THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 10: BEGINNINGS OF CIVILIZATION
No, I had been going cautiously all the while. I had had confidential
agents trickling through the country some time, whose office was
to undermine knighthood by imperceptible degrees, and to gnaw
a little at this and that and the other superstition, and so prepare
the way gradually for a better order of things. I was turning on
my light one-candle-power at a time, and meant to continue to do so.
I had scattered some branch schools secretly about the kingdom,
and they were doing very well. I meant to work this racket more
and more, as time wore on, if nothing occurred to frighten me.
One of my deepest secrets was my West Point--my military academy.
I kept that most jealously out of sight; and I did the same with my
naval academy which I had established at a remote seaport. Both
were prospering to my satisfaction.
Clarence was twenty-two now, and was my head executive, my right
hand. He was a darling; he was equal to anything; there wasn't
anything he couldn't turn his hand to. Of late I had been training
him for journalism, for the time seemed about right for a start
in the newspaper line; nothing big, but just a small weekly for
experimental circulation in my civilization-nurseries. He took
to it like a duck; there was an editor concealed in him, sure.
Already he had doubled himself in one way; he talked sixth century
and wrote nineteenth. His journalistic style was climbing,
steadily; it was already up to the back settlement Alabama mark,
and couldn't be told from the editorial output of that region
either by matter or flavor.
We had another large departure on hand, too. This was a telegraph
and a telephone; our first venture in this line. These wires were
for private service only, as yet, and must be kept private until
a riper day should come. We had a gang of men on the road, working
mainly by night. They were stringing ground wires; we were afraid
to put up poles, for they would attract too much inquiry. Ground
wires were good enough, in both instances, for my wires were
protected by an insulation of my own invention which was perfect.
My men had orders to strike across country, avoiding roads, and
establishing connection with any considerable towns whose lights
betrayed their presence, and leaving experts in charge. Nobody
could tell you how to find any place in the kingdom, for nobody
ever went intentionally to any place, but only struck it by
accident in his wanderings, and then generally left it without
thinking to inquire what its name was. At one time and another
we had sent out topographical expeditions to survey and map the
kingdom, but the priests had always interfered and raised trouble.
So we had given the thing up, for the present; it would be poor
wisdom to antagonize the Church.