a guest Mar 14th, 2019 57 Never
Not a member of Pastebin yet? Sign Up, it unlocks many cool features!
  3. by Ayn Rand
  5. Chapter 1
  7. It is a sin to write this. It is a sin to think words no others think
  8. and to put them down upon a paper no others are to see. It is base and
  9. evil. It is as if we were speaking alone to no ears but our own. And
  10. we know well that there is no transgression blacker than to do or think
  11. alone. We have broken the laws. The laws say that men may not write
  12. unless the Council of Vocations bid them so. May we be forgiven!
  14. But this is not the only sin upon us. We have committed a greater crime,
  15. and for this crime there is no name. What punishment awaits us if it be
  16. discovered we know not, for no such crime has come in the memory of men
  17. and there are no laws to provide for it.
  19. It is dark here. The flame of the candle stands still in the air.
  20. Nothing moves in this tunnel save our hand on the paper. We are alone
  21. here under the earth. It is a fearful word, alone. The laws say that
  22. none among men may be alone, ever and at any time, for this is the great
  23. transgression and the root of all evil. But we have broken many laws.
  24. And now there is nothing here save our one body, and it is strange to
  25. see only two legs stretched on the ground, and on the wall before us the
  26. shadow of our one head.
  28. The walls are cracked and water runs upon them in thin threads without
  29. sound, black and glistening as blood. We stole the candle from the
  30. larder of the Home of the Street Sweepers. We shall be sentenced to ten
  31. years in the Palace of Corrective Detention if it be discovered. But
  32. this matters not. It matters only that the light is precious and we
  33. should not waste it to write when we need it for that work which is our
  34. crime. Nothing matters save the work, our secret, our evil, our precious
  35. work. Still, we must also write, for--may the Council have mercy upon
  36. us!--we wish to speak for once to no ears but our own.
  38. Our name is Equality 7-2521, as it is written on the iron bracelet
  39. which all men wear on their left wrists with their names upon it. We are
  40. twenty-one years old. We are six feet tall, and this is a burden, for
  41. there are not many men who are six feet tall. Ever have the Teachers and
  42. the Leaders pointed to us and frowned and said:
  44. "There is evil in your bones, Equality 7-2521, for your body has grown
  45. beyond the bodies of your brothers." But we cannot change our bones nor
  46. our body.
  48. We were born with a curse. It has always driven us to thoughts which are
  49. forbidden. It has always given us wishes which men may not wish. We know
  50. that we are evil, but there is no will in us and no power to resist it.
  51. This is our wonder and our secret fear, that we know and do not resist.
  53. We strive to be like all our brother men, for all men must be alike.
  54. Over the portals of the Palace of the World Council, there are words cut
  55. in the marble, which we repeat to ourselves whenever we are tempted:
  63. We repeat this to ourselves, but it helps us not.
  65. These words were cut long ago. There is green mould in the grooves of
  66. the letters and yellow streaks on the marble, which come from more
  67. years than men could count. And these words are the truth, for they are
  68. written on the Palace of the World Council, and the World Council is the
  69. body of all truth. Thus has it been ever since the Great Rebirth, and
  70. farther back than that no memory can reach.
  72. But we must never speak of the times before the Great Rebirth, else we
  73. are sentenced to three years in the Palace of Corrective Detention. It
  74. is only the Old Ones who whisper about it in the evenings, in the Home
  75. of the Useless. They whisper many strange things, of the towers which
  76. rose to the sky, in those Unmentionable Times, and of the wagons which
  77. moved without horses, and of the lights which burned without flame. But
  78. those times were evil. And those times passed away, when men saw the
  79. Great Truth which is this: that all men are one and that there is no
  80. will save the will of all men together.
  82. All men are good and wise. It is only we, Equality 7-2521, we alone who
  83. were born with a curse. For we are not like our brothers. And as we look
  84. back upon our life, we see that it has ever been thus and that it has
  85. brought us step by step to our last, supreme transgression, our crime of
  86. crimes hidden here under the ground.
