The story takes place in 400 A.D. where the Emperor Yuan rules near the Great Wall of China. When a servant tells Yuan that a man has invented a “flying machine,” he goes to see it for himself. Sure enough, from atop a hill, the emperor and servant observe a man flying in a machine made of paper and bamboo. Yuan asks the flier to come down and speak with him. He then orders that the machine be destroyed and the flier executed. Yuan explains that it is not necessarily the flier who he fears but another man that will have evil in his heart and will drop huge stones on the Great Wall. The emperor concludes by saying “What is the life of one man against those of a million others. I must take solace from that thought.”
Deep story. Thought provoking. Good tale. Not your average Bradbury yarn.