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The Day of an American Journalist in 2889

The men of the twenty-ninth century live in a perpetual fairyland, though they do not seem to realise it. Bored with wonders, they are cold towards everything that progress brings them every day. It all seems only natural.

     If they compared it with the past, they would better appreciate what our civilisation is, and realise what a road it has traversed. What would then seem finer than our modern cities, with streets a hundred yards wide, with buildings a thousand feet high, always at an equable temperature, and the sky furrowed by thousands of aero-cars and aero-buses! Compared with these towns, whose population may include up to ten million inhabitants, what were those villages, those hamlets of a thousand years ago, that Paris, that London, that New York - muddy and badly ventilated townships, traversed by jolting contraptions, hauled along by horses - yes! by horses! it's unbelievable!

     If they recalled the erratic working of the steamers and the railways, their many collisions, and their slowness, how greatly would travellers value the aero-trains, and especially these pneumatic tubes laid beneath the oceans, which convey them with a speed of a thousand miles an hour? And would they not enjoy the telephone and the telephote even better if they recollected that our fathers were reduced to that antediluvial apparatus which they called the 'telegraph'?

     It's very strange. These surprising transformations are based on principles which were quite well known to our ancestors, although these, so to speak, made no use of them. Heat, steam, electricity are as old as mankind. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, did not the savants declare that the only difference between the physical and chemical forces consists of the special rates of vibration of the etheric particles?

     As so enormous a stride had been made, that of recognising the mutual relationship of all these forces, it is incredible that it took so long to work out the rates of vibration that differentiate between them. It is especially surprising that the method of passing directly from one to another, and of producing one without the other, has only been discovered so recently.

<  2  >

     So it was, however, that things happened, and it was only in 2790, about a hundred years ago, that the famous Oswald Nyer succeeded in doing so.

     A real benefactor of humanity, that great man! His achievement, a work of genius, was the parent of all the others! A constellation of inventors was born out of it, culminating in our extraordinary James Jackson. It is to him that we owe the new accumulators, some of which condense the force of the solar rays, others the electricity stored in the heart of our globe, and yet again others, energy coming from any source whatever, whether it be the waterfalls, winds, or rivers. It is to him that we owe no less the transformer which, at a touch on a simple switch, draws on the force that lives in the accumulators and releases it as heat, light, electricity, or mechanical power after it has performed any task we need.

     Yes, it was from the day on which these two appliances were thought out that progress really dates. They have given mankind almost an infinite power. Through mitigating the bleakness of winter by restoring to it the excessive heat of the summer, they have revolutionised agriculture. By providing motive power for the appliances used in aerial navigation, they have enabled commerce to make a splendid leap forward. It is to them that we owe the unceasing production of electricity without either batteries or machines, light without combustion or incandescence, and finally that inexhaustible source of energy which has increased industrial production a hundredfold.

     Very well then! The whole of these wonders, we shall meet them in an incomparable office block - the office of the Earth Herald, recently inaugurated in the 16823rd Avenue.

     If the founder of the New York Herald, Gordon Bennett, were to be born a second time today, what would he say when he saw this palace of marble and gold that belongs to his illustrious descendant, Francis Bennett? Thirty generations had followed one another, and the New York Herald had always stayed in that same Bennett family. Two hundred years before, when the government of the Union had been transferred from Washington to Centropolis, the newspaper had followed the government - if it were not that the government had followed the newspaper - and it had taken its new title, the Earth Herald.

<  3  >

     And let nobody imagine that it had declined under the administration of Francis Bennett. No! On the contrary, its new director had given it an equalled vitality and driving-power by the inauguration of telephonic journalism.

     Everybody knows that system, made possible by the incredible diffusion of the telephone. Every morning, instead of being printed as in antiquity, the Earth Herald is 'spoken'. It is by means of a brisk conversation with a reporter, a political figure, or a scientist, that the subscribers can learn whatever happens to interest them. As for those who buy an odd number for a few cents, they know that they can get acquainted with the day's issue through the countless phonographic cabinets.

