“Quentin Smith Lakeman, the Government regrets your personal feelings and sympathizes with your relatives, but finds it necessary to condemn you at once to euthanasia.”
As the mechanical voice that came from the orifice of the speaker ceased, Quentin Smith Lakeman turned pale and an icy pang shot through him. Through the dazzling lights that danced in his brain, he could see his three companions standing there gasping as a result of the sudden, crushing sentence.
He had expected some kind of a reward for his year of hard work, danger, and hardship spent in the service of the Government. Not that he expected machinery to have any gratitude; but above all, the machine is logical and just, and there were rules for rewarding special effort such as his.
“Democratia must be promptly and completely destroyed,” the metallic voice of the speaker continued. “From your report of your investigations in that country, it is clear that its people will never consent to standardize themselves, and that they therefore constitute a menace to our standardized World Government.”
Quentin—to call him by his “intimate” name, for in the twentysixth century everyone had an intimate name, a family name, and a public name—was flung down and crushed again by the announcement of the fate of that gallant country in which he had just spent a year. It seemed that his heart would stop beating then and there, for Democratia held Martha, who in that one short year had become more precious than all else in the world. He looked beside him at