The Honorable Went S. Werver, Baron van de Zoom, a classically elegant, Jesuitical figure in his dark judge’s robe, smiled and tapped the gold stylus of a secretary’s electronic notetaker.
“Why, yes! It is a grand idea whose time has come. National entities are a thing of the past, a movement that peaked in the 19th and 20th Centuries and which never produced anything of lasting worth. The United Nations is an anachronism from those times and is no longer useful. Surely, we must change along with the more progressive developments in world society.”
“You mean change along with Dr. Chillingsworth’s pet ideas?”
Baron van de Zoom frowned. “I think you’re putting that a little too indelicately, aren’t you? You seem to have a personal bias against the man, Nils, so that you cannot appreciate the great good he is attempting to do.”
Suddenly, he rushed at the row on the left and seized the first chair and swung it with all his force against the parquet floor. As if it had exploded, chunks and splinters flew every direction and slid across the floor where thickly-bearded Dutch heads had once tumbled and rolled. He did the same with the second, and the third, and so on down the line. While he was about to do the same with the twelfth, the double doors opened at the entrance to his chambers.
“Dr. Nilsson!” his secretary, Mrs. van Geroot, cried, staring at him as if she saw a heathen Viking raider with a gory, red blood-ax in his hand. “Have you gone mad, sir?”
His fearless secretary went directly to him, looking about to see if they were alone. “Then what is it, Dr. Nilsson? What is it?”
He shrugged and sank down on the twelfth chair. “My God! You would think you Dutch, with your long history of fighting the Spanish and other tyrants, would oppose world government, not support it!”
Mrs. van Geroot shook her head. “So that’s it. No Dutch will go along with you on that. But you must know, you never asked me what I might think about the matter.”
“Meinheer, I’m Friesian born and bred, not mainland Dutch! We had a large family and not enough land on Tershelling, so we came here and let the dairy and bulb sheds go to our sons. I took the training, passed all the tests, and here I am! As for these eastern flatlanders, they’re not the same as us. Oh, there’s a lot more of them, and we’re close neighbors, but Friesians, God be praised, have always been free as the birds, free as the frogs, free as the--”
“No, sir, the wind! The wind is free!”
Nilsson was silent for a long moment. He knew she was right. Romans had ruled the Dutch, and many other powerful peoples including the Spanish and French had done the same after them. But her windy little principality had always been free of foreign domination--or much moreso than their Dutch neighbors. Why? Perhaps Frisia had just too much blowing sand and sea spray to suit oppressors from the mainland. It got in their food and eyes and noses! Imagine, a Julius Caesar trying to say something suitably imperious and memorable for future ages to ponder over--when he started to speak all he got for his effort was a mouthful of wind-blown sand! No, Frisia would never do for imperial purposes and for that reason the islands were left out of the Roman imperium. But would the World Union overlook the freedom-loving islets?
Men in a small boat heading to the tiny decorative islet in the center. They oared past the jetting water of the single fountain and, as he watched, unloaded a crate onto the island. They wore klompen for the marshy site. A flare was set up on a stand to give them light enough to work. At first Nilsson thought it was men come to inspect the heating system that kept the pond ice-free, but they didn’t have the look of the usual men sent out, and he grew suspicious.
He went back to his desk and called up the calendar of events for the International Court of Justice, and there it was: July 12, Erection of Holographic Memorial, TRUMPHANT UNION ENLIGHTENING THE WORLD, by the Citizens’ Committee for World Union at the Hague. He could not believe it, so he got out an old printout of the year’s calendar, and there was no mention of the thing.
Finally, he drew the curtain though the pond was now flooded with morning sun and reflected through his chamber windows. He went and sat down, not at his desk, but on one of the reproductions of the chairs he had destroyed in the petitioners’ Salon. He was still there, when his private secretary, Mrs. Wolfreda van Geroot, entered.
Nilsson rose wearily. “It’s all right, Wolfreda.” He smiled. “I suppose I worked so late I didn’t see much sense in returning home. We have that nasty Uranus icebreaker-supertanker explosion brief to get out, you know. Personally, I don’t care who did it. Let the insurance companies decide. They seem to know how to make money, regardless of disasters. Even if the world should end today, they’d capitalize on it somehow.”
Nilsson ran hands through hair that, unaccountably, was darkening and thinning at the same time. He shook his head, then started to pace back and forth. “No! No! We might as well face things here, in the cold hard light of a new day. Are you sure you can? Anyone can drop out at this point without retaliation, so if you want you needn’t hear me out.”
