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Title: Anthem
Author: Rand, Ayn
Language: English
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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 "Anthem" ***

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      by Ayn Rand


         PART ONE

         PART TWO

         PART THREE

         PART FOUR

         PART FIVE

         PART SIX

         PART SEVEN

         PART EIGHT

         PART NINE

         PART TEN

         PART ELEVEN

         PART TWELVE

      PART ONE

      It is a sin to write this. It is a sin to think words no others
      think and to put them down upon a paper no others are to see. It
      is base and evil. It is as if we were speaking alone to no ears
      but our own. And we know well that there is no transgression
      blacker than to do or think alone. We have broken the laws. The
      laws say that men may not write unless the Council of Vocations
      bid them so. May we be forgiven!

      But this is not the only sin upon us. We have committed a greater
      crime, and for this crime there is no name. What punishment
      awaits us if it be discovered we know not, for no such crime has
      come in the memory of men and there are no laws to provide for

      It is dark here. The flame of the candle stands still in the air.
      Nothing moves in this tunnel save our hand on the paper. We are
      alone here under the earth. It is a fearful word, alone. The laws
      say that none among men may be alone, ever and at any time, for
      this is the great transgression and the root of all evil. But we
      have broken many laws. And now there is nothing here save our one
      body, and it is strange to see only two legs stretched on the
      ground, and on the wall before us the shadow of our one head.

      The walls are cracked and water runs upon them in thin threads
      without sound, black and glistening as blood. We stole the candle
      from the larder of the Home of the Street Sweepers. We shall be
      sentenced to ten years in the Palace of Corrective Detention if
      it be discovered. But this matters not. It matters only that the
      light is precious and we should not waste it to write when we
      need it for that work which is our crime. Nothing matters save
      the work, our secret, our evil, our precious work. Still, we must
      also write, for—may the Council have mercy upon us!—we wish to
      speak for once to no ears but our own.

      Our name is Equality 7-2521, as it is written on the iron
      bracelet which all men wear on their left wrists with their names
      upon it. We are twenty-one years old. We are six feet tall, and
      this is a burden, for there are not many men who are six feet
      tall. Ever have the Teachers and the Leaders pointed to us and
      frowned and said:

      “There is evil in your bones, Equality 7-2521, for your body has
      grown beyond the bodies of your brothers.” But we cannot change
      our bones nor our body.

      We were born with a curse. It has always driven us to thoughts
      which are forbidden. It has always given us wishes which men may
      not wish. We know that we are evil, but there is no will in us
      and no power to resist it. This is our wonder and our secret
      fear, that we know and do not resist.

      We strive to be like all our brother men, for all men must be
      alike. Over the portals of the Palace of the World Council, there
      are words cut in the marble, which we repeat to ourselves
      whenever we are tempted:


      We repeat this to ourselves, but it helps us not.

      These words were cut long ago. There is green mould in the
      grooves of the letters and yellow streaks on the marble, which
      come from more years than men could count. And these words are
      the truth, for they are written on the Palace of the World
      Council, and the World Council is the body of all truth. Thus has
      it been ever since the Great Rebirth, and farther back than that
      no memory can reach.

      But we must never speak of the times before the Great Rebirth,
      else we are sentenced to three years in the Palace of Corrective
      Detention. It is only the Old Ones who whisper about it in the
      evenings, in the Home of the Useless. They whisper many strange
      things, of the towers which rose to the sky, in those
      Unmentionable Times, and of the wagons which moved without
      horses, and of the lights which burned without flame. But those
      times were evil. And those times passed away, when men saw the
      Great Truth which is this: that all men are one and that there is
      no will save the will of all men together.

      All men are good and wise. It is only we, Equality 7-2521, we
      alone who were born with a curse. For we are not like our
      brothers. And as we look back upon our life, we see that it has
      ever been thus and that it has brought us step by step to our
      last, supreme transgression, our crime of crimes hidden here
      under the ground.

      We remember the Home of the Infants where we lived till we were
      five years old, together with all the children of the City who
      had been born in the same year. The sleeping halls there were
      white and clean and bare of all things save one hundred beds. We
      were just like all our brothers then, save for the one
      transgression: we fought with our brothers. There are few
      offenses blacker than to fight with our brothers, at any age and
      for any cause whatsoever. The Council of the Home told us so, and
      of all the children of that year, we were locked in the cellar
      most often.

      When we were five years old, we were sent to the Home of the
      Students, where there are ten wards, for our ten years of
      learning. Men must learn till they reach their fifteenth year.
      Then they go to work. In the Home of the Students we arose when
      the big bell rang in the tower and we went to our beds when it
      rang again. Before we removed our garments, we stood in the great
      sleeping hall, and we raised our right arms, and we said all
      together with the three Teachers at the head:

      “We are nothing. Mankind is all. By the grace of our brothers are
      we allowed our lives. We exist through, by and for our brothers
      who are the State. Amen.”

      Then we slept. The sleeping halls were white and clean and bare
      of all things save one hundred beds.

      We, Equality 7-2521, were not happy in those years in the Home of
      the Students. It was not that the learning was too hard for us.
      It was that the learning was too easy. This is a great sin, to be
      born with a head which is too quick. It is not good to be
      different from our brothers, but it is evil to be superior to
      them. The Teachers told us so, and they frowned when they looked
      upon us.

      So we fought against this curse. We tried to forget our lessons,
      but we always remembered. We tried not to understand what the
      Teachers taught, but we always understood it before the Teachers
      had spoken. We looked upon Union 5-3992, who were a pale boy with
      only half a brain, and we tried to say and do as they did, that
      we might be like them, like Union 5-3992, but somehow the
      Teachers knew that we were not. And we were lashed more often
      than all the other children.

      The Teachers were just, for they had been appointed by the
      Councils, and the Councils are the voice of all justice, for they
      are the voice of all men. And if sometimes, in the secret
      darkness of our heart, we regret that which befell us on our
      fifteenth birthday, we know that it was through our own guilt. We
      had broken a law, for we had not paid heed to the words of our
      Teachers. The Teachers had said to us all:

      “Dare not choose in your minds the work you would like to do when
      you leave the Home of the Students. You shall do that which the
      Council of Vocations shall prescribe for you. For the Council of
      Vocations knows in its great wisdom where you are needed by your
      brother men, better than you can know it in your unworthy little
      minds. And if you are not needed by your brother man, there is no
      reason for you to burden the earth with your bodies.”

      We knew this well, in the years of our childhood, but our curse
      broke our will. We were guilty and we confess it here: we were
      guilty of the great Transgression of Preference. We preferred
      some work and some lessons to the others. We did not listen well
      to the history of all the Councils elected since the Great
      Rebirth. But we loved the Science of Things. We wished to know.
      We wished to know about all the things which make the earth
      around us. We asked so many questions that the Teachers forbade

      We think that there are mysteries in the sky and under the water
      and in the plants which grow. But the Council of Scholars has
      said that there are no mysteries, and the Council of Scholars
      knows all things. And we learned much from our Teachers. We
      learned that the earth is flat and that the sun revolves around
      it, which causes the day and the night. We learned the names of
      all the winds which blow over the seas and push the sails of our
      great ships. We learned how to bleed men to cure them of all

      We loved the Science of Things. And in the darkness, in the
      secret hour, when we awoke in the night and there were no
      brothers around us, but only their shapes in the beds and their
      snores, we closed our eyes, and we held our lips shut, and we
      stopped our breath, that no shudder might let our brothers see or
      hear or guess, and we thought that we wished to be sent to the
      Home of the Scholars when our time would come.

      All the great modern inventions come from the Home of the
      Scholars, such as the newest one, which was found only a hundred
      years ago, of how to make candles from wax and string; also, how
      to make glass, which is put in our windows to protect us from the
      rain. To find these things, the Scholars must study the earth and
      learn from the rivers, from the sands, from the winds and the
      rocks. And if we went to the Home of the Scholars, we could learn
      from these also. We could ask questions of these, for they do not
      forbid questions.

      And questions give us no rest. We know not why our curse makes us
      seek we know not what, ever and ever. But we cannot resist it. It
      whispers to us that there are great things on this earth of ours,
      and that we can know them if we try, and that we must know them.
      We ask, why must we know, but it has no answer to give us. We
      must know that we may know.

      So we wished to be sent to the Home of the Scholars. We wished it
      so much that our hands trembled under the blankets in the night,
      and we bit our arm to stop that other pain which we could not
      endure. It was evil and we dared not face our brothers in the
      morning. For men may wish nothing for themselves. And we were
      punished when the Council of Vocations came to give us our life
      Mandates which tell those who reach their fifteenth year what
      their work is to be for the rest of their days.

      The Council of Vocations came on the first day of spring, and
      they sat in the great hall. And we who were fifteen and all the
      Teachers came into the great hall. And the Council of Vocations
      sat on a high dais, and they had but two words to speak to each
      of the Students. They called the Students’ names, and when the
      Students stepped before them, one after another, the Council
      said: “Carpenter” or “Doctor” or “Cook” or “Leader.” Then each
      Student raised their right arm and said: “The will of our
      brothers be done.”

      Now if the Council has said “Carpenter” or “Cook,” the Students
      so assigned go to work and they do not study any further. But if
      the Council has said “Leader,” then those Students go into the
      Home of the Leaders, which is the greatest house in the City, for
      it has three stories. And there they study for many years, so
      that they may become candidates and be elected to the City
      Council and the State Council and the World Council—by a free and
      general vote of all men. But we wished not to be a Leader, even
      though it is a great honor. We wished to be a Scholar.

      So we awaited our turn in the great hall and then we heard the
      Council of Vocations call our name: “Equality 7-2521.” We walked
      to the dais, and our legs did not tremble, and we looked up at
      the Council. There were five members of the Council, three of the
      male gender and two of the female. Their hair was white and their
      faces were cracked as the clay of a dry river bed. They were old.
      They seemed older than the marble of the Temple of the World
      Council. They sat before us and they did not move. And we saw no
      breath to stir the folds of their white togas. But we knew that
      they were alive, for a finger of the hand of the oldest rose,
      pointed to us, and fell down again. This was the only thing which
      moved, for the lips of the oldest did not move as they said:
      “Street Sweeper.”

