, on
the wall, was His Coat of Arms.

He stood up and walked toward me, waving away the guards. "How are you,
Mr. Booth?" he said. And offered me His Hand!

I recovered my presence of mind, of course, and replied as was fitting.

And then He said it! "I shall be at liberty later this week to discuss
more fully the details of these past years." (Shades of "ain't got no!")
"Meanwhile, my secretary will give you a complete dossier on my planned
Official Bulletin." He lighted a cigarette after offering me one. "I
should deem it an honor," he continued, "to have a man of your literary
versatility and--I must add--your vast practical experience become Chief
Editor of that Bulletin. The publication, which I should enjoy
christening _The Terran Beacon-Sentinel_--with your permission,
sir--shall be more than my official organ. It shall set the standards
for the coming newspaper world."

He cocked an eyebrow at me and smiled. "I believe we are in perfect
accord about certain standards, are we not, Mr. Booth? The deplorable
grammatical practices of some newspapers! Well, really, Mr. Booth! I
feel assured of your agreement!"

He led me around the desk and pointed to the Coat of Arms. As He stood
silent, I felt obliged to look more closely. I had seen it before, of
course, but seeing it now, greatly enlarged, I was able to make out its
detail.

What I had thought was a mere decorative border, I now realized was a
motif I have seen all my life! A tiny lighthouse sending forth a beam!
The trademark of my paper!

As I stood there, gaping, His Majesty laughed softly and said, "That,
Mr. Booth, I felt impelled to include. For, without your most fortuitous
termination of my apprenticeship in your organization, I should not have
risen to my present position."

       *       *       *       *       *

Again He took my hand and shook it, warmly. His hair is just a bit gray
at the temples, and there are signs of strain on His finely featured
face. Those awkward hands are now strong and purposeful.

He apologized that He must return to His duties, and went with me to the
door. "My secretary will fill in further details about your new
position. Newspapers shall once again be published. No--don't say a
word, Mr. Booth! I know what you are thinking.

"Your salary," he continued as we stood at the open door, "shall, of
course, be commensurate to your high authority in this new field. Allow
me, now, to thank you most deeply and sincerely for your unwitting aid
in my youth. I assure you, Mr. Booth, I have often thought of that day
we talked. And I hope to repay you, in some measure, for what you did."

He said more, mostly polite phrases of good-by. And then I was outside
after being handed a folder by some man.

An official jetmobile took me to my residence--which turned out to be in
the East Wing. Here I am, and I don't understand. I came prepared to
suffer heaven only knows what as part of Kilmer Jones's childish pattern
for revenge.

Instead, here I am, head of the Official Bulletin, titular ruler and
ruler-in-fact of the future journalism of the world!

There is something behind this--I keep feeling there is. But what? What?
Or is he truly generous, to a degree never before known among absolute
monarchs?

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                        February 13, 1
                                         Kyleton Palace, North America

I am a suspicious and most humble old man. I see now that Kyle's
generosity amazed me only because I myself would have been incapable of
such an action.

Just now, I fear for His Majesty. I was right, before, when I said there
was no subtlety in the man. He is too open, too fair, too forgiving. A
ruler with such greatness of heart might easily allow some small
insignificant person in too far, too close. I fear for him!

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                        February 14, 1
                                         Kyleton Palace, North America

Tomorrow we begin publication! The pressroom is magnificent! I can
hardly wait. It's been a long time since I've felt such exuberance.

This afternoon I am to conduct a conference of some eight hundred
editors! His Majesty's secretary has sent me an outline on Journalistic
Standards, which I shall study after lunch.

There was a note attached, in His Majesty's handwriting--such beautiful
penmanship, too. "A mere formality," it said, "for, of course, you and I
know full well what the future of journalism shall be, Mr. Booth."

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                               Later--

How wrong can one man be in one lifetime?

I wonder now _why_ he changed the calendar. I wonder now what poor devil
he destroyed then. But _I'll_ cheat him!

I'll cheat him yet!

       *       *       *       *       *

                                       Obituary, _Trran Bacon-Sntinl_,
                                                         Fbruary 16, 1

Th unfortunat and untimly dmis of Gorg W. Booth is hrby notd with sorrow
by thos who knw and lovd him.

Mr. Booth, formr ditor and publishr of th _Bacon-Sntinl_ of Nw San
Francisco, Dirctorat of North Amrica, had apparntly bn in poor helth for
som tim. It is blivd that worry ovr th succss of his nw policy-stting
_Trran Bacon-Sntinl_ was a contributing factor in his suicid lat in th
aftrnoon of Fbruary 14.

His Most Imprial Majsty Kyl th First has ordrd a fitting monumnt to his
lat lamntd frind. A simpl shaft of granit shall b rctd in th gardn
facing th Ast Wing of Kylton Palac, whr Mr. Booth mad his residnc. On th
shaft shall b inscribd th lgnd:

    "How bautous mankind is! Oh brav nw world,
    That has much peepl in't!"

Th quotation is from _Th Tmpst_. Mr. Booth was a grat admirr of
Shakspar.

An vn mor fitting and long-livd mmorial is xprssd in th dict rlasd
through th offics of His Majsty on th vry day of Mr. Booth's dath. It
reeds in part:

    "Th nw linguistic policy on Trra, as dmonstratd in th _Trran
    Bacon-Sntinl_, shall hncforth b known as Boothtalk."

Mr. Booth bfrindd Our Imprial Rulr in His youngr days, and, as w all
know, His Majsty nvr forgts a frind.

                                                       --J. B. WOODLEY



Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _Galaxy Science Fiction_ October 1953.
    Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
    copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and
    typographical errors have been corrected without note. Calendar
    dates remain as printed, and, based on the narrative, may be
    intentional.





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