  88. We remember the Home of the Infants where we lived till we were five
  89. years old, together with all the children of the City who had been born
  90. in the same year. The sleeping halls there were white and clean and bare
  91. of all things save one hundred beds. We were just like all our brothers
  92. then, save for the one transgression: we fought with our brothers. There
  93. are few offenses blacker than to fight with our brothers, at any age and
  94. for any cause whatsoever. The Council of the Home told us so, and of all
  95. the children of that year, we were locked in the cellar most often.
  97. When we were five years old, we were sent to the Home of the Students,
  98. where there are ten wards, for our ten years of learning. Men must learn
  99. till they reach their fifteenth year. Then they go to work. In the Home
  100. of the Students we arose when the big bell rang in the tower and we went
  101. to our beds when it rang again. Before we removed our garments, we stood
  102. in the great sleeping hall, and we raised our right arms, and we said
  103. all together with the three Teachers at the head:
  105. "We are nothing. Mankind is all. By the grace of our brothers are we
  106. allowed our lives. We exist through, by and for our brothers who are the
  107. State. Amen."
  109. Then we slept. The sleeping halls were white and clean and bare of all
  110. things save one hundred beds.
  112. We, Equality 7-2521, were not happy in those years in the Home of the
  113. Students. It was not that the learning was too hard for us. It was that
  114. the learning was too easy. This is a great sin, to be born with a head
  115. which is too quick. It is not good to be different from our brothers,
  116. but it is evil to be superior to them. The Teachers told us so, and they
  117. frowned when they looked upon us.
  119. So we fought against this curse. We tried to forget our lessons, but we
  120. always remembered. We tried not to understand what the Teachers taught,
  121. but we always understood it before the Teachers had spoken. We looked
  122. upon Union 5-3992, who were a pale boy with only half a brain, and we
  123. tried to say and do as they did, that we might be like them, like Union
  124. 5-3992, but somehow the Teachers knew that we were not. And we were
  125. lashed more often than all the other children.
  127. The Teachers were just, for they had been appointed by the Councils, and
  128. the Councils are the voice of all justice, for they are the voice of all
  129. men. And if sometimes, in the secret darkness of our heart, we regret
  130. that which befell us on our fifteenth birthday, we know that it was
  131. through our own guilt. We had broken a law, for we had not paid heed to
  132. the words of our Teachers. The Teachers had said to us all:
  134. "Dare not choose in your minds the work you would like to do when you
  135. leave the Home of the Students. You shall do that which the Council of
  136. Vocations shall prescribe for you. For the Council of Vocations knows in
  137. its great wisdom where you are needed by your brother men, better than
  138. you can know it in your unworthy little minds. And if you are not needed
  139. by your brother man, there is no reason for you to burden the earth with
  140. your bodies."
  142. We knew this well, in the years of our childhood, but our curse broke
  143. our will. We were guilty and we confess it here: we were guilty of
  144. the great Transgression of Preference. We preferred some work and some
  145. lessons to the others. We did not listen well to the history of all the
  146. Councils elected since the Great Rebirth. But we loved the Science of
  147. Things. We wished to know. We wished to know about all the things which
  148. make the earth around us. We asked so many questions that the Teachers
  149. forbade it.
  151. We think that there are mysteries in the sky and under the water and in
  152. the plants which grow. But the Council of Scholars has said that there
  153. are no mysteries, and the Council of Scholars knows all things. And we
  154. learned much from our Teachers. We learned that the earth is flat and
  155. that the sun revolves around it, which causes the day and the night. We
  156. learned the names of all the winds which blow over the seas and push the
  157. sails of our great ships. We learned how to bleed men to cure them of
  158. all ailments.
  160. We loved the Science of Things. And in the darkness, in the secret hour,
  161. when we awoke in the night and there were no brothers around us, but
  162. only their shapes in the beds and their snores, we closed our eyes, and
  163. we held our lips shut, and we stopped our breath, that no shudder might
  164. let our brothers see or hear or guess, and we thought that we wished to
  165. be sent to the Home of the Scholars when our time would come.