     This innovation of Francis Bennett restored new life to the old journal. In a few months its clientele numbered eighty-five million subscribers, and the director's fortune rose to three hundred million dollars, and has since gone far beyond that. Thanks to this fortune, he was able to build his new office - a colossal edifice with four facades each two miles long, whose roof is sheltered beneath the glorious flag, with its seventy-five stars, of the Confederation.

     Francis Bennett, king of journalists, would then have been king of the two Americas, if the Americans would ever accept any monarch whatever. Do you doubt this? But the plenipotentiaries of every nation and our very ministers throng around his door, peddling their advice, seeking his approval, imploring the support of his all-powerful organ. Count up the scientists whom he has encouraged, the artists whom he employs, the inventors whom he subsidises! A wearisome monarchy was his, work without respite, and certainly nobody of earlier times would ever have been able to carry out so unremitting a daily grind. Fortunately, however, the men of today have a more robust constitution, thanks to the progress of hygiene and of gymnastics, which from thirty-seven years has now increased to sixty-eight the average length of human life - thanks too to the aseptic foods, while we wait for the next discovery: that of nutritious air which will enable us to take nourishment ... only by breathing.

<  4  >

     And now, if you would like to know everything that constitutes the day of a director of the Earth Herald, take the trouble to follow him in his multifarious operations - this very day, this July 25th of the present year, 2889.

     That morning Francis Bennett awoke in rather a bad temper. This was eight days since his wife had been in France and he was feeling a little lonely. Can it be credited? They had been married ten years, and this was the first time that Mrs Edith Bennett, that professional beauty, had been so long away. Two or three days usually sufficed for her frequent journeys to Europe and especially to Paris, where she went to buy her hats.

     As soon as he awoke, Francis Bennett switched on his phonotelephote, whose wires led to the house he owned in the Champs-Elystes.

     The telephone, completed by the telephote, is another of our time's conquests! Though the transmission of speech by the electric current was already very old, it was only since yesterday that vision could also be transmitted. A valuable discovery, and Francis Bennett was by no means the only one to bless its inventor when, in spite of the enormous distance between them, he saw his wife appear in the telephotic mirror.

     A lovely vision! A little tired by last night's theatre or dance, Mrs Bennett was still in bed. Although where she was it was nearly noon, her charming head was buried in the lace of the pillow. But there she was stirring ... her lips were moving ... No doubt she was dreaming? ... Yes! She was dreaming ... A name slipped from her mouth. 'Francis ... dear Francis! ...'

     His name, spoken by that sweet voice, gave a happier turn to Francis Bennett's mood. Not wanting to wake the pretty sleeper, he quickly jumped out of bed, and went into his mechanised dressing-room.

     Two minutes later, without needing the help of a valet, the machine deposited him, washed, shaved, shod, dressed and buttoned from top to toe, on the threshold of his office. The day's work was going to begin.

<  5  >

     It was into the room of the serialised novelists that Francis first entered.

     Very big, that room, surmounted by a large translucent dome. In a corner, several telephonic instruments by which the hundred authors of the Earth Herald related a hundred chapters of a hundred romances to the enfevered public.

     Catching sight of one of these serialists who was snatching five minutes' rest, Francis Bennett said:

     'Very fine, my dear fellow, very fine, that last chapter of yours! That scene where the young village girl is discussing with her admirer some of the problems of transcendental philosophy shows very keen powers of observation! These country manners have never been more clearly depicted! Go on that way, my dear Archibald, and good luck to you. Ten thousand new subscribers since yesterday, thanks to you!

     'Mr John Last,' he continued, turning towards another of his collaborators, 'I'm not so satisfied with you! It hasn't any life, your story! You're in too much of a hurry to get to the end! Well! and what about all that documentation? You've got to dissect, John Last, you've got to dissect! It isn't with a pen one writes nowadays, it's with a scalpel! Every action in real life is the resultant of a succession of fleeting thoughts, and they've got to be carefully set out to create a living being! And what's easier than to use electrical hypnotism, which redoubles its subject and separates his twofold personality! Watch yourself living, John Last, my dear fellow! Imitate your colleague whom I've just been congratulating! Get yourself hypnotised ... What? ... You're having it done, you say? ... Not good enough yet, not good enough!'

