Part 3 out of 3
wooed by one Gy, rejects her, and puts an end to her
persecution by wedding another. The same course is open to
"No; for I cannot wed another Gy without equally injuring the
community, and exposing it to the chance of rearing carnivorous
"That is true. All I can say, and I say it with the tenderness
due to a Tish, and the respect due to a guest, is frankly this-
if you yield, you will become a cinder. I must leave it to you
to take the best way you can to defend yourself. Perhaps you
had better tell Zee that she is ugly. That assurance on the
lips of him she woos generally suffices to chill the most
ardent Gy. Here we are at my country-house."
I confess that my conversation with Aph-Lin, and the extreme
coolness with which he stated his inability to control the
dangerous caprice of his daughter, and treated the idea of the
reduction into a cinder to which her amorous flame might expose
my too seductive person, took away the pleasure I should
otherwise have had in the contemplation of my host's
country-seat, and the astonishing perfection of the machinery
by which his farming operations were conducted. The house
differed in appearance from the massive and sombre building
which Aph-Lin inhabited in the city, and which seemed akin to
the rocks out of which the city itself had been hewn into
shape. The walls of the country-seat were composed by trees
placed a few feet apart from each other, the interstices being
filled in with the transparent metallic substance which serves
the purpose of glass among the Ana. These trees were all in
flower, and the effect was very pleasing, if not in the best
taste. We were received at the porch by life-like automata,
who conducted us into a chamber, the like to which I never saw
before, but have often on summer days dreamily imagined. It
was a bower- half room, half garden. The walls were one mass
of climbing flowers. The open spaces, which we call windows,
and in which, here, the metallic surfaces were slided back,
commanded various views; some, of the wide landscape with its
lakes and rocks; some, of small limited expanses answering to
our conservatories, filled with tiers of flowers. Along the
sides of the room were flower-beds, interspersed with cushions
for repose. In the centre of the floor was a cistern and a
fountain of that liquid light which I have presumed to be
naphtha. It was luminous and of a roseate hue; it sufficed
without lamps to light up the room with a subdued radiance.
All around the fountain was carpeted with a soft deep lichen,
not green (I have never seen that colour in the vegetation of
116this country), but a quiet brown, on which the eye reposes with
the same sense of relief as that with which in the upper world
it reposes on green. In the outlets upon flowers (which I have
compared to our conservatories) there were singing birds
innumerable, which, while we remained in the room, sang in
those harmonies of tune to which they are, in these parts, so
wonderfully trained. The roof was open. The whole scene had
charms for every sense- music form the birds, fragrance from
the flowers, and varied beauty to the eye at every aspect.
About all was a voluptuous repose. What a place, methought,
for a honeymoon, if a Gy bride were a little less formidably
armed not only with the rights of woman, but with the powers of
man! But when one thinks of a Gy, so learned, so tall, so
stately, so much above the standard of the creature we call
woman as was Zee, no! even if I had felt no fear of being
reduced to a cinder, it is not of her I should have dreamed in
that bower so constructed for dreams of poetic love.
The automata reappeared, serving one of those delicious liquids
which form the innocent wines of the Vril-ya.
"Truly," said I, "this is a charming residence, and I can
scarcely conceive why you do not settle yourself here instead
of amid the gloomier abodes of the city."
"As responsible to the community for the administration of
light, I am compelled to reside chiefly in the city, and can
only come hither for short intervals."
"But since I understand from you that no honours are attached to
your office, and it involves some trouble, why do you accept
"Each of us obeys without question the command of the Tur. He
said, 'Be it requested that Aph-Lin shall be the Commissioner
of Light,' so I had no choice; but having held the office now
for a long time, the cares, which were at first unwelcome, have
become, if not pleasing, at least endurable. We are all formed
by custom- even the difference of our race from the savage is
but the transmitted continuance of custom, which becomes,
117through hereditary descent, part and parcel of our nature. You
see there are Ana who even reconcile themselves to the
responsibilities of chief magistrate, but no one would do so if
his duties had not been rendered so light, or if there were any
questions as to compliance with his requests."
"Not even if you thought the requests unwise or unjust?"
"We do not allow ourselves to think so, and, indeed, everything
goes on as if each and all governed themselves according to
"When the chief magistrate dies or retires, how do you provide
for his successor?"