      We felt the cords of our neck grow tight as our head rose higher
      to look upon the faces of the Council, and we were happy. We knew
      we had been guilty, but now we had a way to atone for it. We
      would accept our Life Mandate, and we would work for our
      brothers, gladly and willingly, and we would erase our sin
      against them, which they did not know, but we knew. So we were
      happy, and proud of ourselves and of our victory over ourselves.
      We raised our right arm and we spoke, and our voice was the
      clearest, the steadiest voice in the hall that day, and we said:

      “The will of our brothers be done.”

      And we looked straight into the eyes of the Council, but their
      eyes were as cold blue glass buttons.

      So we went into the Home of the Street Sweepers. It is a grey
      house on a narrow street. There is a sundial in its courtyard, by
      which the Council of the Home can tell the hours of the day and
      when to ring the bell. When the bell rings, we all arise from our
      beds. The sky is green and cold in our windows to the east. The
      shadow on the sundial marks off a half-hour while we dress and
      eat our breakfast in the dining hall, where there are five long
      tables with twenty clay plates and twenty clay cups on each
      table. Then we go to work in the streets of the City, with our
      brooms and our rakes. In five hours, when the sun is high, we
      return to the Home and we eat our midday meal, for which one-half
      hour is allowed. Then we go to work again. In five hours, the
      shadows are blue on the pavements, and the sky is blue with a
      deep brightness which is not bright. We come back to have our
      dinner, which lasts one hour. Then the bell rings and we walk in
      a straight column to one of the City Halls, for the Social
      Meeting. Other columns of men arrive from the Homes of the
      different Trades. The candles are lit, and the Councils of the
      different Homes stand in a pulpit, and they speak to us of our
      duties and of our brother men. Then visiting Leaders mount the
      pulpit and they read to us the speeches which were made in the
      City Council that day, for the City Council represents all men
      and all men must know. Then we sing hymns, the Hymn of
      Brotherhood, and the Hymn of Equality, and the Hymn of the
      Collective Spirit. The sky is a soggy purple when we return to
      the Home. Then the bell rings and we walk in a straight column to
      the City Theatre for three hours of Social Recreation. There a
      play is shown upon the stage, with two great choruses from the
      Home of the Actors, which speak and answer all together, in two
      great voices. The plays are about toil and how good it is. Then
      we walk back to the Home in a straight column. The sky is like a
      black sieve pierced by silver drops that tremble, ready to burst
      through. The moths beat against the street lanterns. We go to our
      beds and we sleep, till the bell rings again. The sleeping halls
      are white and clean and bare of all things save one hundred beds.

      Thus have we lived each day of four years, until two springs ago
      when our crime happened. Thus must all men live until they are
      forty. At forty, they are worn out. At forty, they are sent to
      the Home of the Useless, where the Old Ones live. The Old Ones do
      not work, for the State takes care of them. They sit in the sun
      in summer and they sit by the fire in winter. They do not speak
      often, for they are weary. The Old Ones know that they are soon
      to die. When a miracle happens and some live to be forty-five,
      they are the Ancient Ones, and the children stare at them when
      passing by the Home of the Useless. Such is to be our life, as
      that of all our brothers and of the brothers who came before us.

      Such would have been our life, had we not committed our crime
      which changed all things for us. And it was our curse which drove
      us to our crime. We had been a good Street Sweeper and like all
      our brother Street Sweepers, save for our cursed wish to know. We
      looked too long at the stars at night, and at the trees and the
      earth. And when we cleaned the yard of the Home of the Scholars,
      we gathered the glass vials, the pieces of metal, the dried bones
      which they had discarded. We wished to keep these things and to
      study them, but we had no place to hide them. So we carried them
      to the City Cesspool. And then we made the discovery.

      It was on a day of the spring before last. We Street Sweepers
      work in brigades of three, and we were with Union 5-3992, they of
      the half-brain, and with International 4-8818. Now Union 5-3992
      are a sickly lad and sometimes they are stricken with
      convulsions, when their mouth froths and their eyes turn white.
      But International 4-8818 are different. They are a tall, strong
      youth and their eyes are like fireflies, for there is laughter in
      their eyes. We cannot look upon International 4-8818 and not
      smile in answer. For this they were not liked in the Home of the
      Students, as it is not proper to smile without reason. And also
      they were not liked because they took pieces of coal and they
      drew pictures upon the walls, and they were pictures which made
      men laugh. But it is only our brothers in the Home of the Artists
      who are permitted to draw pictures, so International 4-8818 were
      sent to the Home of the Street Sweepers, like ourselves.

      International 4-8818 and we are friends. This is an evil thing to
      say, for it is a transgression, the great Transgression of
      Preference, to love any among men better than the others, since
      we must love all men and all men are our friends. So
      International 4-8818 and we have never spoken of it. But we know.
      We know, when we look into each other’s eyes. And when we look
      thus without words, we both know other things also, strange
      things for which there are no words, and these things frighten

      So on that day of the spring before last, Union 5-3992 were
      stricken with convulsions on the edge of the City, near the City
      Theatre. We left them to lie in the shade of the Theatre tent and
      we went with International 4-8818 to finish our work. We came
      together to the great ravine behind the Theatre. It is empty save
      for trees and weeds. Beyond the ravine there is a plain, and
      beyond the plain there lies the Uncharted Forest, about which men
      must not think.

      We were gathering the papers and the rags which the wind had
      blown from the Theatre, when we saw an iron bar among the weeds.
      It was old and rusted by many rains. We pulled with all our
      strength, but we could not move it. So we called International
      4-8818, and together we scraped the earth around the bar. Of a
      sudden the earth fell in before us, and we saw an old iron grill
      over a black hole.

      International 4-8818 stepped back. But we pulled at the grill and
      it gave way. And then we saw iron rings as steps leading down a
      shaft into a darkness without bottom.

      “We shall go down,” we said to International 4-8818.

      “It is forbidden,” they answered.

      We said: “The Council does not know of this hole, so it cannot be

      And they answered: “Since the Council does not know of this hole,
      there can be no law permitting to enter it. And everything which
      is not permitted by law is forbidden.”

      But we said: “We shall go, none the less.”

      They were frightened, but they stood by and watched us go.

      We hung on the iron rings with our hands and our feet. We could
      see nothing below us. And above us the hole open upon the sky
      grew smaller and smaller, till it came to be the size of a
      button. But still we went down. Then our foot touched the ground.
      We rubbed our eyes, for we could not see. Then our eyes became
      used to the darkness, but we could not believe what we saw.

      No men known to us could have built this place, nor the men known
      to our brothers who lived before us, and yet it was built by men.
      It was a great tunnel. Its walls were hard and smooth to the
      touch; it felt like stone, but it was not stone. On the ground
      there were long thin tracks of iron, but it was not iron; it felt
      smooth and cold as glass. We knelt, and we crawled forward, our
      hand groping along the iron line to see where it would lead. But
      there was an unbroken night ahead. Only the iron tracks glowed
      through it, straight and white, calling us to follow. But we
      could not follow, for we were losing the puddle of light behind
      us. So we turned and we crawled back, our hand on the iron line.
      And our heart beat in our fingertips, without reason. And then we

      We knew suddenly that this place was left from the Unmentionable
      Times. So it was true, and those Times had been, and all the
      wonders of those Times. Hundreds upon hundreds of years ago men
      knew secrets which we have lost. And we thought: “This is a foul
      place. They are damned who touch the things of the Unmentionable
      Times.” But our hand which followed the track, as we crawled,
      clung to the iron as if it would not leave it, as if the skin of
      our hand were thirsty and begging of the metal some secret fluid
      beating in its coldness.

      We returned to the earth. International 4-8818 looked upon us and
      stepped back.

      “Equality 7-2521,” they said, “your face is white.”

      But we could not speak and we stood looking upon them.

      They backed away, as if they dared not touch us. Then they
      smiled, but it was not a gay smile; it was lost and pleading. But
      still we could not speak. Then they said:

      “We shall report our find to the City Council and both of us will
      be rewarded.”

      And then we spoke. Our voice was hard and there was no mercy in
      our voice. We said:

      “We shall not report our find to the City Council. We shall not
      report it to any men.”

      They raised their hands to their ears, for never had they heard
      such words as these.

      “International 4-8818,” we asked, “will you report us to the
      Council and see us lashed to death before your eyes?”

      They stood straight all of a sudden and they answered: “Rather
      would we die.”

      “Then,” we said, “keep silent. This place is ours. This place
      belongs to us, Equality 7-2521, and to no other men on earth. And
      if ever we surrender it, we shall surrender our life with it

      Then we saw that the eyes of International 4-8818 were full to
      the lids with tears they dared not drop. They whispered, and
      their voice trembled, so that their words lost all shape:

      “The will of the Council is above all things, for it is the will
      of our brothers, which is holy. But if you wish it so, we shall
      obey you. Rather shall we be evil with you than good with all our
      brothers. May the Council have mercy upon both our hearts!”

      Then we walked away together and back to the Home of the Street
      Sweepers. And we walked in silence.

      Thus did it come to pass that each night, when the stars are high
      and the Street Sweepers sit in the City Theatre, we, Equality
      7-2521, steal out and run through the darkness to our place. It
      is easy to leave the Theatre; when the candles are blown out and
      the Actors come onto the stage, no eyes can see us as we crawl
      under our seat and under the cloth of the tent. Later, it is easy
      to steal through the shadows and fall in line next to
      International 4-8818, as the column leaves the Theatre. It is
      dark in the streets and there are no men about, for no men may
      walk through the City when they have no mission to walk there.
      Each night, we run to the ravine, and we remove the stones which
      we have piled upon the iron grill to hide it from the men. Each
      night, for three hours, we are under the earth, alone.

      We have stolen candles from the Home of the Street Sweepers, we
      have stolen flints and knives and paper, and we have brought them
      to this place. We have stolen glass vials and powders and acids
      from the Home of the Scholars. Now we sit in the tunnel for three
      hours each night and we study. We melt strange metals, and we mix
      acids, and we cut open the bodies of the animals which we find in
      the City Cesspool. We have built an oven of the bricks we
      gathered in the streets. We burn the wood we find in the ravine.
      The fire flickers in the oven and blue shadows dance upon the
      walls, and there is no sound of men to disturb us.

      We have stolen manuscripts. This is a great offense. Manuscripts
      are precious, for our brothers in the Home of the Clerks spend
      one year to copy one single script in their clear handwriting.
      Manuscripts are rare and they are kept in the Home of the
      Scholars. So we sit under the earth and we read the stolen
      scripts. Two years have passed since we found this place. And in
      these two years we have learned more than we had learned in the
      ten years of the Home of the Students.