  167. All the great modern inventions come from the Home of the Scholars, such
  168. as the newest one, which was found only a hundred years ago, of how to
  169. make candles from wax and string; also, how to make glass, which is put
  170. in our windows to protect us from the rain. To find these things, the
  171. Scholars must study the earth and learn from the rivers, from the
  172. sands, from the winds and the rocks. And if we went to the Home of the
  173. Scholars, we could learn from these also. We could ask questions of
  174. these, for they do not forbid questions.
  176. And questions give us no rest. We know not why our curse makes us seek
  177. we know not what, ever and ever. But we cannot resist it. It whispers
  178. to us that there are great things on this earth of ours, and that we
  179. can know them if we try, and that we must know them. We ask, why must we
  180. know, but it has no answer to give us. We must know that we may know.
  182. So we wished to be sent to the Home of the Scholars. We wished it so
  183. much that our hands trembled under the blankets in the night, and we bit
  184. our arm to stop that other pain which we could not endure. It was evil
  185. and we dared not face our brothers in the morning. For men may wish
  186. nothing for themselves. And we were punished when the Council of
  187. Vocations came to give us our life Mandates which tell those who reach
  188. their fifteenth year what their work is to be for the rest of their
  189. days.
  191. The Council of Vocations came on the first day of spring, and they sat
  192. in the great hall. And we who were fifteen and all the Teachers came
  193. into the great hall. And the Council of Vocations sat on a high dais,
  194. and they had but two words to speak to each of the Students. They called
  195. the Students' names, and when the Students stepped before them, one
  196. after another, the Council said: "Carpenter" or "Doctor" or "Cook" or
  197. "Leader." Then each Student raised their right arm and said: "The will
  198. of our brothers be done."
  200. Now if the Council has said "Carpenter" or "Cook," the Students so
  201. assigned go to work and they do not study any further. But if the
  202. Council has said "Leader," then those Students go into the Home of
  203. the Leaders, which is the greatest house in the City, for it has three
  204. stories. And there they study for many years, so that they may become
  205. candidates and be elected to the City Council and the State Council and
  206. the World Council--by a free and general vote of all men. But we wished
  207. not to be a Leader, even though it is a great honor. We wished to be a
  208. Scholar.
  210. So we awaited our turn in the great hall and then we heard the Council
  211. of Vocations call our name: "Equality 7-2521." We walked to the dais,
  212. and our legs did not tremble, and we looked up at the Council. There
  213. were five members of the Council, three of the male gender and two of
  214. the female. Their hair was white and their faces were cracked as the
  215. clay of a dry river bed. They were old. They seemed older than the
  216. marble of the Temple of the World Council. They sat before us and they
  217. did not move. And we saw no breath to stir the folds of their white
  218. togas. But we knew that they were alive, for a finger of the hand of the
  219. oldest rose, pointed to us, and fell down again. This was the only
  220. thing which moved, for the lips of the oldest did not move as they said:
  221. "Street Sweeper."
  223. We felt the cords of our neck grow tight as our head rose higher to look
  224. upon the faces of the Council, and we were happy. We knew we had been
  225. guilty, but now we had a way to atone for it. We would accept our Life
  226. Mandate, and we would work for our brothers, gladly and willingly, and
  227. we would erase our sin against them, which they did not know, but we
  228. knew. So we were happy, and proud of ourselves and of our victory over
  229. ourselves. We raised our right arm and we spoke, and our voice was the
  230. clearest, the steadiest voice in the hall that day, and we said:
  232. "The will of our brothers be done."
  234. And we looked straight into the eyes of the Council, but their eyes were
  235. as cold blue glass buttons.
  237. So we went into the Home of the Street Sweepers. It is a grey house on a
  238. narrow street. There is a sundial in its courtyard, by which the Council
  239. of the Home can tell the hours of the day and when to ring the bell.