"The An who has discharged the duties of chief magistrate for
many years is the best person to choose one by whom those
duties may be understood, and he generally names his
"His son, perhaps?"
"Seldom that; for it is not an office any one desires or seeks,
and a father naturally hesitates to constrain his son. But if
the Tur himself decline to make a choice, for fear it might be
supposed that he owed some grudge to the person on whom his
choice would settle, then there are three of the College of
Sages who draw lots among themselves which shall have the power
to elect the chief. We consider that the judgment of one An of
ordinary capacity is better than the judgment of three or more,
however wise they may be; for among three there would probably
be disputes, and where there are disputes, passion clouds
judgment. The worst choice made by one who has no motive in
choosing wrong, is better than the best choice made by many who
have many motives for not choosing right."
"You reverse in your policy the maxims adopted in my country."
"Are you all, in your country, satisfied with your governors?"
"All! Certainly not; the governors that most please some are
sure to be those most displeasing to others."
"Then our system is better than yours."
"For you it may be; but according to our system a Tish could
not be reduced to a cinder if a female compelled him to marry
her; and as a Tish I sigh to return to my native world."
"Take courage, my dear little guest; Zee can't compel you to
marry her. She can only entice you to do so. Don't be
enticed. Come and look round my domain."
We went forth into a close, bordered with sheds; for though the
Ana keep no stock for food, there are some animals which they
rear for milking and others for shearing. The former have no
resemblance to our cows, nor the latter to our sheep, nor do I
believe such species exist amongst them. They use the milk of
three varieties of animal: one resembles the antelope, but is
much larger, being as tall as a camel; the other two are
smaller, and, though differing somewhat from each other,
resemble no creature I ever saw on earth. They are very sleek
and of rounded proportions; their colour that of the dappled
deer, with very mild countenances and beautiful dark eyes. The
milk of these three creatures differs in richness and taste.
It is usually diluted with water, and flavoured with the juice
of a peculiar and perfumed fruit, and in itself is very
nutritious and palatable. The animal whose fleece serves them
for clothing and many other purposes, is more like the Italian
she-goat than any other creature, but is considerably larger,
has no horns, and is free from the displeasing odour of our
goats. Its fleece is not thick, but very long and fine; it
varies in colour, but is never white, more generally of a
slate-like or lavender hue. For clothing it is usually worn
dyed to suit the taste of the wearer. These animals were
exceedingly tame, and were treated with extraordinary care and
affection by the children (chiefly female) who tended them.
We then went through vast storehouses filled with grains and
fruits. I may here observe that the main staple of food among
these people consists- firstly, of a kind of corn much larger
119in ear than our wheat, and which by culture is perpetually
being brought into new varieties of flavour; and, secondly, of
a fruit of about the size of a small orange, which, when
gathered, is hard and bitter. It is stowed away for many
months in their warehouses, and then becomes succulent and
tender. Its juice, which is of dark-red colour, enters into
most of their sauces. They have many kinds of fruit of the
nature of the olive, from which delicious oils are extracted.
They have a plant somewhat resembling the sugar-cane, but its
juices are less sweet and of a delicate perfume. They have no
bees nor honey-making insects, but they make much use of a
sweet gum that oozes from a coniferous plant, not unlike the
araucaria. Their soil teems also with esculent roots and
vegetables, which it is the aim of their culture to improve and
vary to the utmost. And I never remember any meal among this
people, however it might be confined to the family household,
in which some delicate novelty in such articles of food was not
introduced. In fine, as I before observed, their cookery is
exquisite, so diversified and nutritious that one does not miss
animal food; and their own physical forms suffice to show that
with them, at least, meat is not required for superior
production of muscular fibre. They have no grapes- the drinks
extracted from their fruits are innocent and refreshing. Their
staple beverage, however, is water, in the choice of which they
are very fastidious, distinguishing at once the slightest
"My younger son takes great pleasure in augmenting our
produce," said Aph-Lin as we passed through the storehouses,
"and therefore will inherit these lands, which constitute the
chief part of my wealth. To my elder son such inheritance
would be a great trouble and affliction."
"Are there many sons among you who think the inheritance of
vast wealth would be a great trouble and affliction?"