Mrs. van Geroot’s plump, matronly face grew even more sober and she sat back down, somehow giving the impression it was an expression of not only her philosophical support but the fact of her being ultra independent Friesian and not some sophisticated, city-bred mainlander Dutch, Walloon, or Fleming.
Nilsson went up to her and put his hands on her desk, facing her. “Before I act and do something I might regret, I need to know something. My wife is no use--she always plays the devil’s advocate. I need something more. I need--”
Mrs. van de Geroot waited.
Mrs. Geroot did not respond right away. She shifted her big feet, which would have been more comfortable in wooden clogs than the more stylish nurse-style brogans she had to wear for her job. Slowly, she wagged her head. “How do you know if you are right if you won’t see it through, Meinheer? If we must fight the sea for our homes and farms, then we must fight!”
Nilsson stared at the woman--so domestic and ordinary, yet so beautiful in all her plainness and simplicity. Of course! he thought. She is right. This movement is like the sea, the mighty ocean breaking in on the land everywhere. Like the sea it is unstoppable, beyond the power of man to push back with all his engineering genius. Yet, like the Frisians and Dutch, the sea of Chillingsworth’s megalomania can be pushed back, a polder at a time, until a whole land is reclaimed and restored to fertility.
He glanced toward the windows and the Court Pond where the new statue now stood resplendent in the morning light. Just as Dutch vision had led to Benelux and the Common Market in the 20th Century, it now stubbornly and cunningly forged ahead at the vanguard of world unionism in the 22nd.
The secretary nodded, and Nilsson went back in his office, and left his curtains drawn, permanently.
“You mean,” he said, turning back to them, “after all I’ve told you you’re still wanting to talk. No! We’ve lost critical momentum in just talking about the problem. We must act most decisively!”
The men suddenly burst out talking all at once in response, all disagreeing. “But you don’t know for sure it will happen as you say,” objected one. “Dr. Chillingsworth, even with his immense prestige and most ingenious thought-weapon, may not be able to pull it off. The United Nations, after two centuries in existence, isn’t about to lie down, whimper and expire! I simply don’t believe it, even if he has made some remarkable progress in political circles of late!”
“‘Espionage’? ‘The secret service’ A ‘Gang of Four’?” Nilsson cried, every atom of his fair-playing democratic being recoiling at the thought. Equally disgusted, Nilsson shouted them all out the door, as the secretary stood looking at him.
“Sir, I would never say this, but you ought to know something.”
“What, you too?” he snapped, turning on her. She squared her shoulders beneath the bulky hand-knit shawl and lifted her formidable jaw. “No, not me too. Just as I told you a while back, as long as I am a Friesian, it will never come to that, I can assure you. What I want you to know is that you’re doing the right thing. Tershelling my island is solidly behind you. I know because they’re writing all these letters to me. ” She held out a carefully tied packet.
Wolfreda was a rock in a storm-swept sea--a veritable Gilbraltar of of Dutch strength and dependability. He knew he could always count on her.
Unlike the Continental and worldly-minded Dutch, French, and German, his fellow, more insular-minded Norwegians, he found, were not so inclined to cooperate with what the world’s elite might think was best for humanity. There would always be some who had the courage and freedom-loving spirit to resist, since Norwegians had a long memory when it came to tyranny.
They could not forget how they lost their freedom in the 20th Century to a particularly bloody invader, Nazism. These--acquaintances in government and the law courts, as well as some students--joined his lobbying group.
From the first, he saw that students furnished the most firepower wherever the group brought pressure to bear on various world bodies. They demonstrated a zeal and ability for total commitment lacking in older lobbyists, however well-intentioned and sincere. It was to students then he principally turned to work for the destruction of Dr. Chillingsworth’s agenda.
They were instructed to communicate with him, using the old method of paper and pen--to save themselves being tracked by electronics. When he read the messages, he went into a closet, where there was nothing else but a desk, a pen and a ink pot.
That way he could tell if anything had been changed or altered by a single glance around the room. Here, with the curtainless, blinded window, he felt as secure as a man of the time might be from being monitored by any spy agency or government.
He had the support of the military and scientific establishments as well as the equally crucial political and diplomatic sectors. A motion by the world union-minded Netherlands put the very existence of the United Nations on the docket, and when the vote was taken it was unanimous that the U.N. be terminated in 2155 and Dr. Chillingsworth’s World Government Model form the new world state.
He had met the young man in a cocktail lounge espousing dangerous views for the time. And the girl? Well, a slip of paper with her name and address dropped out of his pocket when he reached for another item.