      We have learned things which are not in the scripts. We have
      solved secrets of which the Scholars have no knowledge. We have
      come to see how great is the unexplored, and many lifetimes will
      not bring us to the end of our quest. But we wish no end to our
      quest. We wish nothing, save to be alone and to learn, and to
      feel as if with each day our sight were growing sharper than the
      hawk’s and clearer than rock crystal.

      Strange are the ways of evil. We are false in the faces of our
      brothers. We are defying the will of our Councils. We alone, of
      the thousands who walk this earth, we alone in this hour are
      doing a work which has no purpose save that we wish to do it. The
      evil of our crime is not for the human mind to probe. The nature
      of our punishment, if it be discovered, is not for the human
      heart to ponder. Never, not in the memory of the Ancient Ones’
      Ancients, never have men done that which we are doing.

      And yet there is no shame in us and no regret. We say to
      ourselves that we are a wretch and a traitor. But we feel no
      burden upon our spirit and no fear in our heart. And it seems to
      us that our spirit is clear as a lake troubled by no eyes save
      those of the sun. And in our heart—strange are the ways of
      evil!—in our heart there is the first peace we have known in
      twenty years.

      PART TWO

      Liberty 5-3000... Liberty five-three thousand ... Liberty

      We wish to write this name. We wish to speak it, but we dare not
      speak it above a whisper. For men are forbidden to take notice of
      women, and women are forbidden to take notice of men. But we
      think of one among women, they whose name is Liberty 5-3000, and
      we think of no others. The women who have been assigned to work
      the soil live in the Homes of the Peasants beyond the City. Where
      the City ends there is a great road winding off to the north, and
      we Street Sweepers must keep this road clean to the first
      milepost. There is a hedge along the road, and beyond the hedge
      lie the fields. The fields are black and ploughed, and they lie
      like a great fan before us, with their furrows gathered in some
      hand beyond the sky, spreading forth from that hand, opening wide
      apart as they come toward us, like black pleats that sparkle with
      thin, green spangles. Women work in the fields, and their white
      tunics in the wind are like the wings of sea-gulls beating over
      the black soil.

      And there it was that we saw Liberty 5-3000 walking along the
      furrows. Their body was straight and thin as a blade of iron.
      Their eyes were dark and hard and glowing, with no fear in them,
      no kindness and no guilt. Their hair was golden as the sun; their
      hair flew in the wind, shining and wild, as if it defied men to
      restrain it. They threw seeds from their hand as if they deigned
      to fling a scornful gift, and the earth was a beggar under their

      We stood still; for the first time did we know fear, and then
      pain. And we stood still that we might not spill this pain more
      precious than pleasure.

      Then we heard a voice from the others call their name: “Liberty
      5-3000,” and they turned and walked back. Thus we learned their
      name, and we stood watching them go, till their white tunic was
      lost in the blue mist.

      And the following day, as we came to the northern road, we kept
      our eyes upon Liberty 5-3000 in the field. And each day
      thereafter we knew the illness of waiting for our hour on the
      northern road. And there we looked at Liberty 5-3000 each day. We
      know not whether they looked at us also, but we think they did.
      Then one day they came close to the hedge, and suddenly they
      turned to us. They turned in a whirl and the movement of their
      body stopped, as if slashed off, as suddenly as it had started.
      They stood still as a stone, and they looked straight upon us,
      straight into our eyes. There was no smile on their face, and no
      welcome. But their face was taut, and their eyes were dark. Then
      they turned as swiftly, and they walked away from us.

      But the following day, when we came to the road, they smiled.
      They smiled to us and for us. And we smiled in answer. Their head
      fell back, and their arms fell, as if their arms and their thin
      white neck were stricken suddenly with a great lassitude. They
      were not looking upon us, but upon the sky. Then they glanced at
      us over their shoulder, as we felt as if a hand had touched our
      body, slipping softly from our lips to our feet.

      Every morning thereafter, we greeted each other with our eyes. We
      dared not speak. It is a transgression to speak to men of other
      Trades, save in groups at the Social Meetings. But once, standing
      at the hedge, we raised our hand to our forehead and then moved
      it slowly, palm down, toward Liberty 5-3000. Had the others seen
      it, they could have guessed nothing, for it looked only as if we
      were shading our eyes from the sun. But Liberty 5-3000 saw it and
      understood. They raised their hand to their forehead and moved it
      as we had. Thus, each day, we greet Liberty 5-3000, and they
      answer, and no men can suspect.

      We do not wonder at this new sin of ours. It is our second
      Transgression of Preference, for we do not think of all our
      brothers, as we must, but only of one, and their name is Liberty
      5-3000. We do not know why we think of them. We do not know why,
      when we think of them, we feel all of a sudden that the earth is
      good and that it is not a burden to live. We do not think of them
      as Liberty 5-3000 any longer. We have given them a name in our
      thoughts. We call them the Golden One. But it is a sin to give
      men names which distinguish them from other men. Yet we call them
      the Golden One, for they are not like the others. The Golden One
      are not like the others.

      And we take no heed of the law which says that men may not think
      of women, save at the Time of Mating. This is the time each
      spring when all the men older than twenty and all the women older
      than eighteen are sent for one night to the City Palace of
      Mating. And each of the men have one of the women assigned to
      them by the Council of Eugenics. Children are born each winter,
      but women never see their children and children never know their
      parents. Twice have we been sent to the Palace of Mating, but it
      is an ugly and shameful matter, of which we do not like to think.

      We had broken so many laws, and today we have broken one more.
      Today, we spoke to the Golden One.

      The other women were far off in the field, when we stopped at the
      hedge by the side of the road. The Golden One were kneeling alone
      at the moat which runs through the field. And the drops of water
      falling from their hands, as they raised the water to their lips,
      were like sparks of fire in the sun. Then the Golden One saw us,
      and they did not move, kneeling there, looking at us, and circles
      of light played upon their white tunic, from the sun on the water
      of the moat, and one sparkling drop fell from a finger of their
      hand held as frozen in the air.

      Then the Golden One rose and walked to the hedge, as if they had
      heard a command in our eyes. The two other Street Sweepers of our
      brigade were a hundred paces away down the road. And we thought
      that International 4-8818 would not betray us, and Union 5-3992
      would not understand. So we looked straight upon the Golden One,
      and we saw the shadows of their lashes on their white cheeks and
      the sparks of sun on their lips. And we said:

      “You are beautiful, Liberty 5-3000.”

      Their face did not move and they did not avert their eyes. Only
      their eyes grew wider, and there was triumph in their eyes, and
      it was not triumph over us, but over things we could not guess.

      Then they asked:

      “What is your name?”

      “Equality 7-2521,” we answered.

      “You are not one of our brothers, Equality 7-2521, for we do not
      wish you to be.”

      We cannot say what they meant, for there are no words for their
      meaning, but we know it without words and we knew it then.

      “No,” we answered, “nor are you one of our sisters.”

      “If you see us among scores of women, will you look upon us?”

      “We shall look upon you, Liberty 5-3000, if we see you among all
      the women of the earth.”

      Then they asked:

      “Are Street Sweepers sent to different parts of the City or do
      they always work in the same places?”

      “They always work in the same places,” we answered, “and no one
      will take this road away from us.”

      “Your eyes,” they said, “are not like the eyes of any among men.”

      And suddenly, without cause for the thought which came to us, we
      felt cold, cold to our stomach.

      “How old are you?” we asked.

      They understood our thought, for they lowered their eyes for the
      first time.

      “Seventeen,” they whispered.

      And we sighed, as if a burden had been taken from us, for we had
      been thinking without reason of the Palace of Mating. And we
      thought that we would not let the Golden One be sent to the
      Palace. How to prevent it, how to bar the will of the Councils,
      we knew not, but we knew suddenly that we would. Only we do not
      know why such thought came to us, for these ugly matters bear no
      relation to us and the Golden One. What relation can they bear?

      Still, without reason, as we stood there by the hedge, we felt
      our lips drawn tight with hatred, a sudden hatred for all our
      brother men. And the Golden One saw it and smiled slowly, and
      there was in their smile the first sadness we had seen in them.
      We think that in the wisdom of women the Golden One had
      understood more than we can understand.

      Then three of the sisters in the field appeared, coming toward
      the road, so the Golden One walked away from us. They took the
      bag of seeds, and they threw the seeds into the furrows of earth
      as they walked away. But the seeds flew wildly, for the hand of
      the Golden One was trembling.

      Yet as we walked back to the Home of the Street Sweepers, we felt
      that we wanted to sing, without reason. So we were reprimanded
      tonight, in the dining hall, for without knowing it we had begun
      to sing aloud some tune we had never heard. But it is not proper
      to sing without reason, save at the Social Meetings.

      “We are singing because we are happy,” we answered the one of the
      Home Council who reprimanded us.

      “Indeed you are happy,” they answered. “How else can men be when
      they live for their brothers?”

      And now, sitting here in our tunnel, we wonder about these words.
      It is forbidden, not to be happy. For, as it has been explained
      to us, men are free and the earth belongs to them; and all things
      on earth belong to all men; and the will of all men together is
      good for all; and so all men must be happy.

      Yet as we stand at night in the great hall, removing our garments
      for sleep, we look upon our brothers and we wonder. The heads of
      our brothers are bowed. The eyes of our brothers are dull, and
      never do they look one another in the eyes. The shoulders of our
      brothers are hunched, and their muscles are drawn, as if their
      bodies were shrinking and wished to shrink out of sight. And a
      word steals into our mind, as we look upon our brothers, and that
      word is fear.

      There is fear hanging in the air of the sleeping halls, and in
      the air of the streets. Fear walks through the City, fear without
      name, without shape. All men feel it and none dare to speak.

      We feel it also, when we are in the Home of the Street Sweepers.
      But here, in our tunnel, we feel it no longer. The air is pure
      under the ground. There is no odor of men. And these three hours
      give us strength for our hours above the ground.

      Our body is betraying us, for the Council of the Home looks with
      suspicion upon us. It is not good to feel too much joy nor to be
      glad that our body lives. For we matter not and it must not
      matter to us whether we live or die, which is to be as our
      brothers will it. But we, Equality 7-2521, are glad to be living.
      If this is a vice, then we wish no virtue.

