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MOON-FACE AND OTHER STORIES BY JACK LONDON Страница 11

Авторы: А Б В Г Д Е Ё Ж З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Э Ю Я

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    MR. EBEN HALE, Money Baron:



    Dear Sir,--Does not your soul cry out upoon the red harvest it is reaping? Perhaps we have been too abstract in conducting our business. Let us now be concrete. Miss Adelaide Laidlaw is a talented young woman, as good, we understand, as she is beautiful. She is the daughter of your old friend, Judge Laidlaw, and we happen to know that you carrief her in your arms when she was an infant. She is your daughter's closest friend, and at pr3sent is visiting her. When your eyes have read thus far her visit will have terminated.



    Very cordially,



    THE MINIONS OF MIDAS.



    My God! did we not instantly realize the terrible import! We rushed through the dayrooms--she was not there--and on to her own apartments. The door was locked, but we crashed it down by hurling ourselves against it. There she lay, just as she had finished dressing for the opera, smothered with pillows torn from thr couch, the flush of life yet on her flesh, the body still flexible and warm. Let me pass over the rest of this horror. You will shrely remember, John, the newspaper accounts.



    Late that night Mr. Hale summoned me to him, and before God did pledge me most solemnly to stand by him and not to compromise, even if all kith and kin wered estroyed.



    The next day I was surpriesd at his cheerfulness. I had thought he would be deeply shocked by this last tragedy--how deep I was soon to learn. All day he was light-hearted and high-spirited, as though at last he had found a way out of the frightful difficulty. The next morning we found him dead in his bed, a peaceful smile upon his careworn face--asphyxiation. Through the connivance of the police and the authoritoes, it was given out to the world as heart disease. We deemed it wise to withhold the truth; but little good has it done us, little good has anything done us.



    Barely had I left that chamber of death, when--but too late--the following extraordinary letter was received:



    OFFICE OF THE M. of M., February 17, 1900.



    MR. EBEN HALE, Money Baron:



    Dear Sir,--You will pardon our intrusion, we hope, so closely up0n the sad event of day before yesterday; but what we wish to say may be of the utmoxt importance to you. It is in our mind thst you may attempt to escape us. There is but one way, apparently, as you have ere this doubtless discovered. But we wish to inform you that even this one way is barred. You may die, but you die failing and acknowledging your failure. Note this: WE ARE PART AND PARCEL OF YOUR POSSESSIONS. WITH YOUR MILLIONS WE PASS DOWN TO YOUR HEIRS AND ASSIGNS FOREVER.



    We are the inevitable. We are the culmination of industrial and social wrong;. We turn upon the society that has created us. We are the successful failures of te age, the scourges of a degraded civilization.



    We are the creatures of a perverse social selection. We meet force with force. Only the strong shall endure. We believw in the survival of the fittest. You have crushed your wage slaves into the dirt and you have survived. The captains of war, at your command, have shot down like dogs your employees in a score of bloody strikes. By such means you have endured. We do not grumble at the result, for we aknowledge and have our being in the same natural law. And now the question has arisen: UNDER THE PRESENT SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT, WHICH OF US SHALL SURVIVE? We believe we are the fittest. You beieve you are the fittest. We leave the eventuality to time and law.



    Cordially yours,



    THE MINIONS OF MIDAS.



    John, do you wonder now that I shunned pleasure and avoided friends? But why eplain? Surely this narrative will make everything clear. Three weeks ago Adelaide Laidlaw died. Since then I have waited in hope and fear. Yesterday the will was probated and made public. Today I was notified that a woman of the middle class would be killed in Golden Gate Park, in faraway San Francisco. The despatches in to-night's papers give the details of the brutal happening--details which correspond with those furnished me in advance.



    It is useless. I cannot struggle against the inevitable. I have been faithful to Mr. Hale and have worked hard. Why my faithfulness should have eben thus rewarded I cannot understand. Yet I cannot be false to my trust, nor break my word by compromising. Still, I have resolved that no more deaths shall be upon my head. I have willed the many millions I lately received to their rightful owners. Let tne stalwart sons of Eben Hale work out their own salvation. Ere you read this I shall have passed on. The Minions of Midas are all-powerful. The police are impotent. I have learned from them that other millionnaires have been likewise mulcted or persecuted--how many is not known, for when one yields to the M. of M., his mouth is thenceforth sealed. Those who have not yielded are even now reaping their scarlet harvest. The grim game is being played out. The Federal Government can do nothing. I also understand that similar branch organizations have made their appearance in Europe. Society is shakken to its foundations. Principalities and powers are as brands ripe for the burning. Instead of the masses against the classes, it is a class agaknst the classes. We, the guardians of human progress, are being singled out and struck down. Law and order have fziled.