To him it was fortuitous--and he looked her up because of the possible university connection. Both had shown tremendous esprit in the work of the lobby. But now things had changed, fundamentally.
Something radically different was required. But what? That was why Nilsson had them meet, to discuss what they could possibly do to stop the juggernaut of world government since the lobby group was obviously not able to do it.
Nilsson cringed, knowing he had a job on his hand toning down the young firebrand so that he might last a while.
Yet, just as crushed and enraged as Lars by his homeland’s support of Dr. Chillingsworth, Nilsson said nothing and kept walking.
Then after a few minutes he stopped and turned to Larson and a red-haired, brilliant biomath research major, the young woman who would not answer to “Sonya” and only give the epithet--”Red Bladed” as her name.
“I’m not King Harald and this isn’t the Dark Ages with Viking longships and lightning raids on monasteries and castles,” he advised her. “People may think you silly for adopting such an archaic epithet.”
Hearing his disclaimer, "Red-Bladed" threw her magnificent mane back and faced him like a female Viking of the past.
The two “spotters,” being so young, were absolutely thrilled by his words as if they had waited all their young lives for this very mission. They were going underground! Their commander had just ordered it! Red Bladed was so overcome, in fact, she did a strange thing before Nilsson could stop her. She slashed her arm and held it up dripping. “Our ancestors were noble, brave, free Vikings! Why not do as they did? As long as my blood flows red, and there is one drop left, I shall not be unworthy of your trust in me!” she vowed.
Nilsson thought for a moment she had gone mad. The blood-letting was appalling and unnecessary, an act of fealty she might have imagined her savage forebears performed on sea-girt crags before their commanders. Yet there was such spirit in her eyes Nilsson had second thoughts. Despite his revulsion at the sight of blood, he decided he was not the one to break such a spirit and was touched to the quick of being though he strenuously cautioned her against further immolation. “I absolutely forbid such demonstrations, do you hear? You will need all your blood, all your strength, for the task ahead.”
It spread rapidly, and before the year had ended enrolled the bravest and most fiery youth not only in Norway but all around the world. The pair, of course, were to be among the first apprehended by secret service agents employed by Dr. Chillingsworth’s interim world government.
But, as their commander said, the movement they helped birth grew and, like its mortal enemy, could not be stopped.
And helping with each unpleasant shock of bad news while chastening him when rare bits of good news came his way, the thought stood by him: one polder at a time!
That much he had learned from the Dutch and brave, steadfast, simple hearts like dear, dear Wolfreda. It was enough to sustain him in many dark days to come, only he was left with one difficulty: how do you go underground? A man, after all, wasn’t born a mole. It was something he had to learn. Nilsson knew there was nothing in his university training that could help.
A little lobby group, political discussions, the “spotting,” were things any aroused patriot could do. But going underground? Spying internationally? Committing effective, will-coordinated acts of terrorism against a brutal central authority?
Deciding he wanted privacy on this sensitive subject, he was left with a single old book listed “Removed,” but which was still on the shelves somewhere or in the Discards bin waiting to be shredded and pulped. That one out-of -date, out-of-circulation book had been judged no security risk--just what he was wanting! Despite all the cases of international terrorism constantly coming to his desk, the Court seemed just as removed from reality as he was regarding the matter, perhaps because it dealt with the results, not how to cause them.
But the title seemed to be right, even though rather long.
He set aside some time and went looking for the book, and after searching high and low in the Discards section, he found it hiding beneath the collected works of Alexander Humboldt.
Sweating from the job of excavating it, he had blown off the dust, turned the cover and found out it was really old--a 20th Century production!
Frowning, he watched her read and chuckle, then burst into hysterics--causing her to drop the book on the table she was so helpless. Moisture in her eyes she turned to him. “Darling, where did you get this? It can’t be serious, can it? I haven’t read anything so funny in my life.”
Nilsson, stung, rose and swept the book off the table and held it behind him. “I don’t see anything so amusing about it!”
“You don’t? Haven’t you read the thing?”
Nilsson gave her a peck on the cheek. “Must be going. No, as a matter of fact, I haven’t. I was going to. Someone recommended it to me--thought I needed a laugh.”
“I’ll be late!” he said briskly and pulled away.
She stood, still in chemise, looking after him. Beyond, in the kitchen, the cook stood looking too, fragrant steam rising from a plate of her famous rolls fresh out of the oven for the honorable judge.