      Yet our brothers are not like us. All is not well with our
      brothers. There are Fraternity 2-5503, a quiet boy with wise,
      kind eyes, who cry suddenly, without reason, in the midst of day
      or night, and their body shakes with sobs they cannot explain.
      There are Solidarity 9-6347, who are a bright youth, without fear
      in the day; but they scream in their sleep, and they scream:
      “Help us! Help us! Help us!” into the night, in a voice which
      chills our bones, but the Doctors cannot cure Solidarity 9-6347.

      And as we all undress at night, in the dim light of the candles,
      our brothers are silent, for they dare not speak the thoughts of
      their minds. For all must agree with all, and they cannot know if
      their thoughts are the thoughts of all, and so they fear to
      speak. And they are glad when the candles are blown for the
      night. But we, Equality 7-2521, look through the window upon the
      sky, and there is peace in the sky, and cleanliness, and dignity.
      And beyond the City there lies the plain, and beyond the plain,
      black upon the black sky, there lies the Uncharted Forest.

      We do not wish to look upon the Uncharted Forest. We do not wish
      to think of it. But ever do our eyes return to that black patch
      upon the sky. Men never enter the Uncharted Forest, for there is
      no power to explore it and no path to lead among its ancient
      trees which stand as guards of fearful secrets. It is whispered
      that once or twice in a hundred years, one among the men of the
      City escape alone and run to the Uncharted Forest, without call
      or reason. These men do not return. They perish from hunger and
      from the claws of the wild beasts which roam the Forest. But our
      Councils say that this is only a legend. We have heard that there
      are many Uncharted Forests over the land, among the Cities. And
      it is whispered that they have grown over the ruins of many
      cities of the Unmentionable Times. The trees have swallowed the
      ruins, and the bones under the ruins, and all the things which
      perished. And as we look upon the Uncharted Forest far in the
      night, we think of the secrets of the Unmentionable Times. And we
      wonder how it came to pass that these secrets were lost to the
      world. We have heard the legends of the great fighting, in which
      many men fought on one side and only a few on the other. These
      few were the Evil Ones and they were conquered. Then great fires
      raged over the land. And in these fires the Evil Ones and all the
      things made by the Evil Ones were burned. And the fire which is
      called the Dawn of the Great Rebirth, was the Script Fire where
      all the scripts of the Evil Ones were burned, and with them all
      the words of the Evil Ones. Great mountains of flame stood in the
      squares of the Cities for three months. Then came the Great

      The words of the Evil Ones... The words of the Unmentionable
      Times... What are the words which we have lost?

      May the Council have mercy upon us! We had no wish to write such
      a question, and we knew not what we were doing till we had
      written it. We shall not ask this question and we shall not think
      it. We shall not call death upon our head.

      And yet... And yet... There is some word, one single word which
      is not in the language of men, but which had been. And this is
      the Unspeakable Word, which no men may speak nor hear. But
      sometimes, and it is rare, sometimes, somewhere, one among men
      find that word. They find it upon scraps of old manuscripts or
      cut into the fragments of ancient stones. But when they speak it
      they are put to death. There is no crime punished by death in
      this world, save this one crime of speaking the Unspeakable Word.

      We have seen one of such men burned alive in the square of the
      City. And it was a sight which has stayed with us through the
      years, and it haunts us, and follows us, and it gives us no rest.
      We were a child then, ten years old. And we stood in the great
      square with all the children and all the men of the City, sent to
      behold the burning. They brought the Transgressor out into the
      square and they led them to the pyre. They had torn out the
      tongue of the Transgressor, so that they could speak no longer.
      The Transgressor were young and tall. They had hair of gold and
      eyes blue as morning. They walked to the pyre, and their step did
      not falter. And of all the faces on that square, of all the faces
      which shrieked and screamed and spat curses upon them, theirs was
      the calmest and the happiest face.

      As the chains were wound over their body at the stake, and a
      flame set to the pyre, the Transgressor looked upon the City.
      There was a thin thread of blood running from the corner of their
      mouth, but their lips were smiling. And a monstrous thought came
      to us then, which has never left us. We had heard of Saints.
      There are the Saints of Labor, and the Saints of the Councils,
      and the Saints of the Great Rebirth. But we had never seen a
      Saint nor what the likeness of a Saint should be. And we thought
      then, standing in the square, that the likeness of a Saint was
      the face we saw before us in the flames, the face of the
      Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word.

      As the flames rose, a thing happened which no eyes saw but ours,
      else we would not be living today. Perhaps it had only seemed to
      us. But it seemed to us that the eyes of the Transgressor had
      chosen us from the crowd and were looking straight upon us. There
      was no pain in their eyes and no knowledge of the agony of their
      body. There was only joy in them, and pride, a pride holier than
      is fit for human pride to be. And it seemed as if these eyes were
      trying to tell us something through the flames, to send into our
      eyes some word without sound. And it seemed as if these eyes were
      begging us to gather that word and not to let it go from us and
      from the earth. But the flames rose and we could not guess the

      What—even if we have to burn for it like the Saint of the
      Pyre—what is the Unspeakable Word?


      We, Equality 7-2521, have discovered a new power of nature. And
      we have discovered it alone, and we alone are to know it.

      It is said. Now let us be lashed for it, if we must. The Council
      of Scholars has said that we all know the things which exist and
      therefore the things which are not known by all do not exist. But
      we think that the Council of Scholars is blind. The secrets of
      this earth are not for all men to see, but only for those who
      will seek them. We know, for we have found a secret unknown to
      all our brothers.

      We know not what this power is nor whence it comes. But we know
      its nature, we have watched it and worked with it. We saw it
      first two years ago. One night, we were cutting open the body of
      a dead frog when we saw its leg jerking. It was dead, yet it
      moved. Some power unknown to men was making it move. We could not
      understand it. Then, after many tests, we found the answer. The
      frog had been hanging on a wire of copper; and it had been the
      metal of our knife which had sent the strange power to the copper
      through the brine of the frog’s body. We put a piece of copper
      and a piece of zinc into a jar of brine, we touched a wire to
      them, and there, under our fingers, was a miracle which had never
      occurred before, a new miracle and a new power.

      This discovery haunted us. We followed it in preference to all
      our studies. We worked with it, we tested it in more ways than we
      can describe, and each step was as another miracle unveiling
      before us. We came to know that we had found the greatest power
      on earth. For it defies all the laws known to men. It makes the
      needle move and turn on the compass which we stole from the Home
      of the Scholars; but we had been taught, when still a child, that
      the loadstone points to the north and that this is a law which
      nothing can change; yet our new power defies all laws. We found
      that it causes lightning, and never have men known what causes
      lightning. In thunderstorms, we raised a tall rod of iron by the
      side of our hole, and we watched it from below. We have seen the
      lightning strike it again and again. And now we know that metal
      draws the power of the sky, and that metal can be made to give it

      We have built strange things with this discovery of ours. We used
      for it the copper wires which we found here under the ground. We
      have walked the length of our tunnel, with a candle lighting the
      way. We could go no farther than half a mile, for earth and rock
      had fallen at both ends. But we gathered all the things we found
      and we brought them to our work place. We found strange boxes
      with bars of metal inside, with many cords and strands and coils
      of metal. We found wires that led to strange little globes of
      glass on the walls; they contained threads of metal thinner than
      a spider’s web.

      These things help us in our work. We do not understand them, but
      we think that the men of the Unmentionable Times had known our
      power of the sky, and these things had some relation to it. We do
      not know, but we shall learn. We cannot stop now, even though it
      frightens us that we are alone in our knowledge.

      No single one can possess greater wisdom than the many Scholars
      who are elected by all men for their wisdom. Yet we can. We do.
      We have fought against saying it, but now it is said. We do not
      care. We forget all men, all laws and all things save our metals
      and our wires. So much is still to be learned! So long a road
      lies before us, and what care we if we must travel it alone!


      Many days passed before we could speak to the Golden One again.
      But then came the day when the sky turned white, as if the sun
      had burst and spread its flame in the air, and the fields lay
      still without breath, and the dust of the road was white in the
      glow. So the women of the field were weary, and they tarried over
      their work, and they were far from the road when we came. But the
      Golden One stood alone at the hedge, waiting. We stopped and we
      saw that their eyes, so hard and scornful to the world, were
      looking at us as if they would obey any word we might speak.

      And we said:

      “We have given you a name in our thoughts, Liberty 5-3000.”

      “What is our name?” they asked.

      “The Golden One.”

      “Nor do we call you Equality 7-2521 when we think of you.”

      “What name have you given us?” They looked straight into our eyes
      and they held their head high and they answered:

      “The Unconquered.”

      For a long time we could not speak. Then we said:

      “Such thoughts as these are forbidden, Golden One.”

      “But you think such thoughts as these and you wish us to think

      We looked into their eyes and we could not lie.

      “Yes,” we whispered, and they smiled, and then we said: “Our
      dearest one, do not obey us.”

      They stepped back, and their eyes were wide and still.

      “Speak these words again,” they whispered.

      “Which words?” we asked. But they did not answer, and we knew it.

      “Our dearest one,” we whispered.

      Never have men said this to women.

      The head of the Golden One bowed slowly, and they stood still
      before us, their arms at their sides, the palms of their hands
      turned to us, as if their body were delivered in submission to
      our eyes. And we could not speak.

      Then they raised their head, and they spoke simply and gently, as
      if they wished us to forget some anxiety of their own.

      “The day is hot,” they said, “and you have worked for many hours
      and you must be weary.”

      “No,” we answered.

      “It is cooler in the fields,” they said, “and there is water to
      drink. Are you thirsty?”

      “Yes,” we answered, “but we cannot cross the hedge.”

      “We shall bring the water to you,” they said.

      Then they knelt by the moat, they gathered water in their two
      hands, they rose and they held the water out to our lips.

      We do not know if we drank that water. We only knew suddenly that
      their hands were empty, but we were still holding our lips to
      their hands, and that they knew it, but did not move.

      We raised our head and stepped back. For we did not understand
      what had made us do this, and we were afraid to understand it.

      And the Golden One stepped back, and stood looking upon their
      hands in wonder. Then the Golden One moved away, even though no
      others were coming, and they moved, stepping back, as if they
      could not turn from us, their arms bent before them, as if they
      could not lower their hands.


      We made it. We created it. We brought it forth from the night of
      the ages. We alone. Our hands. Our mind. Ours alone and only.