"Certainly; there are indeed very few of the Vril-ya who do not
120consider that a fortune much above the average is a heavy
burden. We are rather a lazy people after the age of
childhood, and do not like undergoing more cares than we can
help, and great wealth does give its owner many cares. For
instance, it marks us out for public offices, which none of us
like and none of us can refuse. It necessitates our taking a
continued interest in the affairs of any of our poorer
countrymen, so that we may anticipate their wants and see that
none fall into poverty. There is an old proverb amongst us
which says, 'The poor man's need is the rich man's shame---'"
"Pardon me, if I interrupt you for a moment. You allow that
some, even of the Vril-ya, know want, and need relief."
"If by want you mean the destitution that prevails in a
Koom-Posh, THAT is impossible with us, unless an An has, by
some extraordinary process, got rid of all his means, cannot or
will not emigrate, and has either tired out the affectionate
aid of this relations or personal friends, or refuses to accept
"Well, then, does he not supply the place of an infant or
automaton, and become a labourer- a servant?"
"No; then we regard him as an unfortunate person of unsound
reason, and place him, at the expense of the State, in a public
building, where every comfort and every luxury that can
mitigate his affliction are lavished upon him. But an An does
not like to be considered out of his mind, and therefore such
cases occur so seldom that the public building I speak of is
now a deserted ruin, and the last inmate of it was an An whom I
recollect to have seen in my childhood. He did not seem
conscious of loss of reason, and wrote glaubs (poetry). When I
spoke of wants, I meant such wants as an An with desires larger
than his means sometimes entertains- for expensive
singing-birds, or bigger houses, or country-gardens; and the
obvious way to satisfy such wants is to buy of him something
that he sells. Hence Ana like myself, who are very rich, are
121obliged to buy a great many things they do not require, and
live on a very large scale where they might prefer to live on a
small one. For instance, the great size of my house in the
town is a source of much trouble to my wife, and even to
myself; but I am compelled to have it thus incommodiously
large, because, as the richest An of the community, I am
appointed to entertain the strangers from the other communities
when they visit us, which they do in great crowds twice-a-year,
when certain periodical entertainments are held, and when
relations scattered throughout all the realms of the Vril-ya
joyfully reunite for a time. This hospitality, on a scale so
extensive, is not to my taste, and therefore I should have been
happier had I been less rich. But we must all bear the lot
assigned to us in this short passage through time that we call
life. After all, what are a hundred years, more or less, to
the ages through which we must pass hereafter? Luckily, I have
one son who likes great wealth. It is a rare exception to the
general rule, and I own I cannot myself understand it."
After this conversation I sought to return to the subject which
continued to weigh on my heart- viz., the chances of escape
from Zee. But my host politely declined to renew that topic,
and summoned our air-boat. On our way back we were met by Zee,
who, having found us gone, on her return from the College of
Sages, had unfurled her wings and flown in search of us.
Her grand, but to me unalluring, countenance brightened as she
beheld me, and, poising herself beside the boat on her large
outspread plumes, she said reproachfully to Aph-Lin- "Oh,
father, was it right in you to hazard the life of your guest in
a vehicle to which he is so unaccustomed? He might, by an
incautious movement, fall over the side; and alas; he is not
like us, he has no wings. It were death to him to fall. Dear
one!" (she added, accosting my shrinking self in a softer
voice), "have you no thought of me, that you should thus hazard
122a life which has become almost a part of mine? Never again be
thus rash, unless I am thy companion. What terror thou hast
stricken into me!"
I glanced furtively at Aph-Lin, expecting, at least, that he
would indignantly reprove his daughter for expressions of
anxiety and affection, which, under all the circumstances,
would, in the world above ground, be considered immodest in the
lips of a young female, addressed to a male not affianced to
her, even if of the same rank as herself.
But so confirmed are the rights of females in that region, and
so absolutely foremost among those rights do females claim the
privilege of courtship, that Aph-Lin would no more have thought
of reproving his virgin daughter than he would have thought of
disobeying the orders of the Tur. In that country, custom, as
he implied, is all in all.
He answered mildly, "Zee, the Tish is in no danger and it is my
belief the he can take very good care of himself."
"I would rather that he let me charge myself with his care.
Oh, heart of my heart, it was in the thought of thy danger that
I first felt how much I loved thee!"