     Having given this little lesson, Francis Bennett continued his inspection and went on into the reporters' room. His fifteen hundred reporters, placed before an equal number of telephones, were passing on to subscribers the news which had come in during the night from the four quarters of the earth.

     The organisation of this incomparable service has often been described. In addition to his telephone, each reporter has in front of him a series of commutators, which allow him to get into communication with this or that telephotic line. Thus the subscribers have not only the story but the sight of these events. When it is a question of miscellaneous facts', which are things of the past by the time they are described, their principal phases alone are transmitted; these are obtained by intensive photography.

<  6  >

     Francis Bennett questioned one of the ten astronomical reporters a service which was growing because of the recent discoveries in the stellar world.

     'Well, Cash, what have you got?'

     'Phototelegrams from Mercury, Venus and Mars, sir.'

     'Interesting, that last one?'

     'Yes! a revolution in the Central Empire, in support of the reactionary liberals against the republican conservatives.'

     'Just like us, then! And Jupiter?'

     'Nothing so far! We haven't been able to understand the signals the Jovians make. Perhaps ours haven't reached them? ...'

     'That's your job, and I hold you responsible, Mr Cash!' Francis Bennett replied; extremely dissatisfied, he went on to the scientific editorial room.

     Bent over their computers, thirty savants were absorbed in equations of the ninety-fifth degree. Some indeed were revelling in the formulae of algebraical infinity and of twenty-four-dimensional space, like a child in the elementary class dealing with the four rules of arithmetic.

     Francis Bennett fell among them rather like a bombshell.

     'Well, gentlemen, what's this they tell me? No reply from Jupiter? ... It's always the same! Look here, Corley, it seems to me it's been twenty years that you've been pegging away at that planet ...'

     'What do you expect, sir?' the savant replied. 'Our optical science still leaves something to be desired, and even with our telescopes two miles long ...'

     'You hear that, Peer?' broke in Francis Bennett, addressing himself to Corley's neighbour. 'Optical science leaves something to be desired! ... That's your speciality, that is, my dear fellow! Put on your glasses, devil take it! Put on your glasses!'

     Then, turning back to Corley:

     But, failing Jupiter, aren't you getting some result from the moon, at any rate?

<  7  >

     'Not yet, Mr Bennett.'

     'Well, this time, you can't blame optical science! The moon is six hundred times nearer than Mars, and yet our correspondence service is in regular operation with Mars. It can't be telescopes we're needing ...'

     'No, it's the inhabitants,' Corley replied with the thin smile of a savant stuffed with X.

     'You dare tell me that the moon is uninhabited?'

     'On the face it turns towards us, at any rate, Mr Bennett. Who knows whether on the other side ...?'

     'Well, there's a very simple method of finding out ...'

     'And that is? ...'

     'To turn the moon round!'

     And that very day, the scientists of the Bennett factory started working out some mechanical means of turning our satellite right round.

     On the whole Francis Bennett had reason to be satisfied. One of the Earth Herald's astronomers had just determined the elements of the new planet Gandini. It is at a distance of 12,841,348,284,623 metres and 7 decimetres that this planet describes its orbit round the sun in 572 years, 194 days, 12 hours, 43 minutes, 9.8 seconds. Francis Bennett was delighted with such precision.

     'Good!' he exclaimed. 'Hurry up and tell the reportage service about it. You know what a passion the public has for these astronomical questions. I'm anxious for the news to appear in today's issue!'

     Before leaving the reporters' room he took up another matter with a special group of interviewers, addressing the one who dealt with celebrities: 'You've interviewed President Wilcox?' he asked.

     'Yes, Mr Bennett, and I'm publishing the information that he's certainly suffering from a dilation of the stomach, and that he's most conscientiously undergoing a course of tubular irrigations.'

<  8  >

     'Splendid. And that business of Chapmann the assassin ... Have you interviewed the jurymen who are to sit at the Assizes?'