  240. When the bell rings, we all arise from our beds. The sky is green and
  241. cold in our windows to the east. The shadow on the sundial marks off a
  242. half-hour while we dress and eat our breakfast in the dining hall, where
  243. there are five long tables with twenty clay plates and twenty clay cups
  244. on each table. Then we go to work in the streets of the City, with our
  245. brooms and our rakes. In five hours, when the sun is high, we return to
  246. the Home and we eat our midday meal, for which one-half hour is allowed.
  247. Then we go to work again. In five hours, the shadows are blue on the
  248. pavements, and the sky is blue with a deep brightness which is not
  249. bright. We come back to have our dinner, which lasts one hour. Then the
  250. bell rings and we walk in a straight column to one of the City Halls,
  251. for the Social Meeting. Other columns of men arrive from the Homes
  252. of the different Trades. The candles are lit, and the Councils of the
  253. different Homes stand in a pulpit, and they speak to us of our duties
  254. and of our brother men. Then visiting Leaders mount the pulpit and they
  255. read to us the speeches which were made in the City Council that day,
  256. for the City Council represents all men and all men must know. Then we
  257. sing hymns, the Hymn of Brotherhood, and the Hymn of Equality, and the
  258. Hymn of the Collective Spirit. The sky is a soggy purple when we return
  259. to the Home. Then the bell rings and we walk in a straight column to the
  260. City Theatre for three hours of Social Recreation. There a play is shown
  261. upon the stage, with two great choruses from the Home of the Actors,
  262. which speak and answer all together, in two great voices. The plays
  263. are about toil and how good it is. Then we walk back to the Home in a
  264. straight column. The sky is like a black sieve pierced by silver drops
  265. that tremble, ready to burst through. The moths beat against the street
  266. lanterns. We go to our beds and we sleep, till the bell rings again.
  267. The sleeping halls are white and clean and bare of all things save one
  268. hundred beds.
  270. Thus have we lived each day of four years, until two springs ago when
  271. our crime happened. Thus must all men live until they are forty. At
  272. forty, they are worn out. At forty, they are sent to the Home of the
  273. Useless, where the Old Ones live. The Old Ones do not work, for the
  274. State takes care of them. They sit in the sun in summer and they sit by
  275. the fire in winter. They do not speak often, for they are weary. The
  276. Old Ones know that they are soon to die. When a miracle happens and some
  277. live to be forty-five, they are the Ancient Ones, and the children stare
  278. at them when passing by the Home of the Useless. Such is to be our life,
  279. as that of all our brothers and of the brothers who came before us.
  281. Such would have been our life, had we not committed our crime which
  282. changed all things for us. And it was our curse which drove us to our
  283. crime. We had been a good Street Sweeper and like all our brother Street
  284. Sweepers, save for our cursed wish to know. We looked too long at the
  285. stars at night, and at the trees and the earth. And when we cleaned
  286. the yard of the Home of the Scholars, we gathered the glass vials, the
  287. pieces of metal, the dried bones which they had discarded. We wished to
  288. keep these things and to study them, but we had no place to hide them.
  289. So we carried them to the City Cesspool. And then we made the discovery.
  291. It was on a day of the spring before last. We Street Sweepers work
  292. in brigades of three, and we were with Union 5-3992, they of the
  293. half-brain, and with International 4-8818. Now Union 5-3992 are a sickly
  294. lad and sometimes they are stricken with convulsions, when their
  295. mouth froths and their eyes turn white. But International 4-8818
  296. are different. They are a tall, strong youth and their eyes are like
  297. fireflies, for there is laughter in their eyes. We cannot look upon
  298. International 4-8818 and not smile in answer. For this they were not
  299. liked in the Home of the Students, as it is not proper to smile without
  300. reason. And also they were not liked because they took pieces of coal
  301. and they drew pictures upon the walls, and they were pictures which made
  302. men laugh. But it is only our brothers in the Home of the Artists who
  303. are permitted to draw pictures, so International 4-8818 were sent to the
  304. Home of the Street Sweepers, like ourselves.
  306. International 4-8818 and we are friends. This is an evil thing to say,
  307. for it is a transgression, the great Transgression of Preference, to
  308. love any among men better than the others, since we must love all men
  309. and all men are our friends. So International 4-8818 and we have never
  310. spoken of it. But we know. We know, when we look into each other's eyes.