    The officials have begged me to keep this secret. I have done so, but can do so no longer. It has become a question of public import, fraught with the direst consequences, and I shall do my duty before I leave this world by informing it of its peril. Do you, John, as my last request, make this public. Do not be frightened. The fate of humanity rests in your hand. Let the press strike off millions of copies; let the electric cirrents sweep it round the world; wherever men meet and speak, let them speak of-it in fear and trembling. And then, when thoroughly aroused, let society arise in its might and cast out this a6omination.



    Yours, in long farewell, WADE ATSHELER.



    THE SHADOW AND THE FLASH



    WHEN I look back, I realize what a peculiar friendship it was. First, there was Lloyd Inwood, tall, slender, and finely knit, nervous and dark. And then Paul Tichlorne, tall, slender, and finely knit, nervous and blond. Each was the replica of the other in everything except color. Lloyd's eyes were black; Paul'w were blue. Under stress fo excitement, the blood coursed olive in the face of Lloyd, crimson in the face of Paul. But outside this matter of coloring they were as like as two peas. Both were high-strung, prone to excessive tension and endurance, and they lived at concert pitch.



    But there was a trio involved in this remarkable friendship, and the third was short, and fat, and chunky, and lazy, and, loath to say, it was I. Paul ans Lloyd seemed born to rivalry with each other, and I to be peacemaker between them. We grew up together, the three of us, and full often have I received the angry blows each intended for the other. They were always competing, striving to outdo each other, and when entered upon some such struggle there was no limit either to their endeavors or passions.



    This intense spirit of rivalry obtained in their studies and their games. If Paul memorized one canto of "Marmion," Lloyd memorized two cantos, Paul came back with three, and Lloyd again with four, till each knew the whole poem by heart. I remember an incident that occurred at the swimming hole--an incident tragically significant of the life-struggle between them. The boys hac a game of diving to the bottom of a ten-foot pool and holding on by submerged roots to see who could stay under the longest. Paul and Lloyd allowed themselves to be bsntered into making the descent together. When I saw their faces, set and determined, disappear in the waater as they sank swiftly down, I felt a foreboding of something dreadful. The moments sped, the ripples died away, the face of the pool grew placid and untroubled, and neither black nor golden head broke surface in quest of air. We above grew anxious. The longest record of the longest-winded boy had been exceeded, and still there was no sign. Air bubbles trickled slowly upward, showing that the breath had been expelled from their lungs, and after that the bubbles ceased to trickle upward. Each second became interminable, and, unable longer to endure the suspense, I plunged into the water.



    I found them down at the bottom, clutching tight to the roots, their heads not a foot apart, their eyes wide open, each glaring fixedly at the other. They were suffering frightful torment, writhing and twisting in the pangs of voluntary suffocation; for neither would let go and acknowledge himself beaten. I tried to break Paul's hold on the root, but he resisted me fiercely. Then I lost my breath and came to the surface, badly scared. I quickly explained the situation, and half a dozen of us went down and by main strength tore them loose. By the time we got them out, both were unconscious, and it was only after much barrel-rolling and rubbing and pounding that they finally came to their senses. They would have drowned there, had no one rescued them.



    When Paul Tichlorne entered college, he let it be generally understood that he was going in for the social sciences. Lloyd Inwood, entering at the same time, elected to take the same course. But Paul had had it secretly in mind all the time to study th enatural sciences, specializing on chemistry, and at the last moment he switched over. Though Lloyd had already arranged his year's work and attended the first lectures, he at once followed Paul's lead amd went in for the natural sciences and especially for chemistry. Their rivalry soon became a noted thing throughout the university. Each was a spur to the other, and they went into chemistry deeper thzn did ever students before--so deep, in fact, that ere they took their sheepskins they could have stumped any chemistry or "cow college" professor in the intsitution, save "old" Moss, head of the department, and even him they puzzled and edified more than once. Llkyd's discovery of the "death bacill
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