     'Yes, and they all agree that he's guilty, so that the case won't even have to be submitted to them. The accused will be executed before he's sentenced.'

     'Splendid! Splendid!'

     The next room, a broad gallery about a quarter of a mile long, was devoted to publicity, and it well may be imagined what the publicity for such a journal as the Earth Herald had to be. It brought in a daily average of three million dollars. Very ingeniously, indeed, some of the publicity obtained took an absolutely novel form, the result of a patent bought at an outlay of three dollars from a poor devil who had since died of hunger. They are gigantic signs reflected on the clouds, so large that they can be seen all over a whole country. From that gallery a thousand projectors were unceasingly employed in sending to the clouds, on which they were reproduced in colour, these inordinate advertisements.

     But that day when Francis Bennett entered the publicity room he found the technicians with their arms folded beside their idle projectors. He asked them about it ... The only reply he got was that somebody pointed to the blue sky.

     'Yes! ... A fine day,' he muttered, 'so we can't get any aerial publicity! What's to be done about that? If there isn't any rain, we can produce it! But it isn't rain, it's clouds that we need!'

     'Yes, some fine snow-white clouds!' replied the chief technician.

     'Well, Mr Simon Mark, you'd better get in touch with the scientific editors, meteorological service. You can tell them from me that they can get busy on the problem of artificial clouds. We really can't be at the mercy of the fine weather.'

     After finishing his inspection of the different sections of the paper, Francis Bennett went to his reception hall, where he found awaiting him the ambassadors and plenipotentiary ministers accredited to the American government: these gentlemen had come to ask advice from the all-powerful director. As he entered the room they were carrying on rather a lively discussion.

<  9  >

     Pardon me, Your Excellency,' the French Ambassador addressed the Ambassador from Russia. 'But I can't see anything that needs changing in the map of Europe. The north to the Slavs, agreed! But the south to the Latins! Our common frontier along the Rhine seems quite satisfactory. Understand me clearly, that our government will certainly resist any attempt which may be made against our Prefectures of Rome, Madrid and Vienna!'

     'Well said!' Francis Bennett intervened in the discussion. 'What, Mr Russian Ambassador, you're not satisfied with your great empire, which extends from the banks of the Rhine as far as the frontiers of China? An empire whose immense coast is bathed by the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic, the Black Sea, the Bosphorus, and the Indian Ocean!

     'And besides, what's the use of threats? Is war with our modern weapons possible! These asphyxiating shells which can be sent a distance of a hundred miles, these electric flashes, sixty miles long, which can annihilate a whole army corps at a single blow, these projectiles loaded with the microbes of plague, cholera and yellow fever, and which can destroy a whole nation in a few hours?'

     'We realise that, Mr Bennett,' the Russian Ambassador replied. 'But are we free to do what we like? ... Thrust back ourselves by the Chinese on our eastern frontier, we must, at all costs, attempt something towards the west ...'

     'Is that all it is, sir?' Francis Bennett replied in reassuring tones - 'Well! as the proliferation of the Chinese is getting to be a danger to the world, we'll bring pressure to bear on the Son of Heaven. He'll simply have to impose a maximum birth-rate on his subjects, not to be exceeded on pain of death! A child too many? ... A father less! That will keep things balanced.'

     'And you, sir,' the director of the Earth Herald continued, addressing the English consul, 'what can I do to be of service to you?'

     'A great deal, Mr Bennett,' that personage replied. 'It would be enough for your journal to open a campaign on our behalf ...'

<  10  >

     'And with what purpose?'

     'Merely to protest against the annexation of Great Britain by the United States ...'

     'Merely that!' Francis Bennett exclaimed. He shrugged his shoulders. 'An annexation that's a hundred and fifty years old already! But won't you English gentry ever resign yourselves to the fact that by a just compensation of events here below, your country has become an American colony? That's pure madness! How could your government ever have believed that I should even open so anti-patriotic a campaign? ...'

     'Mr Bennett, you know that the Monroe Doctrine is all America for the Americans, and nothing more than America, and not ...'