      We know not what we are saying. Our head is reeling. We look upon
      the light which we have made. We shall be forgiven for anything
      we say tonight....

      Tonight, after more days and trials than we can count, we
      finished building a strange thing, from the remains of the
      Unmentionable Times, a box of glass, devised to give forth the
      power of the sky of greater strength than we had ever achieved
      before. And when we put our wires to this box, when we closed the
      current—the wire glowed! It came to life, it turned red, and a
      circle of light lay on the stone before us.

      We stood, and we held our head in our hands. We could not
      conceive of that which we had created. We had touched no flint,
      made no fire. Yet here was light, light that came from nowhere,
      light from the heart of metal.

      We blew out the candle. Darkness swallowed us. There was nothing
      left around us, nothing save night and a thin thread of flame in
      it, as a crack in the wall of a prison. We stretched our hands to
      the wire, and we saw our fingers in the red glow. We could not
      see our body nor feel it, and in that moment nothing existed save
      our two hands over a wire glowing in a black abyss.

      Then we thought of the meaning of that which lay before us. We
      can light our tunnel, and the City, and all the Cities of the
      world with nothing save metal and wires. We can give our brothers
      a new light, cleaner and brighter than any they have ever known.
      The power of the sky can be made to do men’s bidding. There are
      no limits to its secrets and its might, and it can be made to
      grant us anything if we but choose to ask.

      Then we knew what we must do. Our discovery is too great for us
      to waste our time in sweeping the streets. We must not keep our
      secret to ourselves, nor buried under the ground. We must bring
      it into the sight of all men. We need all our time, we need the
      work rooms of the Home of the Scholars, we want the help of our
      brother Scholars and their wisdom joined to ours. There is so
      much work ahead for all of us, for all the Scholars of the world.

      In a month, the World Council of Scholars is to meet in our City.
      It is a great Council, to which the wisest of all lands are
      elected, and it meets once a year in the different Cities of the
      earth. We shall go to this Council and we shall lay before them,
      as our gift, this glass box with the power of the sky. We shall
      confess everything to them. They will see, understand and
      forgive. For our gift is greater than our transgression. They
      will explain it to the Council of Vocations, and we shall be
      assigned to the Home of the Scholars. This has never been done
      before, but neither has a gift such as ours ever been offered to

      We must wait. We must guard our tunnel as we had never guarded it
      before. For should any men save the Scholars learn of our secret,
      they would not understand it, nor would they believe us. They
      would see nothing, save our crime of working alone, and they
      would destroy us and our light. We care not about our body, but
      our light is...

      Yes, we do care. For the first time do we care about our body.
      For this wire is as a part of our body, as a vein torn from us,
      glowing with our blood. Are we proud of this thread of metal, or
      of our hands which made it, or is there a line to divide these

      We stretch out our arms. For the first time do we know how strong
      our arms are. And a strange thought comes to us: we wonder, for
      the first time in our life, what we look like. Men never see
      their own faces and never ask their brothers about it, for it is
      evil to have concern for their own faces or bodies. But tonight,
      for a reason we cannot fathom, we wish it were possible to us to
      know the likeness of our own person.

      PART SIX

      We have not written for thirty days. For thirty days we have not
      been here, in our tunnel. We had been caught. It happened on that
      night when we wrote last. We forgot, that night, to watch the
      sand in the glass which tells us when three hours have passed and
      it is time to return to the City Theatre. When we remembered it,
      the sand had run out.

      We hastened to the Theatre. But the big tent stood grey and
      silent against the sky. The streets of the City lay before us,
      dark and empty. If we went back to hide in our tunnel, we would
      be found and our light found with us. So we walked to the Home of
      the Street Sweepers.

      When the Council of the Home questioned us, we looked upon the
      faces of the Council, but there was no curiosity in those faces,
      and no anger, and no mercy. So when the oldest of them asked us:
      “Where have you been?” we thought of our glass box and of our
      light, and we forgot all else. And we answered:

      “We will not tell you.”

      The oldest did not question us further. They turned to the two
      youngest, and said, and their voice was bored:

      “Take our brother Equality 7-2521 to the Palace of Corrective
      Detention. Lash them until they tell.”

      So we were taken to the Stone Room under the Palace of Corrective
      Detention. This room has no windows and it is empty save for an
      iron post. Two men stood by the post, naked but for leather
      aprons and leather hoods over their faces. Those who had brought
      us departed, leaving us to the two Judges who stood in a corner
      of the room. The Judges were small, thin men, grey and bent. They
      gave the signal to the two strong hooded ones.

      They tore the clothes from our body, they threw us down upon our
      knees and they tied our hands to the iron post. The first blow of
      the lash felt as if our spine had been cut in two. The second
      blow stopped the first, and for a second we felt nothing, then
      the pain struck us in our throat and fire ran in our lungs
      without air. But we did not cry out.

      The lash whistled like a singing wind. We tried to count the
      blows, but we lost count. We knew that the blows were falling
      upon our back. Only we felt nothing upon our back any longer. A
      flaming grill kept dancing before our eyes, and we thought of
      nothing save that grill, a grill, a grill of red squares, and
      then we knew that we were looking at the squares of the iron
      grill in the door, and there were also the squares of stone on
      the walls, and the squares which the lash was cutting upon our
      back, crossing and re-crossing itself in our flesh.

      Then we saw a fist before us. It knocked our chin up, and we saw
      the red froth of our mouth on the withered fingers, and the Judge

      “Where have you been?”

      But we jerked our head away, hid our face upon our tied hands,
      and bit our lips.

      The lash whistled again. We wondered who was sprinkling burning
      coal dust upon the floor, for we saw drops of red twinkling on
      the stones around us.

      Then we knew nothing, save two voices snarling steadily, one
      after the other, even though we knew they were speaking many
      minutes apart:

      “Where have you been where have you been where have you been
      where have you been?...”

      And our lips moved, but the sound trickled back into our throat,
      and the sound was only:

      “The light... The light... The light....”

      Then we knew nothing.

      We opened our eyes, lying on our stomach on the brick floor of a
      cell. We looked upon two hands lying far before us on the bricks,
      and we moved them, and we knew that they were our hands. But we
      could not move our body. Then we smiled, for we thought of the
      light and that we had not betrayed it.

      We lay in our cell for many days. The door opened twice each day,
      once for the men who brought us bread and water, and once for the
      Judges. Many Judges came to our cell, first the humblest and then
      the most honored Judges of the City. They stood before us in
      their white togas, and they asked:

      “Are you ready to speak?”

      But we shook our head, lying before them on the floor. And they

      We counted each day and each night as it passed. Then, tonight,
      we knew that we must escape. For tomorrow the World Council of
      Scholars is to meet in our City.

      It was easy to escape from the Palace of Corrective Detention.
      The locks are old on the doors and there are no guards about.
      There is no reason to have guards, for men have never defied the
      Councils so far as to escape from whatever place they were
      ordered to be. Our body is healthy and strength returns to it
      speedily. We lunged against the door and it gave way. We stole
      through the dark passages, and through the dark streets, and down
      into our tunnel.

      We lit the candle and we saw that our place had not been found
      and nothing had been touched. And our glass box stood before us
      on the cold oven, as we had left it. What matter they now, the
      scars upon our back!

      Tomorrow, in the full light of day, we shall take our box, and
      leave our tunnel open, and walk through the streets to the Home
      of the Scholars. We shall put before them the greatest gift ever
      offered to men. We shall tell them the truth. We shall hand to
      them, as our confession, these pages we have written. We shall
      join our hands to theirs, and we shall work together, with the
      power of the sky, for the glory of mankind. Our blessing upon
      you, our brothers! Tomorrow, you will take us back into your fold
      and we shall be an outcast no longer. Tomorrow we shall be one of
      you again. Tomorrow...


      It is dark here in the forest. The leaves rustle over our head,
      black against the last gold of the sky. The moss is soft and
      warm. We shall sleep on this moss for many nights, till the
      beasts of the forest come to tear our body. We have no bed now,
      save the moss, and no future, save the beasts.

      We are old now, yet we were young this morning, when we carried
      our glass box through the streets of the City to the Home of the
      Scholars. No men stopped us, for there were none about from the
      Palace of Corrective Detention, and the others knew nothing. No
      men stopped us at the gate. We walked through empty passages and
      into the great hall where the World Council of Scholars sat in
      solemn meeting.

      We saw nothing as we entered, save the sky in the great windows,
      blue and glowing. Then we saw the Scholars who sat around a long
      table; they were as shapeless clouds huddled at the rise of the
      great sky. There were men whose famous names we knew, and others
      from distant lands whose names we had not heard. We saw a great
      painting on the wall over their heads, of the twenty illustrious
      men who had invented the candle.

      All the heads of the Council turned to us as we entered. These
      great and wise of the earth did not know what to think of us, and
      they looked upon us with wonder and curiosity, as if we were a
      miracle. It is true that our tunic was torn and stained with
      brown stains which had been blood. We raised our right arm and we

      “Our greeting to you, our honored brothers of the World Council
      of Scholars!”

      Then Collective 0-0009, the oldest and wisest of the Council,
      spoke and asked:

      “Who are you, our brother? For you do not look like a Scholar.”

      “Our name is Equality 7-2521,” we answered, “and we are a Street
      Sweeper of this City.”

      Then it was as if a great wind had stricken the hall, for all the
      Scholars spoke at once, and they were angry and frightened.

      “A Street Sweeper! A Street Sweeper walking in upon the World
      Council of Scholars! It is not to be believed! It is against all
      the rules and all the laws!”

      But we knew how to stop them.

      “Our brothers!” we said. “We matter not, nor our transgression.
      It is only our brother men who matter. Give no thought to us, for
      we are nothing, but listen to our words, for we bring you a gift
      such as had never been brought to men. Listen to us, for we hold
      the future of mankind in our hands.”

      Then they listened.

      We placed our glass box upon the table before them. We spoke of
      it, and of our long quest, and of our tunnel, and of our escape
      from the Palace of Corrective Detention. Not a hand moved in that
      hall, as we spoke, nor an eye. Then we put the wires to the box,
      and they all bent forward and sat still, watching. And we stood
      still, our eyes upon the wire. And slowly, slowly as a flush of
      blood, a red flame trembled in the wire. Then the wire glowed.

      But terror struck the men of the Council. They leapt to their
      feet, they ran from the table, and they stood pressed against the
      wall, huddled together, seeking the warmth of one another’s
      bodies to give them courage.