Never did man feel in such a false position as I did. These
words were spoken loud in the hearing of Zee's father- in the
hearing of the child who steered. I blushed with shame for
them, and for her, and could not help replying angrily: "Zee,
either you mock me, which, as your father's guest, misbecomes
you, or the words you utter are improper for a maiden Gy to
address even to an An of her own race, if he has not wooed her
with the consent of her parents. How much more improper to
address them to a Tish, who has never presumed to solicit your
affections, and who can never regard you with other sentiments
than those of reverence and awe!"
Aph-Lin made me a covert sing of approbation, but said nothing.
123"Be not so cruel!" exclaimed Zee, still in sonorous accents.
"Can love command itself where it is truly felt? Do you suppose
that a maiden Gy will conceal a sentiment that it elevates her
to feel? What a country you must have come from!"
Here Aph-Lin gently interposed, saying, "Among the Tish-a the
rights of your sex do not appear to be established, and at all
events my guest may converse with you more freely if unchecked
by the presence of others."
To this remark Zee made no reply, but, darting on me a tender
reproachful glance, agitated her wings and fled homeward.
"I had counted, at least, on some aid from my host," I said
bitterly, "in the perils to which his own daughter exposes me."
"I gave you the best aid I could. To contradict a Gy in her
love affairs is to confirm her purpose. She allows no counsel
to come between her and her affections."
On alighting from the air-boat, a child accosted Aph-Lin in the
hall with a request that he would be present at the funeral
obsequies of a relation who had recently departed from that
Now, I had never seen a burial-place or cemetery amongst this
people, and, glad to seize even so melancholy an occasion to
defer an encounter with Zee, I asked Aph-Lin if I might be
permitted to witness with him the interment of his relation;
unless, indeed, it were regarded as one of those sacred
ceremonies to which a stranger to their race might not be
"The departure of an An to a happier world," answered my host,
"when, as in the case of my kinsman, he has lived so long in
124this as to have lost pleasure in it, is rather a cheerful
though quiet festival than a sacred ceremony, and you may
accompany me if you will."
Preceded by the child-messenger, we walked up the main street
to a house at some little distance, and, entering the hall,
were conducted to a room on the ground floor, where we found
several persons assembled round a couch on which was laid the
deceased. It was an old man, who had, as I was told, lived
beyond his 130th year. To judge by the calm smile on his
countenance, he had passed away without suffering. One of the
sons, who was now the head of the family, and who seemed in
vigorous middle life, though he was considerably more than
seventy, stepped forward with a cheerful face and told Aph-Lin
"that the day before he died his father had seen in a dream his
departed Gy, and was eager to be reunited to her, and restored
to youth beneath the nearer smile of the All-Good."
While these two were talking, my attention was drawn to a dark
metallic substance at the farther end of the room. It was
about twenty feet in length, narrow in proportion, and all
closed round, save, near the roof, there were small round holes
through which might be seen a red light. From the interior
emanated a rich and sweet perfume; and while I was conjecturing
what purpose this machine was to serve, all the time-pieces in
the town struck the hour with their solemn musical chime; and
as that sound ceased, music of a more joyous character, but
still of a joy subdued and tranquil, rang throughout the
chamber, and from the walls beyond, in a choral peal.
Symphonious with the melody, those in the room lifted their
voices in chant. The words of this hymn were simple. They
expressed no regret, no farewell, but rather a greeting to the
new world whither the deceased had preceded the living.
Indeed, in their language, the funeral hymn is called the
'Birth Song.' Then the corpse, covered by a long cerement, was
tenderly lifted up by six of the nearest kinfolk and borne
towards the dark thing I have described. I pressed forward to
125see what happened. A sliding door or panel at one end was
lifted up- the body deposited within, on a shelf- the door
reclosed- a spring a the side touched- a sudden 'whishing,'
sighing sound heard from within; and lo! at the other end of
the machine the lid fell down, and a small handful of
smouldering dust dropped into a 'patera' placed to receive it.
The son took up the 'patera' and said (in what I understood
afterwards was the usual form of words), "Behold how great is
the Maker! To this little dust He gave form and life and soul.
It needs not this little dust for Him to renew form and life
and soul to the beloved one we shall soon see again."
Each present bowed his head and pressed his hand to his heart.