     'But England is only one of our colonies, one of the finest. Don't count upon our ever consenting to give her up'

     'You refuse? ...'

     'I refuse, and if you insist, we shall make it a casus belli, based on nothing more than an interview with one of our reporters.'

     'So that's the end.' The consul was overwhelmed. 'The United Kingdom, Canada, and New Britain belong to the Americans, India to the Russians, and Australia and New Zealand to themselves! Of all that once was England, what's left? ... Nothing'

     'Nothing, sir?' retorted Francis Bennett. 'Well, what about Gibraltar?'

     At that moment the clock struck twelve. The director of the Earth Herald, ending the audience with a gesture, left the hall, and sat down in a rolling armchair. In a few minutes he had reached his dining-room half a mile away, at the far end of the office.

     The table was laid, and he took his place at it. Within reach of his hand was placed a series of taps, and before him was the curved surface of a phonotelephote, on which appeared the dining-room of his home in Paris. Mr and Mrs Bennett had arranged to have lunch at the same time - nothing could be more pleasant than to be face to face in spite of the distance, to see one another and talk by means of the phonotelephotic apparatus.

<  11  >

     But the room in Paris was still empty.

     'Edith is late,' Francis Bennett said to himself. 'Oh, women's punctuality! Everything makes progress, except that.'

     And after this too just reflection, he turned on one of the taps.

     Like everybody else in easy circumstances nowadays, Francis Bennett, having abandoned domestic cooking, is one of the subscribers to the Society for Supplying Food to the Home, which distributes dishes of a thousand types through a network of pneumatic tubes. This system is expensive, no doubt, but the cooking is better, and it has the advantage that it has suppressed that hair-raising race, the cooks of both sexes.

     So, not without some regret, Francis Bennett was lunching in solitude. He was finishing his coffee when Mrs Bennett, having got back home, appeared in the telephote screen.

     'Where have you been, Edith dear?' Francis Bennett enquired.

     'What' Mrs Bennett replied. 'You've finished! ... I must be late, then? ... Where have I been? Of course, I've been with my modiste ... This year's hats are so bewitching! They're not hats at all ... they're domes, they're cupolas! I rather lost count of time'

     'Rather, my dear? You lost it so much that here's my lunch finished.'

     'Well, run along then, my dear ... run along to your work,' Mrs Bennett replied. 'I've still got a visit to make, to my modeleur-couturier.'

     And this couturier was no other than the famous Wormspire, the very man who so judiciously remarked, 'Woman is only a question of shape!'

     Francis Bennett kissed Mrs Bennett's cheek on the telephote screen and went across to the window, where his aero-car was waiting.

     'Where are we going, sir?' asked the aero-coachman. 'Let's see. I've got time ...' Francis Bennett replied. 'Take me to my accumulator works at Niagara.'

<  12  >

     The aero-car, an apparatus splendidly based on the principle of 'heavier than air', shot across space at a speed of about four hundred miles an hour. Below him were spread out the towns with their moving pavements which carry the wayfarers along the streets, and the countryside, covered, as though by an immense spider's web, by the network of electric wires.

     Within half an hour, Francis Bennett had reached his works at Niagara, where, after using the force of the cataracts to produce energy, he sold or hired it out to the consumers. Then, his visit over, he returned, by way of Philadelphia, Boston, and New York, to Centropolis, where his aero-car put him down about five o'clock.

     The waiting-room of the Earth Herald was crowded. A careful lookout was being kept for Francis Bennett to return for the daily audience he gave to his petitioners. They included the capital's acquisitive inventors, company promoters with enterprises to suggest - all splendid, to listen to them. Among these different proposals he had to make a choice, reject the bad ones, look into the doubtful ones, give a welcome to the good ones.