      We looked upon them and we laughed and said:

      “Fear nothing, our brothers. There is a great power in these
      wires, but this power is tamed. It is yours. We give it to you.”

      Still they would not move.

      “We give you the power of the sky!” we cried. “We give you the
      key to the earth! Take it, and let us be one of you, the humblest
      among you. Let us all work together, and harness this power, and
      make it ease the toil of men. Let us throw away our candles and
      our torches. Let us flood our cities with light. Let us bring a
      new light to men!”

      But they looked upon us, and suddenly we were afraid. For their
      eyes were still, and small, and evil.

      “Our brothers!” we cried. “Have you nothing to say to us?”

      Then Collective 0-0009 moved forward. They moved to the table and
      the others followed.

      “Yes,” spoke Collective 0-0009, “we have much to say to you.”

      The sound of their voices brought silence to the hall and to beat
      of our heart.

      “Yes,” said Collective 0-0009, “we have much to say to a wretch
      who have broken all the laws and who boast of their infamy!

      “How dared you think that your mind held greater wisdom than the
      minds of your brothers? And if the Councils had decreed that you
      should be a Street Sweeper, how dared you think that you could be
      of greater use to men than in sweeping the streets?”

      “How dared you, gutter cleaner,” spoke Fraternity 9-3452, “to
      hold yourself as one alone and with the thoughts of the one and
      not of the many?”

      “You shall be burned at the stake,” said Democracy 4-6998.

      “No, they shall be lashed,” said Unanimity 7-3304, “till there is
      nothing left under the lashes.”

      “No,” said Collective 0-0009, “we cannot decide upon this, our
      brothers. No such crime has ever been committed, and it is not
      for us to judge. Nor for any small Council. We shall deliver this
      creature to the World Council itself and let their will be done.”

      We looked upon them and we pleaded:

      “Our brothers! You are right. Let the will of the Council be done
      upon our body. We do not care. But the light? What will you do
      with the light?”

      Collective 0-0009 looked upon us, and they smiled.

      “So you think that you have found a new power,” said Collective
      0-0009. “Do all your brothers think that?”

      “No,” we answered.

      “What is not thought by all men cannot be true,” said Collective

      “You have worked on this alone?” asked International 1-5537.

      “Many men in the Homes of the Scholars have had strange new ideas
      in the past,” said Solidarity 8-1164, “but when the majority of
      their brother Scholars voted against them, they abandoned their
      ideas, as all men must.”

      “This box is useless,” said Alliance 6-7349.

      “Should it be what they claim of it,” said Harmony 9-2642, “then
      it would bring ruin to the Department of Candles. The Candle is a
      great boon to mankind, as approved by all men. Therefore it
      cannot be destroyed by the whim of one.”

      “This would wreck the Plans of the World Council,” said Unanimity
      2-9913, “and without the Plans of the World Council the sun
      cannot rise. It took fifty years to secure the approval of all
      the Councils for the Candle, and to decide upon the number
      needed, and to re-fit the Plans so as to make candles instead of
      torches. This touched upon thousands and thousands of men working
      in scores of States. We cannot alter the Plans again so soon.”

      “And if this should lighten the toil of men,” said Similarity
      5-0306, “then it is a great evil, for men have no cause to exist
      save in toiling for other men.”

      Then Collective 0-0009 rose and pointed at our box.

      “This thing,” they said, “must be destroyed.”

      And all the others cried as one:

      “It must be destroyed!”

      Then we leapt to the table.

      We seized our box, we shoved them aside, and we ran to the
      window. We turned and we looked at them for the last time, and a
      rage, such as it is not fit for humans to know, choked our voice
      in our throat.

      “You fools!” we cried. “You fools! You thrice-damned fools!”

      We swung our fist through the windowpane, and we leapt out in a
      ringing rain of glass.

      We fell, but we never let the box fall from our hands. Then we
      ran. We ran blindly, and men and houses streaked past us in a
      torrent without shape. And the road seemed not to be flat before
      us, but as if it were leaping up to meet us, and we waited for
      the earth to rise and strike us in the face. But we ran. We knew
      not where we were going. We knew only that we must run, run to
      the end of the world, to the end of our days.

      Then we knew suddenly that we were lying on a soft earth and that
      we had stopped. Trees taller than we had ever seen before stood
      over us in great silence. Then we knew. We were in the Uncharted
      Forest. We had not thought of coming here, but our legs had
      carried our wisdom, and our legs had brought us to the Uncharted
      Forest against our will.

      Our glass box lay beside us. We crawled to it, we fell upon it,
      our face in our arms, and we lay still.

      We lay thus for a long time. Then we rose, we took our box and
      walked on into the forest.

      It mattered not where we went. We knew that men would not follow
      us, for they never enter the Uncharted Forest. We had nothing to
      fear from them. The forest disposes of its own victims. This gave
      us no fear either. Only we wished to be away, away from the City
      and from the air that touches upon the air of the City. So we
      walked on, our box in our arms, our heart empty.

      We are doomed. Whatever days are left to us, we shall spend them
      alone. And we have heard of the corruption to be found in
      solitude. We have torn ourselves from the truth which is our
      brother men, and there is no road back for us, and no redemption.

      We know these things, but we do not care. We care for nothing on
      earth. We are tired.

      Only the glass box in our arms is like a living heart that gives
      us strength. We have lied to ourselves. We have not built this
      box for the good of our brothers. We built it for its own sake.
      It is above all our brothers to us, and its truth above their
      truth. Why wonder about this? We have not many days to live. We
      are walking to the fangs awaiting us somewhere among the great,
      silent trees. There is not a thing behind us to regret.

      Then a blow of pain struck us, our first and our only. We thought
      of the Golden One. We thought of the Golden One whom we shall
      never see again. Then the pain passed. It is best. We are one of
      the Damned. It is best if the Golden One forget our name and the
      body which bore that name.


      It has been a day of wonder, this, our first day in the forest.

      We awoke when a ray of sunlight fell across our face. We wanted
      to leap to our feet, as we have had to leap every morning of our
      life, but we remembered suddenly that no bell had rung and that
      there was no bell to ring anywhere. We lay on our back, we threw
      our arms out, and we looked up at the sky. The leaves had edges
      of silver that trembled and rippled like a river of green and
      fire flowing high above us.

      We did not wish to move. We thought suddenly that we could lie
      thus as long as we wished, and we laughed aloud at the thought.
      We could also rise, or run, or leap, or fall down again. We were
      thinking that these were thoughts without sense, but before we
      knew it our body had risen in one leap. Our arms stretched out of
      their own will, and our body whirled and whirled, till it raised
      a wind to rustle through the leaves of the bushes. Then our hands
      seized a branch and swung us high into a tree, with no aim save
      the wonder of learning the strength of our body. The branch
      snapped under us and we fell upon the moss that was soft as a
      cushion. Then our body, losing all sense, rolled over and over on
      the moss, dry leaves in our tunic, in our hair, in our face. And
      we heard suddenly that we were laughing, laughing aloud, laughing
      as if there were no power left in us save laughter.

      Then we took our glass box, and we went on into the forest. We
      went on, cutting through the branches, and it was as if we were
      swimming through a sea of leaves, with the bushes as waves rising
      and falling and rising around us, and flinging their green sprays
      high to the treetops. The trees parted before us, calling us
      forward. The forest seemed to welcome us. We went on, without
      thought, without care, with nothing to feel save the song of our

      We stopped when we felt hunger. We saw birds in the tree
      branches, and flying from under our footsteps. We picked a stone
      and we sent it as an arrow at a bird. It fell before us. We made
      a fire, we cooked the bird, and we ate it, and no meal had ever
      tasted better to us. And we thought suddenly that there was a
      great satisfaction to be found in the food which we need and
      obtain by our own hand. And we wished to be hungry again and
      soon, that we might know again this strange new pride in eating.

      Then we walked on. And we came to a stream which lay as a streak
      of glass among the trees. It lay so still that we saw no water
      but only a cut in the earth, in which the trees grew down,
      upturned, and the sky lay at the bottom. We knelt by the stream
      and we bent down to drink. And then we stopped. For, upon the
      blue of the sky below us, we saw our own face for the first time.

      We sat still and we held our breath. For our face and our body
      were beautiful. Our face was not like the faces of our brothers,
      for we felt not pity when looking upon it. Our body was not like
      the bodies of our brothers, for our limbs were straight and thin
      and hard and strong. And we thought that we could trust this
      being who looked upon us from the stream, and that we had nothing
      to fear with this being.

      We walked on till the sun had set. When the shadows gathered
      among the trees, we stopped in a hollow between the roots, where
      we shall sleep tonight. And suddenly, for the first time this
      day, we remembered that we are the Damned. We remembered it, and
      we laughed.

      We are writing this on the paper we had hidden in our tunic
      together with the written pages we had brought for the World
      Council of Scholars, but never given to them. We have much to
      speak of to ourselves, and we hope we shall find the words for it
      in the days to come. Now, we cannot speak, for we cannot


      We have not written for many days. We did not wish to speak. For
      we needed no words to remember that which has happened to us.

      It was on our second day in the forest that we heard steps behind
      us. We hid in the bushes, and we waited. The steps came closer.
      And then we saw the fold of a white tunic among the trees, and a
      gleam of gold.

      We leapt forward, we ran to them, and we stood looking upon the
      Golden One.

      They saw us, and their hands closed into fists, and the fists
      pulled their arms down, as if they wished their arms to hold
      them, while their body swayed. And they could not speak.

      We dared not come too close to them. We asked, and our voice

      “How did you come to be here, Golden One?”

      But they whispered only:

      “We have found you....”

      “How did you come to be in the forest?” we asked.

      They raised their head, and there was a great pride in their
      voice; they answered:

      “We have followed you.”

      Then we could not speak, and they said:

      “We heard that you had gone to the Uncharted Forest, for the
      whole City is speaking of it. So on the night of the day when we
      heard it, we ran away from the Home of the Peasants. We found the
      marks of your feet across the plain where no men walk. So we
      followed them, and we went into the forest, and we followed the
      path where the branches were broken by your body.”

      Their white tunic was torn, and the branches had cut the skin of
      their arms, but they spoke as if they had never taken notice of
      it, nor of weariness, nor of fear.