Then a young female child opened a small door within the wall,
and I perceived, in the recess, shelves on which were placed
many 'paterae' like that which the son held, save that they all
had covers. With such a cover a Gy now approached the son, and
placed it over the cup, on which it closed with a spring. On
the lid were engraven the name of the deceased, and these
words:- "Lent to us" (here the date of birth). "Recalled from
us" (here the date of death).
The closed door shut with a musical sound, and all was over.
"And this," said I, with my mind full of what I had witnessed-
"this, I presume, is your usual form of burial?"
"Our invariable form," answered Aph-Lin. "What is it amongst
"We inter the body whole within the earth."
"What! To degrade the form you have loved and honoured, the
wife on whose breast you have slept, to the loathsomeness of
"But if the soul lives again, can it matter whether the body
waste within the earth or is reduced by that awful mechanism,
worked, no doubt by the agency of vril, into a pinch of dust?"
"You answer well," said my host, "and there is no arguing on a
matter of feeling; but to me your custom is horrible and
repulsive, and would serve to invest death with gloomy and
hideous associations. It is something, too, to my mind, to be
able to preserve the token of what has been our kinsman or
friend within the abode in which we live. We thus feel more
sensibly that he still lives, though not visibly so to us. But
our sentiments in this, as in all things, are created by
custom. Custom is not to be changed by a wise An, any more
than it is changed by a wise Community, without the greatest
deliberation, followed by the most earnest conviction. It is
only thus that change ceases to be changeability, and once made
is made for good.
When we regained the house, Aph-Lin summoned some of the
children in his service and sent them round to several of his
friends, requesting their attendance that day, during the Easy
Hours, to a festival in honour of his kinsman's recall to the
All-Good. This was the largest and gayest assembly I ever
witnessed during my stay among the Ana, and was prolonged far
into the Silent Hours.
The banquet was spread in a vast chamber reserved especially
for grand occasions. This differed from our entertainments,
and was not without a certain resemblance to those we read of
in the luxurious age of the Roman empire. There was not one
great table set out, but numerous small tables, each
appropriated to eight guests. It is considered that beyond
that number conversation languishes and friendship cools. The
Ana never laugh loud, as I have before observed, but the
cheerful ring of their voices at the various tables betokened
gaiety of intercourse. As they have no stimulant drinks, and
are temperate in food, though so choice and dainty, the banquet
itself did not last long. The tables sank through the floor,
127and then came musical entertainments for those who liked them.
Many, however, wandered away:- some of the younger ascended in
their wings, for the hall was roofless, forming aerial dances;
others strolled through the various apartments, examining the
curiosities with which they were stored, or formed themselves
into groups for various games, the favourite of which is a
complicated kind of chess played by eight persons. I mixed
with the crowd, but was prevented joining in the conversation
by the constant companionship of one or the other of my host's
sons, appointed to keep me from obtrusive questionings. The
guests, however, noticed me but slightly; they had grown
accustomed to my appearance, seeing me so often in the streets,
and I had ceased to excite much curiosity.
To my great delight Zee avoided me, and evidently sought to
excite my jealousy by marked attentions to a very handsome
young An, who (though, as is the modest custom of the males
when addressed by females, he answered with downcast eyes and
blushing cheeks, and was demure and shy as young ladies new to
the world are in most civilised countries, except England and
America) was evidently much charmed by the tall Gy, and ready
to falter a bashful "Yes" if she had actually proposed.
Fervently hoping that she would, and more and more averse to
the idea of reduction to a cinder after I had seen the rapidity
with which a human body can be hurried into a pinch of dust, I
amused myself by watching the manners of the other young
people. I had the satisfaction of observing that Zee was no
singular assertor of a female's most valued rights. Wherever I
turned my eyes, or lent my ears, it seemed to me that the Gy
was the wooing party, and the An the coy and reluctant one.
The pretty innocent airs which an An gave himself on being thus
courted, the dexterity with which he evaded direct answers to
professions of attachment, or turned into jest the flattering
compliments addressed to him, would have done honour to the
128most accomplished coquette. Both my male chaperons were
subjected greatly to these seductive influences, and both
acquitted themselves with wonderful honour to their tact and
I said to the elder son, who preferred mechanical employments
to the management of a great property, and who was of an
eminently philosophical temperament,- "I find it difficult to
conceive how at your age, and with all the intoxicating effects
on the senses, of music and lights and perfumes, you can be so
cold to that impassioned young Gy who has just left you with
tears in her eyes at your cruelty."