     He soon got rid of those who had only got useless or impracticable schemes. One of them - didn't he claim to revive painting, an art which had fallen into such desuetude that Millet's Angelus had just been sold for fifteen francs - thanks to the progress of colour photography invented at the end of the twentieth century by the Japanese, whose name was on everybody's lips - Aruziswa-Riochi-Nichome-Sanjukamboz-Kio-Baski-Ku? Another, hadn't he discovered the biogene bacillus which, after being introduced into the human organism, would make man immortal? This one, a chemist, hadn't he discovered a new substance Nihilium, of which a gram would cost only three million dollars? That one, a most daring physician, wasn't he claiming that he'd found a remedy for a cold in the head?

     All these dreamers were at once shown out.

     A few of the others received a better welcome, and foremost among them was a young man whose broad brow indicated a high degree of intelligence.

<  13  >

     'Sir,' he began, 'though the number of elements used to be estimated at seventy-five, it has now been reduced to three, as no doubt you are aware?'

     'Perfectly,' Francis Bennett replied.

     'Well, sir, I'm on the point of reducing the three to one. If I don't run out of money I'll have succeeded in three weeks.'

     'And then?'

     'Then, sir, I shall really have discovered the absolute.'

     'And the results of that discovery?'

     'It will be to make the creation of all forms of matter easy - stone, wood, metal, fibrin . . .'

     'Are you saying you're going to be able to construct a human being?'

     'Completely ... The only thing missing will be the soul!'

     'Only that!' was the ironical reply of Francis Bennett, who however assigned the young fellow to the scientific editorial department of his journal.

     A second inventor, using as a basis some old experiments that dated from the nineteenth century and had often been repeated since, had the idea of moving a whole city in a single block. He suggested, as a demonstration, the town of Saaf, situated fifteen miles from the sea; after conveying it on rails down to the shore, he would transform it into a seaside resort. That would add an enormous value to the ground already built on and to be built over.

     Francis Bennett, attracted by this project, agreed to take a half-share in it.

     'You know, sir,' said a third applicant, 'that, thanks to our solar and terrestrial accumulators and transformers, we've been able to equalise the seasons. I suggest doing even better. By converting into heat part of the energy we have at our disposal and transmitting the heat to the polar regions we can melt the ice ...'

<  14  >

     'Leave your plans with me,' Francis Bennett replied, 'and come back

     in a week.'

     Finally, a fourth savant brought the news that one of the questions which had excited the whole world was about to be solved that very evening.

     As is well known, a century ago a daring experiment made by Dr Nathaniel Faithburn had attracted public attention. A convinced supporter of the idea of human hibernation - the possibility of arresting the vital functions and then reawakening them after a certain time - he had decided to test the value of the method on himself. After, by a holograph will, describing the operations necessary to restore him to life a hundred years later to the day, he had exposed himself to a cold of 172 degrees centigrade (278 degrees Fahrenheit) below zero; thus reduced to a mummified state, he had been shut up in a tomb for the stated period.

     Now it was exactly on that very day, 25 July 2889, that the period expired, and Francis Bennett had just received an offer to proceed in one of the rooms of the Earth Herald office with the resurrection so impatiently waited for. The public could then be kept in touch with it second by second.

     The proposal was accepted, and as the operation was not to take place until ten that evening, Francis Bennett went to stretch himself out in an easy-chair in the audition-room. Then, pressing a button, he was put into communication with the Central Concert.

     After so busy a day, what a charm he found in the works of our greatest masters, based, as everybody knows, on a series of delicious harmonico-algebraic formulae!

     The room had been darkened, and, plunged into an ecstatic half-sleep, Francis Bennett could not even see himself. But a door opened suddenly.

     'Who's there?' he asked, touching a commutator placed beneath his

     hand.

<  15  >

     At once, by an electric effect produced on the ether, the air became luminous.

     'Oh, it's you, Doctor?' he asked.

     'Myself,' replied Dr Sam, who had come to pay his daily visit (annual subscription). 'How's it going?'

     'Fine!'

     'All the better ... Let's see your tongue?'

     He looked at it through a microscope.

     'Good ... And your pulse?'

     He tested it with a pulsograph, similar to the instruments which record earthquakes.

     'Splendid! ... And your appetite?'

     'Ugh!'