Nilsson heard Wolfreda at the door but ignored her and went to the computer library listing on his console. A few minutes later he was holding Foxe’s book. An hour later he was still reading, with Wolfreda going crazy, he knew, wondering what had happened to him. Hours latter he walked unsteadily through the doors and found Wolfreda gazing at him with alarmed eyes.
“I was wondering if you were ill, so I called your wife. She’s coming. I’m sorry, but I was so concerned when you wouldn’t come out all day.”
Nilsson brushed her aside with a gesture. “Never mind. I was just reading a good book. Try it sometime.” He dropped it on her desk as he went out. Harry Wicklow’s book, however, was firmly gripped in his hand. Strolling through the elegant room where forty heads had rolled bloodily, then down to the Pond, he went and stood by the edge. In his peculiar state of mind, he saw not clear water but blood, not stately-drifting swans but a thousand mutilations, axings, beheadings, quarterings, burnings, and worse tortures when his wife came slowly toward him. He was in a absolute daze, so that when she tugged his sleeve he didn’t know her at first when their eyes met.
Gradually, Nilsson’s eyes cleared of the unspeakable miseries that human beings can and do inflict on other human beings, all for the sake of religion. He knew very well that old Harry Wicklow was right: they would be doing the same thing to him and his people in the name of politics, for the sake of a world state. The gentle tugging brought him closer to Ditti.
But something balked. At that moment she had never looked more beautiful, more the soft, gentle, elfin creature he had courted in his university days before the wife and mother aspects took hold. He was strongly tempted.
He sensed it wasn’t all primitive peasant stoicism in her either, but a touch of--faith--faith? He was 22nd Century Man, faith did not enter in to public affairs. He caught a glimpse of Chillingsworth’s holographic sculpture on the Pond island. TRIUMPHANT UNION ENLIGHTENING THE WORLD. The moment definitely passed.
Nilsson then looked at her closely--the vision of loveliness began to show crowsfeet around the eyes and matronly padding on the figure. He slowly shook his head. He couldn’t find it in himself to go her route. “I had to read a book for research purposes, that’s all. Can’t you silly women let a man do his work?” He strode off, Wicklow clenched in his hand as she watched him go.
He strode to the windows and wrenched aside the curtains, forcing himself to look at what he most feared and hated. Then he went back to his office and turned his wife’s photo face down. When that was done, he sat and devoured Wicklow in one sitting--determined to make Chillingsworth’s the forty-first head to roll the course.
Then report of an “Ibsen Revival Army” newly hatched out in Norway came to him. Norway was not a particularly important country in his estimation, but he acted promptly and decisively. All suspected members were rounded up, interrogated for any useful information, then terminated in secluded sites.
At the same time he had Gunnar Utsond’s sculpture outside the Merchant Marine Academy replaced with a 300 ft. high holographic diorama, “Approach of the World Union.” It depicted a Vigelandish champion on horseback driving a group of lizard-like creatures before him.
The printout of Thought Deviant Lars Larson was particularly interesting to Chillingsworth. Larson had been a spotter, recruiter, and then cell organizer of a small but rapidly spreading organization, and a particularly effective one. Thanks to him a hundred cells had got going in Norwegian schools, which in turn spawned a thousand others in the general society in short order.
It was due to his success that the secret service dealt carefully with him, extracting every bit of information they could while he was still breathing.
“No, sir, he had been pre-programmed not to reveal that, even on pain of termination.”
“I see. And I suppose the other TD, that Valkyrie with the strange name, was programmed in the same manner.”
“Yes, you are quite right.”
Dr. Chillingsworth signed for the man to go, then sat at his desk in his London offices, pondering the matter.
It must have been a particularly sharp thorn in his flesh, for he gave it a full hour of his time--time he needed to finish putting his World Government Model before several committees of delegates waiting for his instructions.
At last he was ready. He gave the call sign for the committees to appear on his desk screen. “I am sorry but I was detained by unforeseen circumstances, which required my immediate attention. Now that I am free to speak with you, I first wish to greet you all in the name and spirit of world citizenship...” The moment the committee work was completed, Dr. Chillingsworth got up and went to the windows, to look out on Herne Hill Park.
Badly-decayed Edwardian semi-detached housing had all been cleared away and a park created, which was a much needed breathing space for the ever growing population.
He saw the nannies of the more affluent households in the area pushing the traditional prams with their employers’ infants, and then he turned sharply from the window and got back to work.--for the view had given him a valuable insight into the solution of his problem.
It was a warning Dr. Chillingsworth took seriously. Even with extra precautions, he lost dozens of bodyguards in the succeeding weeks. It became more difficult to get volunteers. If ordered to the post, the men too often collapsed with nervous breakdowns, so he had to have volunteers.
