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The extraordinary story of "Paul," who for thirty days was Dictator of the World. (note not about WWI or WWII)
I am more accustomed to the handling of steel ingots and the fabrication of ships than to building with words. But, if I cannot write history as history is written, perhaps I can write it the way it is lived, and that must suffice.
This account of certain events must have a title, I am told. I have used, as you see: "Holocaust." Inadequate!—but what word can tell even faintly of that reign of terror that engulfed the world, of those terrible thirty days in America when dread and horror gripped the nation and the red menace, like a wall of fire, swept downward from the north? And, at last—the end!
It was given to me to know something of that conflict and of its ending and of the man who, in that last day, took command of Earth's events and gave battle to Mars, the God of War himself. It was against the background of war that he stood out; I must tell it in that way; and perhaps my own experience will be of interest. Yet it is of the man I would write more than the war—the most hated man in the whole world—that strange character, Paul Stravoinski.
You do not even recognize the name. But, if I were to say instead the one word, "Paul"—ah, now I can see some of you start abruptly in sudden, wide-eyed attention, while the breath catches in your throats and the memory of a strange dread clutches your hearts.
'Straki,' we called him at college. He was never "Paul," except to me alone; there was never the easy familiarity between him and the crowd at large, whose members were "Bill" and "Dick" and other nicknames unprintable.
But "Straki" he accepted. "Bien, mon cher ami," he told me—he was as apt to drop into French as Russian or any of a dozen other languages—"a name—what is it? A label by which we distinguish one package of goods from a thousand others just like it! I am unlike: for me one name is as good as another. It is what is here that counts,"—he tapped his broad forehead that rose high to the tangle of black hair—"and here,"—and this time he placed one hand above his heart.
"It is for what I give to the world of my head and my heart that I must be remembered. And, if I give nothing—then the name, it is less than nothing."