By Arthur C. Clarke
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Here Washington must have stood, two centuries ago, watching the Potomac wind its way to the sea, thinking of past wars and future problems. And here Martin Steelman, thirty-eighth President of the United States, might have stood a few months hence, had the fates ruled otherwise. Death and the Senator 33 He could not pretend that he had no regrets, but they were very few. Some men could achieve both power and happiness, but that gift was not for him. Sooner or later, his ambition would have consumed him.
It was so hard to imagine a world without electricity, without radio, without any power save that of muscle, wind or water. A world where nothing moved faster than a running horse, and most men died within a few miles of the place where they were born. The heat, the walking, and the incessant questions proved more tiring than Steelman had expected. When they had reached the Music Room, he decided to rest. There were some attractive benches out on the porch, where he could sit in the fresh air and feast his eyes upon the green grass of the lawn.
I also have other, personal reasons, and there’s no chance that I will change my mind. Please don’t think me rude or ungrateful, but I don’t wish to discuss the matter any further. ” He broke the circuit; and as the image of the two astonished scientists faded, peace came flooding back into his soul. Imperceptibly, spring merged into summer. The eagerly awaited Bicentenary celebrations came and went; for the first time in years, he was able to enjoy Independence Day as a private citizen. Now he could sit back and watch the others perform — or he could ignore them, if he wished.