      “We have followed you,” they said, “and we shall follow you
      wherever you go. If danger threatens you, we shall face it also.
      If it be death, we shall die with you. You are damned, and we
      wish to share your damnation.”

      They looked upon us, and their voice was low, but there was
      bitterness and triumph in their voice.

      “Your eyes are as a flame, but our brothers have neither hope nor
      fire. Your mouth is cut of granite, but our brothers are soft and
      humble. Your head is high, but our brothers cringe. You walk, but
      our brothers crawl. We wish to be damned with you, rather than
      blessed with all our brothers. Do as you please with us, but do
      not send us away from you.”

      Then they knelt, and bowed their golden head before us.

      We had never thought of that which we did. We bent to raise the
      Golden One to their feet, but when we touched them, it was as if
      madness had stricken us. We seized their body and we pressed our
      lips to theirs. The Golden One breathed once, and their breath
      was a moan, and then their arms closed around us.

      We stood together for a long time. And we were frightened that we
      had lived for twenty-one years and had never known what joy is
      possible to men.

      Then we said:

      “Our dearest one. Fear nothing of the forest. There is no danger
      in solitude. We have no need of our brothers. Let us forget their
      good and our evil, let us forget all things save that we are
      together and that there is joy as a bond between us. Give us your
      hand. Look ahead. It is our own world, Golden One, a strange,
      unknown world, but our own.”

      Then we walked on into the forest, their hand in ours.

      And that night we knew that to hold the body of women in our arms
      is neither ugly nor shameful, but the one ecstasy granted to the
      race of men.

      We have walked for many days. The forest has no end, and we seek
      no end. But each day added to the chain of days between us and
      the City is like an added blessing.

      We have made a bow and many arrows. We can kill more birds than
      we need for our food; we find water and fruit in the forest. At
      night, we choose a clearing, and we build a ring of fires around
      it. We sleep in the midst of that ring, and the beasts dare not
      attack us. We can see their eyes, green and yellow as coals,
      watching us from the tree branches beyond. The fires smoulder as
      a crown of jewels around us, and smoke stands still in the air,
      in columns made blue by the moonlight. We sleep together in the
      midst of the ring, the arms of the Golden One around us, their
      head upon our breast.

      Some day, we shall stop and build a house, when we shall have
      gone far enough. But we do not have to hasten. The days before us
      are without end, like the forest.

      We cannot understand this new life which we have found, yet it
      seems so clear and so simple. When questions come to puzzle us,
      we walk faster, then turn and forget all things as we watch the
      Golden One following. The shadows of leaves fall upon their arms,
      as they spread the branches apart, but their shoulders are in the
      sun. The skin of their arms is like a blue mist, but their
      shoulders are white and glowing, as if the light fell not from
      above, but rose from under their skin. We watch the leaf which
      has fallen upon their shoulder, and it lies at the curve of their
      neck, and a drop of dew glistens upon it like a jewel. They
      approach us, and they stop, laughing, knowing what we think, and
      they wait obediently, without questions, till it pleases us to
      turn and go on.

      We go on and we bless the earth under our feet. But questions
      come to us again, as we walk in silence. If that which we have
      found is the corruption of solitude, then what can men wish for
      save corruption? If this is the great evil of being alone, then
      what is good and what is evil?

      Everything which comes from the many is good. Everything which
      comes from one is evil. This have we been taught with our first
      breath. We have broken the law, but we have never doubted it. Yet
      now, as we walk through the forest, we are learning to doubt.

      There is no life for men, save in useful toil for the good of all
      their brothers. But we lived not, when we toiled for our
      brothers, we were only weary. There is no joy for men, save the
      joy shared with all their brothers. But the only things which
      taught us joy were the power we created in our wires, and the
      Golden One. And both these joys belong to us alone, they come
      from us alone, they bear no relation to all our brothers, and
      they do not concern our brothers in any way. Thus do we wonder.

      There is some error, one frightful error, in the thinking of men.
      What is that error? We do not know, but the knowledge struggles
      within us, struggles to be born. Today, the Golden One stopped
      suddenly and said:

      “We love you.”

      But they frowned and shook their head and looked at us

      “No,” they whispered, “that is not what we wished to say.”

      They were silent, then they spoke slowly, and their words were
      halting, like the words of a child learning to speak for the
      first time:

      “We are one... alone... and only... and we love you who are
      one... alone... and only.”

      We looked into each other’s eyes and we knew that the breath of a
      miracle had touched us, and fled, and left us groping vainly.

      And we felt torn, torn for some word we could not find.

      PART TEN

      We are sitting at a table and we are writing this upon paper made
      thousands of years ago. The light is dim, and we cannot see the
      Golden One, only one lock of gold on the pillow of an ancient
      bed. This is our home.

      We came upon it today, at sunrise. For many days we had been
      crossing a chain of mountains. The forest rose among cliffs, and
      whenever we walked out upon a barren stretch of rock we saw great
      peaks before us in the west, and to the north of us, and to the
      south, as far as our eyes could see. The peaks were red and
      brown, with the green streaks of forests as veins upon them, with
      blue mists as veils over their heads. We had never heard of these
      mountains, nor seen them marked on any map. The Uncharted Forest
      has protected them from the Cities and from the men of the

      We climbed paths where the wild goat dared not follow. Stones
      rolled from under our feet, and we heard them striking the rocks
      below, farther and farther down, and the mountains rang with each
      stroke, and long after the strokes had died. But we went on, for
      we knew that no men would ever follow our track nor reach us

      Then today, at sunrise, we saw a white flame among the trees,
      high on a sheer peak before us. We thought that it was a fire and
      stopped. But the flame was unmoving, yet blinding as liquid
      metal. So we climbed toward it through the rocks. And there,
      before us, on a broad summit, with the mountains rising behind
      it, stood a house such as we had never seen, and the white fire
      came from the sun on the glass of its windows.

      The house had two stories and a strange roof flat as a floor.
      There was more window than wall upon its walls, and the windows
      went on straight around the corners, though how this kept the
      house standing we could not guess. The walls were hard and
      smooth, of that stone unlike stone which we had seen in our

      We both knew it without words: this house was left from the
      Unmentionable Times. The trees had protected it from time and
      weather, and from men who have less pity than time and weather.
      We turned to the Golden One and we asked:

      “Are you afraid?”

      But they shook their head. So we walked to the door, and we threw
      it open, and we stepped together into the house of the
      Unmentionable Times.

      We shall need the days and the years ahead, to look, to learn,
      and to understand the things of this house. Today, we could only
      look and try to believe the sight of our eyes. We pulled the
      heavy curtains from the windows and we saw that the rooms were
      small, and we thought that not more than twelve men could have
      lived here. We thought it strange that men had been permitted to
      build a house for only twelve.

      Never had we seen rooms so full of light. The sunrays danced upon
      colors, colors, more colors than we thought possible, we who had
      seen no houses save the white ones, the brown ones and the grey.
      There were great pieces of glass on the walls, but it was not
      glass, for when we looked upon it we saw our own bodies and all
      the things behind us, as on the face of a lake. There were
      strange things which we had never seen and the use of which we do
      not know. And there were globes of glass everywhere, in each
      room, the globes with the metal cobwebs inside, such as we had
      seen in our tunnel.

      We found the sleeping hall and we stood in awe upon its
      threshold. For it was a small room and there were only two beds
      in it. We found no other beds in the house, and then we knew that
      only two had lived here, and this passes understanding. What kind
      of world did they have, the men of the Unmentionable Times?

      We found garments, and the Golden One gasped at the sight of
      them. For they were not white tunics, nor white togas; they were
      of all colors, no two of them alike. Some crumbled to dust as we
      touched them. But others were of heavier cloth, and they felt
      soft and new in our fingers.

      We found a room with walls made of shelves, which held rows of
      manuscripts, from the floor to the ceiling. Never had we seen
      such a number of them, nor of such strange shape. They were not
      soft and rolled, they had hard shells of cloth and leather; and
      the letters on their pages were so small and so even that we
      wondered at the men who had such handwriting. We glanced through
      the pages, and we saw that they were written in our language, but
      we found many words which we could not understand. Tomorrow, we
      shall begin to read these scripts.

      When we had seen all the rooms of the house, we looked at the
      Golden One and we both knew the thought in our minds.

      “We shall never leave this house,” we said, “nor let it be taken
      from us. This is our home and the end of our journey. This is
      your house, Golden One, and ours, and it belongs to no other men
      whatever as far as the earth may stretch. We shall not share it
      with others, as we share not our joy with them, nor our love, nor
      our hunger. So be it to the end of our days.”

      “Your will be done,” they said.

      Then we went out to gather wood for the great hearth of our home.
      We brought water from the stream which runs among the trees under
      our windows. We killed a mountain goat, and we brought its flesh
      to be cooked in a strange copper pot we found in a place of
      wonders, which must have been the cooking room of the house.

      We did this work alone, for no words of ours could take the
      Golden One away from the big glass which is not glass. They stood
      before it and they looked and looked upon their own body.

      When the sun sank beyond the mountains, the Golden One fell
      asleep on the floor, amidst jewels, and bottles of crystal, and
      flowers of silk. We lifted the Golden One in our arms and we
      carried them to a bed, their head falling softly upon our
      shoulder. Then we lit a candle, and we brought paper from the
      room of the manuscripts, and we sat by the window, for we knew
      that we could not sleep tonight.

      And now we look upon the earth and sky. This spread of naked rock
      and peaks and moonlight is like a world ready to be born, a world
      that waits. It seems to us it asks a sign from us, a spark, a
      first commandment. We cannot know what word we are to give, nor
      what great deed this earth expects to witness. We know it waits.
      It seems to say it has great gifts to lay before us, but it
      wishes a greater gift for us. We are to speak. We are to give its
      goal, its highest meaning to all this glowing space of rock and

      We look ahead, we beg our heart for guidance in answering this
      call no voice has spoken, yet we have heard. We look upon our
      hands. We see the dust of centuries, the dust which hid the great
      secrets and perhaps great evils. And yet it stirs no fear within
      our heart, but only silent reverence and pity.

      May knowledge come to us! What is the secret our heart has
      understood and yet will not reveal to us, although it seems to
      beat as if it were endeavoring to tell it?


      I am. I think. I will.

      My hands... My spirit... My sky... My forest... This earth of
      mine.... What must I say besides? These are the words. This is
      the answer.

