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:
For a long time we could not speak.
Then we said:
“Such thoughts as these are forbidden,
“But you think such thoughts as these
and you wish us to think them.”
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
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 men.
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 two?
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.
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