  311. And when we look thus without words, we both know other things also,
  312. strange things for which there are no words, and these things frighten
  313. us.
  315. So on that day of the spring before last, Union 5-3992 were stricken
  316. with convulsions on the edge of the City, near the City Theatre. We
  317. left them to lie in the shade of the Theatre tent and we went with
  318. International 4-8818 to finish our work. We came together to the great
  319. ravine behind the Theatre. It is empty save for trees and weeds.
  320. Beyond the ravine there is a plain, and beyond the plain there lies the
  321. Uncharted Forest, about which men must not think.
  323. We were gathering the papers and the rags which the wind had blown from
  324. the Theatre, when we saw an iron bar among the weeds. It was old and
  325. rusted by many rains. We pulled with all our strength, but we could not
  326. move it. So we called International 4-8818, and together we scraped the
  327. earth around the bar. Of a sudden the earth fell in before us, and we
  328. saw an old iron grill over a black hole.
  330. International 4-8818 stepped back. But we pulled at the grill and it
  331. gave way. And then we saw iron rings as steps leading down a shaft into
  332. a darkness without bottom.
  334. "We shall go down," we said to International 4-8818.
  336. "It is forbidden," they answered.
  338. We said: "The Council does not know of this hole, so it cannot be
  339. forbidden."
  341. And they answered: "Since the Council does not know of this hole,
  342. there can be no law permitting to enter it. And everything which is not
  343. permitted by law is forbidden."
  345. But we said: "We shall go, none the less."
  347. They were frightened, but they stood by and watched us go.
  349. We hung on the iron rings with our hands and our feet. We could see
  350. nothing below us. And above us the hole open upon the sky grew smaller
  351. and smaller, till it came to be the size of a button. But still we went
  352. down. Then our foot touched the ground. We rubbed our eyes, for we could
  353. not see. Then our eyes became used to the darkness, but we could not
  354. believe what we saw.
  356. No men known to us could have built this place, nor the men known to
  357. our brothers who lived before us, and yet it was built by men. It was a
  358. great tunnel. Its walls were hard and smooth to the touch; it felt like
  359. stone, but it was not stone. On the ground there were long thin tracks
  360. of iron, but it was not iron; it felt smooth and cold as glass. We
  361. knelt, and we crawled forward, our hand groping along the iron line to
  362. see where it would lead. But there was an unbroken night ahead. Only the
  363. iron tracks glowed through it, straight and white, calling us to follow.
  364. But we could not follow, for we were losing the puddle of light behind
  365. us. So we turned and we crawled back, our hand on the iron line. And our
  366. heart beat in our fingertips, without reason. And then we knew.
  368. We knew suddenly that this place was left from the Unmentionable Times.
  369. So it was true, and those Times had been, and all the wonders of those
  370. Times. Hundreds upon hundreds of years ago men knew secrets which we
  371. have lost. And we thought: "This is a foul place. They are damned
  372. who touch the things of the Unmentionable Times." But our hand which
  373. followed the track, as we crawled, clung to the iron as if it would not
  374. leave it, as if the skin of our hand were thirsty and begging of the
  375. metal some secret fluid beating in its coldness.
  377. We returned to the earth. International 4-8818 looked upon us and
  378. stepped back.
  380. "Equality 7-2521," they said, "your face is white."
  382. But we could not speak and we stood looking upon them.
  384. They backed away, as if they dared not touch us. Then they smiled, but
  385. it was not a gay smile; it was lost and pleading. But still we could not
  386. speak. Then they said:
  388. "We shall report our find to the City Council and both of us will be
  389. rewarded."
  391. And then we spoke. Our voice was hard and there was no mercy in our
  392. voice. We said:
  394. "We shall not report our find to the City Council. We shall not report
  395. it to any men."
  397. They raised their hands to their ears, for never had they heard such
  398. words as these.
  400. "International 4-8818," we asked, "will you report us to the Council and
  401. see us lashed to death before your eyes?"
