The Four Million
An Unfinished Story
We no longer groan and heap ashes upon our heads when the flames of Tophet are
mentioned. For, even the preachers have begun to tell us that God is radium, or ether or
some scientific compound, and that the worst we wicked ones may expect is a chemical
reaction. This is a pleasing hypothesis; but there lingers yet some of the old, goodly terror
There are but two subjects upon which one may discourse with a free imagination, and
without the possibility of being controverted. You may talk of your dreams; and you may
tell what you heard a parrot say. Both Morpheus and the bird are incompetent witnesses;
and your listener dare not attack your recital. The baseless fabric of a vision, then, shall
furnish my theme—chosen with apologies and regrets instead of the more limited field of
pretty Polly's small talk.
I had a dream that was so far removed from the higher criticism that it had to do with the
ancient, respectable, and lamented bar-of-judgment theory.
Gabriel had played his trump; and those of us who could not follow suit were arraigned
for examination. I noticed at one side a gathering of professional bondsmen in solemn
black and collars that buttoned behind; but it seemed there was some trouble about their
real estate titles; and they did not appear to be getting any of us out.
A fly cop—an angel policeman—flew over to me and took me by the left wing. Near at
hand was a group of very prosperous-looking spirits arraigned for judgment.
"Do you belong with that bunch?" the policeman asked.
"Who are they?" was my answer.
"Why," said he, "they are—"
But this irrelevant stuff is taking up space that the story should occupy.
Dulcie worked in a department store. She sold Hamburg edging, or stuffed peppers, or
automobiles, or other little trinkets such as they keep in department stores. Of what she
earned, Dulcie received six dollars per week. The remainder was credited to her and
debited to somebody else's account in the ledger kept by G–––– Oh, primal energy, you
say, Reverend Doctor—Well then, in the Ledger of Primal Energy.
During her first year in the store, Dulcie was paid five dollars per week. It would be
instructive to know how she lived on that amount. Don't care? Very well; probably you
are interested in larger amounts. Six dollars is a larger amount. I will tell you how she
lived on six dollars per week.