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With a Vengeance   By:

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[Illustration: Illustrated by KNOTH]

With a Vengeance

By J. B. WOODLEY

Keep this in mind in teaching apprentices: They are future journeymen and even masters!

October 10, 2119 New San Francisco

Today, at precisely 9:50 a.m., Kyle became First Imperator of Terra. His coup was so fantastically direct and facile that I am almost tempted to believe that old cliche "the time was right."

Well, however badly it can be expressed, I suppose the world was ripe for this sort of thing. I can remember when much the same used to happen in elections. One man would win over another by a tremendous majority, and historians would then set about to show how "the time was right."

Why do I persist in tormenting myself with that phrase! Analytically, I might say I resent this new aristocracy of politics. Specifically, I might say I resent Kyle.

And both are true, both are true.

This swing, though, to absolute monarchy, complete with the installation of the Kyle Dynasty damn him! This is something which psychologists, not historians, must explain. Has the age of the Common Man, so bravely flaunted for over one hundred years, truly come to nothing? Would people really prefer a figurehead and a symbol of undisputed authority?

In this instance, one may again conclude that "the time was right." Contact with planets like Mars and Venus undoubtedly had its influence. I must confess that the televised audiences with the Mrit of Venus and the Znam of Mars did make Terra's President I should say, late President look a bit seedy. I daresay there is such a thing as a too common Common Man.

Kyle was such, twenty years ago. His name wasn't Kyle then, although it was something very like that. I must see if any of the old ledgers are about! I'd like to see what the Imperator's name was when His Most Imperial Majesty was an apprenticed nobody!

October 12, 2119 New San Francisco

I found it! Buried in stacks of dust behind the old printing press that was once the heart of my Beacon Sentinel . There were others there too. Spent a delightful morning with them, reading back through those old account books.

I wonder whatever happened to Hastings? And Drew? Best linotype men I ever had. They became pilots, or something, as I recall. Too bad, too bad. They could have had such brilliant futures, both of them. Why they felt they must ally themselves with the non thinking, muscle flexing variety of mankind of which our Ruler is an excellent example I'll never know.

Ah, yes, Kyle! In those days he was Kilmer Jones. I don't remember him too well, actually, except for the day I fired him.

I suppose he was right in changing his name. We couldn't very well have an Imperator named Kilmer the First, or Jones the First. Much too common, not at all in keeping.

Gawky fellow that Kilmer. When Bard brought me a sample of his work I guess I'll have to call it that we both had a good laugh over it! Atrocious spelling! Couldn't follow the proofreader's marks. Indeed, I wonder if the fellow could even read! The punctuation! And the grammar!

I called the boy to the office that morning or was it the next day? No matter. I called him in and told him, as kindly as possible, that I thought there were other vocations to which he might be better suited. The irony of it! Kilmer Jones Kyle I!

And he stood there, I remember, with those seventeen year old hands that were all knuckles and bone and chapped skin, twisting those hands and shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

"Please, Mr. Booth," he said, his voice cracking. "I ain't got no other job in mind. I wanna be a noospaper man. I ain't got no "

If not for that "ain't got no," I think I might have relented... Continue reading book >>




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