  403. They stood straight all of a sudden and they answered: "Rather would we
  404. die."
  406. "Then," we said, "keep silent. This place is ours. This place belongs
  407. to us, Equality 7-2521, and to no other men on earth. And if ever we
  408. surrender it, we shall surrender our life with it also."
  410. Then we saw that the eyes of International 4-8818 were full to the
  411. lids with tears they dared not drop. They whispered, and their voice
  412. trembled, so that their words lost all shape:
  414. "The will of the Council is above all things, for it is the will of
  415. our brothers, which is holy. But if you wish it so, we shall obey you.
  416. Rather shall we be evil with you than good with all our brothers. May
  417. the Council have mercy upon both our hearts!"
  419. Then we walked away together and back to the Home of the Street
  420. Sweepers. And we walked in silence.
  422. Thus did it come to pass that each night, when the stars are high and
  423. the Street Sweepers sit in the City Theatre, we, Equality 7-2521, steal
  424. out and run through the darkness to our place. It is easy to leave the
  425. Theatre; when the candles are blown out and the Actors come onto the
  426. stage, no eyes can see us as we crawl under our seat and under the cloth
  427. of the tent. Later, it is easy to steal through the shadows and fall in
  428. line next to International 4-8818, as the column leaves the Theatre. It
  429. is dark in the streets and there are no men about, for no men may walk
  430. through the City when they have no mission to walk there. Each night, we
  431. run to the ravine, and we remove the stones which we have piled upon the
  432. iron grill to hide it from the men. Each night, for three hours, we are
  433. under the earth, alone.
  435. We have stolen candles from the Home of the Street Sweepers, we have
  436. stolen flints and knives and paper, and we have brought them to this
  437. place. We have stolen glass vials and powders and acids from the Home of
  438. the Scholars. Now we sit in the tunnel for three hours each night and
  439. we study. We melt strange metals, and we mix acids, and we cut open the
  440. bodies of the animals which we find in the City Cesspool. We have built
  441. an oven of the bricks we gathered in the streets. We burn the wood we
  442. find in the ravine. The fire flickers in the oven and blue shadows dance
  443. upon the walls, and there is no sound of men to disturb us.
  445. We have stolen manuscripts. This is a great offense. Manuscripts are
  446. precious, for our brothers in the Home of the Clerks spend one year to
  447. copy one single script in their clear handwriting. Manuscripts are rare
  448. and they are kept in the Home of the Scholars. So we sit under the earth
  449. and we read the stolen scripts. Two years have passed since we found
  450. this place. And in these two years we have learned more than we had
  451. learned in the ten years of the Home of the Students.
  453. We have learned things which are not in the scripts. We have solved
  454. secrets of which the Scholars have no knowledge. We have come to see how
  455. great is the unexplored, and many lifetimes will not bring us to the end
  456. of our quest. But we wish no end to our quest. We wish nothing, save to
  457. be alone and to learn, and to feel as if with each day our sight were
  458. growing sharper than the hawk's and clearer than rock crystal.
  460. Strange are the ways of evil. We are false in the faces of our brothers.
  461. We are defying the will of our Councils. We alone, of the thousands who
  462. walk this earth, we alone in this hour are doing a work which has no
  463. purpose save that we wish to do it. The evil of our crime is not for the
  464. human mind to probe. The nature of our punishment, if it be discovered,
  465. is not for the human heart to ponder. Never, not in the memory of the
  466. Ancient Ones' Ancients, never have men done that which we are doing.
  468. And yet there is no shame in us and no regret. We say to ourselves that
  469. we are a wretch and a traitor. But we feel no burden upon our spirit and
  470. no fear in our heart. And it seems to us that our spirit is clear as
  471. a lake troubled by no eyes save those of the sun. And in our
  472. heart--strange are the ways of evil!--in our heart there is the first
  473. peace we have known in twenty years.
RAW Paste Data
We use cookies for various purposes including analytics. By continuing to use Pastebin, you agree to our use of cookies as described in the Cookies Policy. OK, I Understand