The rough notes from which this narrative has been constructed were given to me by the man who tells the story. For obvious reasons I have altered the names of the principals, and I hereby pass on the assurance which I have received, that the originals of such as are left alive can be found if their discovery be thought desirable. This alteration of names, the piecing together of somewhat disconnected and sometimes nearly indecipherable memoranda, and the reduction of the mass to consecutive form, are all that has been required of me or would have been permitted to me. The expedition to Labrador mentioned by the narrator has not returned, nor has it ever been definitely traced. He does not undertake to prove that it ever set out. But he avers that all which is hereafter set down is truly told, and he leaves it to mankind to accept the warning which it has fallen to him to convey, or await the proof of its sincerity which he believes the end of the century will produce. (Often quoted as being the first reference to the idea of an atomic bomb.)
"What difference does that make?" the girl said with a sigh. "What is the end of it all--the meaning of it all? Their happiness! Cui Bono?"
We walked on in silence, while I turned over in my mind what she had said. I could come to no conclusion upon it save that my dislike for her enigmatic aberrations was becoming more intense as my liking for the girl herself increased. To change the current of her thoughts and my own, I asked her abruptly:
"Are you a member of the Cui Bono Society?"
"I! Oh, no. Women are not allowed to join--for the present."
"I am delighted to hear it," I said heartily, "and I hope the rule will continue in force."
She looked at me in surprise. "Why should you mind? You are joining yourself."
"That is different. I don't approve of ladies mixing themselves up in these curious and perhaps questionable societies."
My remark amused her. Her eyes sparkled with simple fun. The change in her manner was very agreeable
Very much a product of its Late Victorian era. A mad, Svengali-esque genius forms a secret society of bored and disaffected wealthy to provide him with the means to accomplish his most cherished ambition: Blowing up the Earth.
And he can do it, too, having discovered a sort of catalyst which releases the atomic energy contained in all matter. Which makes this one of the earliest, if not the earliest, fictional appearance of an atomic bomb, fully 17 years before Wells' "The Last War".
Throw in mind control, murder-by-telepathy, a doomed love affair and some oddball melodrama, and you have a fairly entertaining story.