Finally, he was virtually confined to his offices and home, and dared not go about London or any other city without elaborate security precautions that could fail at any one point because they were so temporary. Angered by the restraint on his physical movements, Dr. Chillingsworth used an unclassified channel to send out a challenge to his adversary.
“The inconvenience you are presently causing the formation of the world government is acknowledged, but it is a slight matter, since the project is going forward according to the timetable. If you continue to hamper my movements, I will exact a severe penalty.”
The sender, as it turned out, was mistaken, for by then implementation of the Model for World Government had created the first of his “re-education camps” for thought-deviants. Millions were rounded up. The sweep was so successful that over 90 percent of the world-wide network of terrorist cells connected with the Ibsen Revival Army was wiped out. Dr. Chillingsworth had a special party for those who had taken chief roles in the purge. He had not yet appeared at Albert Hall when he met a roadblock in front of his vintage limousine, a Rolls Royce Phantom from his collection of antique cars.
“What do you mean?”
“A crude explosive device has been identified as the probable cause of the building’s collapse. We’re presently trying to get in to see if there are any survivors. We believe terrorists--”
Later, when Dr. Chillingsworth returned to his office, he was met by a glowing message on his personal monitor. “Congratulations! You have dealt us a severe but not a terminal blow, and in turn we’ve taken out your Albert Hall venue. Wherever you go, know that we will be there waiting for you. And whoever supports you will have to fight for his very life from now on and will too busy saving his own neck to defend yours!”
Dr. Chillingsworth smiled in return, though not so grimly. “I suppose it can, for you seemed to have learned from all your mistakes in the past. But we will continue to reduce its effectiveness. And identifying you will undoubtedly damage morale to some extent.”
Nilsson shook his head. “You’re mistaken. The cells don’t even know me. This movement is born of free men and women and quite a few boys and girls who require nobody but their own local leaders to perform their tasks. Of course, they all receive some information in order to coordinate the network’s efforts toward various chosen objectives. Naturally, you must know this since you have found me out.”
“No, thank you. It’s not necessary. Where do I report? Or are your thugs coming for me here.”
“Oh, you can stay where you are. But you are a dead man. You cannot do anything without our knowing. If we arrested you, it would be an embarrassment for us, since you are too well-known.”
Dr. Chillingsworth chuckled. “Arrest a World Court judge? What a foolish proposal! I wouldn’t dream of committing such an indelicate act. Everyone would be asking questions--asking them in public places too. No, you can stay right where you are and watch your movement die right before your eyes, while you are powerless to do anything!”
Nilssons’ eyes narrowed. “Powerless, you say? You eliminated a considerable portion of my main force of expendables. They can and will be replaced. Meanwhile, my elite tiger teams have gained access to all your intelligence networks. We are able to track every move of yours and launch a counter-offensive before you strike.”
Nilsson continued. “You assumed we couldn’t access your secret passwords. But I have every single one of them and they’ve been distributed to all the units. Would you also like a printout?”
Dr. Chillingsworth gritted his teeth, then his eyes shut as if he were in intense pain. When he opened them, his quarry was gone from the screen. Losing his top secret passwords, Dr. Chillingsworth’s timetable was severely compromised. He had to postpone many important ceremonies and highest level diplomatic and political consultations. It happened that during this difficult time his path crossed with that of Ansgar Nilsson, who because of his work moved in the same high circles. Nilsson would always smile and Dr. Chillingsworth would act as if he hadn’t seen him. When it was necessary for them to speak to each other at certain international functions, Dr. Chillingsworth always used an aide, complaining of a sore throat condition. Nilsson, not so easy with excuses, laughed openly at Dr. Chillingsworth.
It was so obvious that Dr. Chillingsworth had to call him up on screen about it. “How dare you insult me in public, Nils! I can’t avoid you, but you might show some decency as a gentleman, a fellow Etonian, even if you are a terrorist!”
Dr. Chillingsworth looked like he had swallowed a snake. “We’ll see how long you are in any condition to find humor in your situation!”
The judge came in his office one day and found an anonymous message on his monitor: “I hope that taught you a lesson, Henrik. We can play fifth column as well as you. As for your miserable life, you can keep your head for the time being.” “Well, don’t bet on keeping yours,” muttered Nilsson, consciously using an American idiom.
Yet there was another message--a request from the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Did he wish to join? His appointment already had been ratified by the king. Nilsson, his color coming back, joined immediately.