Next morning I rose somewhat before the breakfast hour. As I descended
the stairs, Edith stepped into the hall from the room which had been
the scene of the morning interview between us described some chapters
"Ah!" she exclaimed, with a charmingly arch expression, "you thought
to slip out unbeknown for another of those solitary morning rambles
which have such nice effects on you. But you see I am up too early for
you this time. You are fairly caught."
"You discredit the efficacy of your own cure," I said, "by supposing
that such a ramble would now be attended with bad consequences."
"I am very glad to hear that," she said. "I was in here arranging some
flowers for the breakfast table when I heard you come down, and
fancied I detected something surreptitious in your step on the
"You did me injustice," I replied. "I had no idea of going out at
Despite her effort to convey an impression that my interception was
purely accidental, I had at the time a dim suspicion of what I
afterwards learned to be the fact, namely, that this sweet creature,
in pursuance of her self-assumed guardianship over me, had risen for
the last two or three mornings at an unheard-of hour, to insure
against the possibility of my wandering off alone in case I should be
affected as on the former occasion. Receiving permission to assist her
in making up the breakfast bouquet, I followed her into the room from
which she had emerged.
"Are you sure," she asked, "that you are quite done with those
terrible sensations you had that morning?"
"I can't say that I do not have times of feeling decidedly queer," I
replied, "moments when my personal identity seems an open question. It
would be too much to expect after my experience that I should not have
such sensations occasionally, but as for being carried entirely off my
feet, as I was on the point of being that morning, I think the danger
"I shall never forget how you looked that morning," she said.
"If you had merely saved my life," I continued, "I might, perhaps,
find words to express my gratitude, but it was my reason you saved,
and there are no words that would not belittle my debt to you." I
spoke with emotion, and her eyes grew suddenly moist.
"It is too much to believe all this," she said, "but it is very
delightful to hear you say it. What I did was very little. I was very
much distressed for you, I know. Father never thinks anything ought to
astonish us when it can be explained scientifically, as I suppose this
long sleep of yours can be, but even to fancy myself in your place
makes my head swim. I know that I could not have borne it at all."
"That would depend," I replied, "on whether an angel came to support
you with her sympathy in the crisis of your condition, as one came to
me." If my face at all expressed the feelings I had a right to have
toward this sweet and lovely young girl, who had played so angelic a
r=F4le toward me, its expression must have been very worshipful just
then. The expression or the words, or both together, caused her now to
drop her eyes with a charming blush.
"For the matter of that," I said, "if your experience has not been as
startling as mine, it must have been rather overwhelming to see a man
belonging to a strange century, and apparently a hundred years dead,
raised to life."
"It seemed indeed strange beyond any describing at first," she said,
"but when we began to put ourselves in your place, and realize how
much stranger it must seem to you, I fancy we forgot our own feelings
a good deal, at least I know I did. It seemed then not so much
astounding as interesting and touching beyond anything ever heard of
"But does it not come over you as astounding to sit at table with me,
seeing who I am?"
"You must remember that you do not seem so strange to us as we must to
you," she answered. "We belong to a future of which you could not form
an idea, a generation of which you knew nothing until you saw us. But
you belong to a generation of which our forefathers were a part. We
know all about it; the names of many of its members are household
words with us. We have made a study of your ways of living and
thinking; nothing you say or do surprises us, while we say and do
nothing which does not seem strange to you. So you see, Mr. West, that
if you feel that you can, in time, get accustomed to us, you must not
be surprised that from the first we have scarcely found you strange at
"I had not thought of it in that way," I replied. "There is indeed
much in what you say. One can look back a thousand years easier than
forward fifty. A century is not so very long a retrospect. I might
have known your great-grand-parents. Possibly I did. Did they live in
"I believe so."
"You are not sure, then?"
"Yes," she replied. "Now I think, they did."
"I had a very large circle of acquaintances in the city," I said. "It
is not unlikely that I knew or knew of some of them. Perhaps I may
have known them well. Wouldn't it be interesting if I should chance
to be able to tell you all about your great-grandfather, for
"Do you know your genealogy well enough to tell me who your forbears
were in the Boston of my day?"
"Perhaps, then, you will some time tell me what some of their names
She was engrossed in arranging a troublesome spray of green, and did
not reply at once. Steps upon the stairway indicated that the other
members of the family were descending.
"Perhaps, some time," she said.
After breakfast, Dr. Leete suggested taking me to inspect the central
warehouse and observe actually in operation the machinery of
distribution, which Edith had described to me. As we walked away from
the house I said, "It is now several days that I have been living in
your household on a most extraordinary footing, or rather on none at
all. I have not spoken of this aspect of my position before because
there were so many other aspects yet more extraordinary. But now that
I am beginning a little to feel my feet under me, and to realize that,
however I came here, I am here, and must make the best of it, I must
speak to you on this point."
"As for your being a guest in my house," replied Dr. Leete, "I pray
you not to begin to be uneasy on that point, for I mean to keep you a
long time yet. With all your modesty, you can but realize that such a
guest as yourself is an acquisition not willingly to be parted with."
"Thanks, doctor," I said. "It would be absurd, certainly, for me to
affect any oversensitiveness about accepting the temporary hospitality
of one to whom I owe it that I am not still awaiting the end of the
world in a living tomb. But if I am to be a permanent citizen of this
century I must have some standing in it. Now, in my time a person more
or less entering the world, however he got in, would not be noticed in
the unorganized throng of men, and might make a place for himself
anywhere he chose if he were strong enough. But nowadays everybody is
a part of a system with a distinct place and function. I am outside
the system, and don't see how I can get in; there seems no way to get
in, except to be born in or to come in as an emigrant from some other
Dr. Leete laughed heartily.
I admit," he said, "that our system is defective in lacking provision
for cases like yours, but you see nobody anticipated additions to the
world except by the usual process. You need, however, have no fear
that we shall be unable to provide both a place and occupation for you
in due time. You have as yet been brought in contact only with the
members of my family, but you must not suppose that I have kept your
secret. On the contrary, your case, even before your resuscitation,
and vastly more since, has excited the profoundest interest in the
nation. In view of your precarious nervous condition, it was thought
best that I should take exclusive charge of you at first, and that you
should, through me and my family, receive some general idea of the
sort of world you had come back to before you began to make the
acquaintance generally of its inhabitants. As to finding a function
for you in society, there was no hesitation as to what that would be.
Few of us have it in our power to confer so great a service on the
nation as you will be able to when you leave my roof, which, however,
you must not think of doing for a good time yet.
"What can I possibly do?" I asked. "Perhaps you imagine I have some
trade, or art, or special skill. I assure you I have none whatever. I
never earned a dollar in my life, or did an hour's work. I am strong,
and might be a common laborer, but nothing more."
"If that were the most efficient service you were able to render the
nation, you would find that avocation considered quite as respectable
as any other," replied Dr. Leete; "but you can do something else
better. You are easily the master of all our historians on questions
relating to the social condition of the latter part of the nineteenth
century, to us one of the most absorbingly interesting periods of
history; and whenever in due time you have sufficiently familiarized
yourself with our institutions, and are willing to teach us something
concerning those of your day, you will find an historical lectureship
in one of our colleges awaiting you."
"Very good! very good indeed," I said, much relieved by so practical a
suggestion on a point which had begun to trouble me. "If your people
are really so much interested in the nineteenth century, there will
indeed be an occupation ready-made for me. I don't think there is
anything else that I could possibly earn my salt at, but I certainly
may claim without conceit to have some special qualifications for such
a post as you describe."