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