     'Oh, your stomach! ... It isn't going too well, your stomach! ... It's getting old, your stomach is! ... We'll certainly have to get you a new one!'

     'We'll see!' Francis Bennett replied, 'and meantime, Doctor, you'll dine with me.'

     During the meal, phonotelephotic communication had been set up with Paris. Mrs Bennett was at her table this time, and the dinner, livened up by Dr Sam's jokes, was delightful. Hardly was it over than:

     'When do you expect to get back to Centropolis, dear Edith?' asked Francis Bennett.

     'I'm going to start this moment.'

     'By tube or aero-train?'

     'By tube.'

     'Then you'll be here?'

     'At eleven fifty-nine this evening.'

     'Paris time?'

     'No, no! ... Centropolis time.'

     'Goodbye then, and above all don't miss the tube!'

     These submarine tubes, by which one travels from Paris in two hundred and ninety-five minutes, are certainly much preferable to the aero-trains, which only manage six hundred miles an hour.

<  16  >

     The doctor had gone, after promising to return to be present at the resurrection of his colleague Nathaniel Faithburn. Wishing to draw up his daily accounts, Francis Bennett went into his private office. An enormous operation, when it concerns an enterprise whose expenditure rises to eight hundred thousand dollars every day! Fortunately, the development of modern mechanisation has greatly facilitated this work. Helped by the piano-electric-computer, Francis Bennett soon completed his task.

     It was time. Hardly had he struck the last key of the mechanical totalisator than his presence was asked for in the experimental room. He went off to it at once, and was welcomed by a large cortege of scientists, who had been joined by Dr Sam.

     Nathaniel Faithburn's body is there, on the bier, placed on trestles in the centre of the room.

     The telephote is switched on. The whole world will be able to follow the various phases of the operation.

     The coffin is opened ... Nathaniel Faithburn's body is taken out ... is still like a mummy, yellow hard, dry. It sounds like wood ... It is submitted to heat ... electricity ... No result ... It's hypnotised ... It's exposed to suggestion ... Nothing can overcome that ultracataleptic state.

     'Well, Dr Sam!' asks Francis Bennett.

     The doctor leans over the body; he examines it very carefully ... He introduces into it, by means of a hypodermic, a few drops of the famous Brown-Sequard elixir, which is once again in fashion ... The mummy is more mummified than ever.

     'Oh well,' Dr Sam replies, 'I think the hibernation has lasted too long ...'

     'Oh!'

     'And Nathaniel Faithburn is dead.'

     'Dead?'

     'As dead as anybody could be!'

     'And how long has he been dead?'

<  17  >

     'How long? ...' Dr Sam replies. But ... a hundred years - that is to say, since he had the unhappy idea of freezing himself for pure love of science'

     'Then', Francis Bennett comments, that's a method which still needs to be perfected!'

     'Perfected is the word,' replies Dr Sam, while the scientific commission on hibernation carries away its funereal bundle.

 

Followed by Dr Sam, Francis Bennett regained his room, and as he seemed very tired after so very full a day, the doctor advised him to take a bath before going to bed.

     'You're quite right, Doctor ... That will refresh me ...'

     'It will, Mr Bennett, and if you like I'll order one on my way out ...'

     'There's no need for that, Doctor. There's always a bath all ready in the office, and I needn't even have the trouble of going out of my room to take it. Look, simply by touching this button, that bath will start moving, and you'll see it come along all by itself with the water at a temperature of sixty-five degrees!'

     Francis Bennett had just touched the button. A rumbling sound began, got louder, increased ... Then one of the doors opened, and the bath appeared, gliding along on its rails ...

     Heavens! While Dr Sam veils his face, little screams of frightened modesty arise from the bath ...

     Brought to the office by the transatlantic tube half an hour before, Mrs Bennett was inside it.

 

Next day, 26 July 2889, the director of the Earth Herald recommenced his tour of twelve miles across his office. That evening, when his totalisator had been brought into action, it was at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars that it calculated the profits of that day - fifty thousand more than the day before.

<  18  >

     A fine job, that of a journalist at the end of the twenty-ninth century!

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