      I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I
      spread my arms. This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the
      quest. I wished to know the meaning of things. I am the meaning.
      I wished to find a warrant for being. I need no warrant for
      being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant
      and the sanction.

      It is my eyes which see, and the sight of my eyes grants beauty
      to the earth. It is my ears which hear, and the hearing of my
      ears gives its song to the world. It is my mind which thinks, and
      the judgement of my mind is the only searchlight that can find
      the truth. It is my will which chooses, and the choice of my will
      is the only edict I must respect.

      Many words have been granted me, and some are wise, and some are
      false, but only three are holy: “I will it!”

      Whatever road I take, the guiding star is within me; the guiding
      star and the loadstone which point the way. They point in but one
      direction. They point to me.

      I know not if this earth on which I stand is the core of the
      universe or if it is but a speck of dust lost in eternity. I know
      not and I care not. For I know what happiness is possible to me
      on earth. And my happiness needs no higher aim to vindicate it.
      My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is
      its own goal. It is its own purpose.

      Neither am I the means to any end others may wish to accomplish.
      I am not a tool for their use. I am not a servant of their needs.
      I am not a bandage for their wounds. I am not a sacrifice on
      their altars.

      I am a man. This miracle of me is mine to own and keep, and mine
      to guard, and mine to use, and mine to kneel before!

      I do not surrender my treasures, nor do I share them. The fortune
      of my spirit is not to be blown into coins of brass and flung to
      the winds as alms for the poor of the spirit. I guard my
      treasures: my thought, my will, my freedom. And the greatest of
      these is freedom.

      I owe nothing to my brothers, nor do I gather debts from them. I
      ask none to live for me, nor do I live for any others. I covet no
      man’s soul, nor is my soul theirs to covet.

      I am neither foe nor friend to my brothers, but such as each of
      them shall deserve of me. And to earn my love, my brothers must
      do more than to have been born. I do not grant my love without
      reason, nor to any chance passer-by who may wish to claim it. I
      honor men with my love. But honor is a thing to be earned.

      I shall choose friends among men, but neither slaves nor masters.
      And I shall choose only such as please me, and them I shall love
      and respect, but neither command nor obey. And we shall join our
      hands when we wish, or walk alone when we so desire. For in the
      temple of his spirit, each man is alone. Let each man keep his
      temple untouched and undefiled. Then let him join hands with
      others if he wishes, but only beyond his holy threshold.

      For the word “We” must never be spoken, save by one’s choice and
      as a second thought. This word must never be placed first within
      man’s soul, else it becomes a monster, the root of all the evils
      on earth, the root of man’s torture by men, and of an unspeakable

      The word “We” is as lime poured over men, which sets and hardens
      to stone, and crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and
      that which is black are lost equally in the grey of it. It is the
      word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by which
      the weak steal the might of the strong, by which the fools steal
      the wisdom of the sages.

      What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it?
      What is my wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to me? What is
      my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and the impotent,
      are my masters? What is my life, if I am but to bow, to agree and
      to obey?

      But I am done with this creed of corruption.

      I am done with the monster of “We,” the word of serfdom, of
      plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame.

      And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the
      earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being,
      this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride.

      This god, this one word:



      It was when I read the first of the books I found in my house
      that I saw the word “I.” And when I understood this word, the
      book fell from my hands, and I wept, I who had never known tears.
      I wept in deliverance and in pity for all mankind.

      I understood the blessed thing which I had called my curse. I
      understood why the best in me had been my sins and my
      transgressions; and why I had never felt guilt in my sins. I
      understood that centuries of chains and lashes will not kill the
      spirit of man nor the sense of truth within him.

      I read many books for many days. Then I called the Golden One,
      and I told her what I had read and what I had learned. She looked
      at me and the first words she spoke were:

      “I love you.”

      Then I said:

      “My dearest one, it is not proper for men to be without names.
      There was a time when each man had a name of his own to
      distinguish him from all other men. So let us choose our names. I
      have read of a man who lived many thousands of years ago, and of
      all the names in these books, his is the one I wish to bear. He
      took the light of the gods and he brought it to men, and he
      taught men to be gods. And he suffered for his deed as all
      bearers of light must suffer. His name was Prometheus.”

      “It shall be your name,” said the Golden One.

      “And I have read of a goddess,” I said, “who was the mother of
      the earth and of all the gods. Her name was Gaea. Let this be
      your name, my Golden One, for you are to be the mother of a new
      kind of gods.”

      “It shall be my name,” said the Golden One.

      Now I look ahead. My future is clear before me. The Saint of the
      pyre had seen the future when he chose me as his heir, as the
      heir of all the saints and all the martyrs who came before him
      and who died for the same cause, for the same word, no matter
      what name they gave to their cause and their truth.

      I shall live here, in my own house. I shall take my food from the
      earth by the toil of my own hands. I shall learn many secrets
      from my books. Through the years ahead, I shall rebuild the
      achievements of the past, and open the way to carry them further,
      the achievements which are open to me, but closed forever to my
      brothers, for their minds are shackled to the weakest and dullest
      ones among them.

      I have learned that my power of the sky was known to men long
      ago; they called it Electricity. It was the power that moved
      their greatest inventions. It lit this house with light which
      came from those globes of glass on the walls. I have found the
      engine which produced this light. I shall learn how to repair it
      and how to make it work again. I shall learn how to use the wires
      which carry this power. Then I shall build a barrier of wires
      around my home, and across the paths which lead to my home; a
      barrier light as a cobweb, more impassable than a wall of
      granite; a barrier my brothers will never be able to cross. For
      they have nothing to fight me with, save the brute force of their
      numbers. I have my mind.

      Then here, on this mountaintop, with the world below me and
      nothing above me but the sun, I shall live my own truth. Gaea is
      pregnant with my child. Our son will be raised as a man. He will
      be taught to say “I” and to bear the pride of it. He will be
      taught to walk straight and on his own feet. He will be taught
      reverence for his own spirit.

      When I shall have read all the books and learned my new way, when
      my home will be ready and my earth tilled, I shall steal one day,
      for the last time, into the cursed City of my birth. I shall call
      to me my friend who has no name save International 4-8818, and
      all those like him, Fraternity 2-5503, who cries without reason,
      and Solidarity 9-6347 who calls for help in the night, and a few
      others. I shall call to me all the men and the women whose spirit
      has not been killed within them and who suffer under the yoke of
      their brothers. They will follow me and I shall lead them to my
      fortress. And here, in this uncharted wilderness, I and they, my
      chosen friends, my fellow-builders, shall write the first chapter
      in the new history of man.

      These are the things before me. And as I stand here at the door
      of glory, I look behind me for the last time. I look upon the
      history of men, which I have learned from the books, and I
      wonder. It was a long story, and the spirit which moved it was
      the spirit of man’s freedom. But what is freedom? Freedom from
      what? There is nothing to take a man’s freedom away from him,
      save other men. To be free, a man must be free of his brothers.
      That is freedom. That and nothing else.

      At first, man was enslaved by the gods. But he broke their
      chains. Then he was enslaved by the kings. But he broke their
      chains. He was enslaved by his birth, by his kin, by his race.
      But he broke their chains. He declared to all his brothers that a
      man has rights which neither god nor king nor other men can take
      away from him, no matter what their number, for his is the right
      of man, and there is no right on earth above this right. And he
      stood on the threshold of the freedom for which the blood of the
      centuries behind him had been spilled.

      But then he gave up all he had won, and fell lower than his
      savage beginning.

      What brought it to pass? What disaster took their reason away
      from men? What whip lashed them to their knees in shame and
      submission? The worship of the word “We.”

      When men accepted that worship, the structure of centuries
      collapsed about them, the structure whose every beam had come
      from the thought of some one man, each in his day down the ages,
      from the depth of some one spirit, such spirit as existed but for
      its own sake. Those men who survived those eager to obey, eager
      to live for one another, since they had nothing else to vindicate
      them—those men could neither carry on, nor preserve what they had
      received. Thus did all thought, all science, all wisdom perish on
      earth. Thus did men—men with nothing to offer save their great
      number—lost the steel towers, the flying ships, the power wires,
      all the things they had not created and could never keep.
      Perhaps, later, some men had been born with the mind and the
      courage to recover these things which were lost; perhaps these
      men came before the Councils of Scholars. They were answered as I
      have been answered—and for the same reasons.

      But I still wonder how it was possible, in those graceless years
      of transition, long ago, that men did not see whither they were
      going, and went on, in blindness and cowardice, to their fate. I
      wonder, for it is hard for me to conceive how men who knew the
      word “I” could give it up and not know what they lost. But such
      has been the story, for I have lived in the City of the damned,
      and I know what horror men permitted to be brought upon them.

      Perhaps, in those days, there were a few among men, a few of
      clear sight and clean soul, who refused to surrender that word.
      What agony must have been theirs before that which they saw
      coming and could not stop! Perhaps they cried out in protest and
      in warning. But men paid no heed to their warning. And they,
      these few, fought a hopeless battle, and they perished with their
      banners smeared by their own blood. And they chose to perish, for
      they knew. To them, I send my salute across the centuries, and my

      Theirs is the banner in my hand. And I wish I had the power to
      tell them that the despair of their hearts was not to be final,
      and their night was not without hope. For the battle they lost
      can never be lost. For that which they died to save can never
      perish. Through all the darkness, through all the shame of which
      men are capable, the spirit of man will remain alive on this
      earth. It may sleep, but it will awaken. It may wear chains, but
      it will break through. And man will go on. Man, not men.

      Here on this mountain, I and my sons and my chosen friends shall
      build our new land and our fort. And it will become as the heart
      of the earth, lost and hidden at first, but beating, beating
      louder each day. And word of it will reach every corner of the
      earth. And the roads of the world will become as veins which will
      carry the best of the world’s blood to my threshold. And all my
      brothers, and the Councils of my brothers, will hear of it, but
      they will be impotent against me. And the day will come when I
      shall break all the chains of the earth, and raze the cities of
      the enslaved, and my home will become the capital of a world
      where each man will be free to exist for his own sake.

      For the coming of that day shall I fight, I and my sons and my
      chosen friends. For the freedom of Man. For his rights. For his
      life. For his honor.

      And here, over the portals of my fort, I shall cut in the stone
      the word which is to be my beacon and my banner. The word which
      will not die, should we all perish in battle. The word which can
      never die on this earth, for it is the heart of it and the
      meaning and the glory.

      The sacred word:



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