Oliver Spence/Chapter 12
WORK, AND LOVE, AND PARADISE.
It is twenty years after the demolition of the Austral Bank by the Revolutionists, under the leadership of Oliver Spence.
The sun is shining brightly through the trees, the sky is as beautiful in its heavenly blue as only an Australian sky can be, the birds, filled with the joy of living, are twittering merrily.
Two well-dressed men are strolling leisurely along, chatting together in a friendly manner. The elder of the two is probably about forty-four years of age, the other some ten years younger.
"I suppose, Jack, that your pension will soon be due," says the younger man.
"Not for another year yet, Tom," says the other. "I am not forty-five yet, and the pension is not due until I reach that age."
"Times were very different when we were young, Jack. No labour day of four hours and a retirement pension at forty-five then. Nothing but uncertainty of employment, low wages, long hours, and the possibility of a pauper's grave stared us in the face."
"You may well say that, Ton. I am older than you, and I have seen more, but I never saw a workman going to his work dressed as we are, nor taking his time about it, as we are. And the misery that existed among the workers was appalling. It is marvelous how they could have endured it so long. I would willingly have gone through two revolutions to abolish such an iniquitous tyranny as that of the usurious plutocracy which then held sway. Under the old regime no man could be certain that his life would not terminate amidst scenes of abject pauperism or desperate criminality. Now we are all certain of a suitable occupation and an honorable career. There is work for all, and overwork and slavery for none."
"What do you think of the new law, giving every man and woman in the country a vote?"
"I quite approve of it. At the same time, although many find fault with the Revolutionists for seizing political power, and holding it without consulting the majority, I think they did right. The majority at that time had not sufficient courage to take up arms against any government, Revolutionary or otherwise, but they had been so deluded by the press, the politicians, and the rest of those who were "in the swim," that they would cert&inly have voted against the Revolutionists had they been given the power."
"They have changed now, Jack."
"Yes, for not only have the government teachers of economics been abroad, but people have now had several years convincing experience of the happiness that is possible in a land where the usurer, the land-monopolist, and the profit-monger are things of the past. I am glad that Oliver and Mary were re-elected with such almost unanimity."
"Yes, Jack, they are wise, good, and courageous rulers. Of course, they have been malignantly slandered, and attempts have been made to assassinate them, but that must always be expected by any public man who honestly tries to do good and to act justly, particularly if he directs his efforts against the immoral cupidity and tyranny of rich men. Well I must leave you now, Jack; here's my shop."
With these words, the younger man disappeared within the doors of one of the Government boot factories, while his comrade, a furniture worker, proceeded on his way.
We will leave him, and freely using the privilege of authors and their readers, respectfully listen to the conversation of the noble-looking couple who are now approaching. The man is apparently about fifty years of age, his wife but a few years younger. They are walking arm-in-arm and cling together with an evident undisguised love for each other, which, though common enough among married people in these times, was seldom observed in the years of moral night which preceded the Revolution.
"I could die happy now, my sweet Mary," said the man, "my mission is accomplished. The Australian people are not only free, but happy, and the happiness which follows freedom from care is a glorious boon."
"Do not talk of dying, my own dear Oliver," answered his wife, "we have many more years to live, and much good to do, even yet. There are people called Anarchists, who object to the payment of taxes and desire to do as they please, free from all governmental interference. They may make trouble yet."
"I think not, my dear. Australia is large enough to enable me to help the Anarchists to form a settlement somewhere in the interior, where they may live according to their ideas and without government, if they can. Let us talk no more of politics, let us rather talk of love, which transforms even the deformed, but makes of the beautiful the angelic. My darling you are my angel, and I love and adore you with the same fervor as in my youth."
"My own dear faithful Oliver," said Mary, as her eyes brightened and her face flushed with the fervour of her love for her husband. "You darling," she said, as she passionately kissed his lips. "Let us go home."
But the married lovers did not go home. They sought a little rustic seat, and there the rulers of a great empire sat pouring out to each other vows and protestations of eternal unchanging love. The occasional passers-by turned away their heads with a pleased smile and even the birds on the trees seemed to sing with greater joy, but the lovers heeded them not.
Hours passed away, and the sky became stormy, red, and flaming, as the sun sunk down like a dying Revolutionist. amidst the blood-tinged clouds, but the lovers beheld it with serenity and confidence, for they knew that to-morrow it would rise upon a land of peace and plenty, where the insults of the rich and the whines of the slave were alike unheard; and where just laws, wise government, and an equitable social system were making an earthly Paradise of what had been a veritable Inferno,