The young An replied with a sigh, "Gentle Tish, the greatest
misfortune in life is to marry one Gy if you are in love with
"Oh! You are in love with another?"
"And she does not return your love?"
"I don't know. Sometimes a look, a tone, makes me hope so; but
she has never plainly told me that she loves me."
"Have you not whispered in her own ear that you love her?"
"Fie! What are you thinking of? What world do you come from?
Could I so betray the dignity of my sex? Could I be so un-Anly-
so lost to shame, as to own love to a Gy who has not first
owned hers to me?"
"Pardon: I was not quite aware that you pushed the modesty of
your sex so far. But does no An ever say to a Gy, 'I love
you,' till she says it first to him?"
"I can't say that no An has ever done so, but if he ever does,
he is disgraced in the eyes of the Ana, and secretly despised
by the Gy-ei. No Gy, well brought up, would listen to him; she
would consider that he audaciously infringed on the rights of
her sex, while outraging the modesty which dignifies his own.
It is very provoking," continued the An, "for she whom I love
has certainly courted no one else, and I cannot but think she
likes me. Sometimes I suspect that she does not court me
because she fears I would ask some unreasonable settlement as
129to the surrender of her rights. But if so, she cannot really
love me, for where a Gy really loves she forgoes all rights."
"Is this young Gy present?"
"Oh yes. She sits yonder talking to my mother."
I looked in the direction to which my eyes were thus guided,
and saw a Gy dressed in robes of bright red, which among this
people is a sign that a Gy as yet prefers a single state. She
wears gray, a neutral tint, to indicate that she is looking
about for a spouse; dark purple if she wishes to intimate that
she has made a choice; purple and orange when she is betrothed
or married; light blue when she is divorced or a widow, and
would marry again. Light blue is of course seldom seen.
Among a people where all are of so high a type of beauty, it is
difficult to single out one as peculiarly handsome. My young
friend's choice seemed to me to possess the average of good
looks; but there was an expression in her face that pleased me
more than did the faces of the young Gy-ei generally, because
it looked less bold- less conscious of female rights. I
observed that, while she talked to Bra, she glanced, from time
to time, sidelong at my young friend.
"Courage," said I, "that young Gy loves you."
"Ay, but if she shall not say so, how am I the better for her love?"
"Your mother is aware of your attachment?"
"Perhaps so. I never owned it to her. It would be un-Anly to
confide such weakness to a mother. I have told my father; he
may have told it again to his wife."
"Will you permit me to quit you for a moment and glide behind
your mother and your beloved? I am sure they are talking about
you. Do not hesitate. I promise that I will not allow myself
to be questioned till I rejoin you."
The young An pressed his hand on his heart, touched me lightly
on the head, and allowed me to quit his side. I stole
unobserved behind his mother and his beloved. I overheard
Bra was speaking; said she, "There can be no doubt of this:
either my son, who is of marriageable age, will be decoyed into
marriage with one of his many suitors, or he will join those
who emigrate to a distance and we shall see him no more. If
you really care for him, my dear Lo, you should propose."
"I do care for him, Bra; but I doubt if I could really ever win
his affections. He is fond of his inventions and timepieces;
and I am not like Zee, but so dull that I fear I could not
enter into his favourite pursuits, and then he would get tired
of me, and at the end of three years divorce me, and I could
never marry another- never."
"It is not necessary to know about timepieces to know how to be
so necessary to the happiness of an An, who cares for
timepieces, that he would rather give up the timepieces than
divorce his Gy. You see, my dear Lo," continued Bra, "that
precisely because we are the stronger sex, we rule the other
provided we never show our strength. If you were superior to
my son in making timepieces and automata, you should, as his
wife, always let him suppose you thought him superior in that
art to yourself. The An tacitly allows the pre-eminence of the
Gy in all except his own special pursuit. But if she either
excels him in that, or affects not to admire him for his
proficiency in it, he will not love her very long; perhaps he
may even divorce her. But where a Gy really loves, she soon
learns to love all that the An does."
The young Gy made no answer to this address. She looked down
musingly, then a smile crept over her lips, and she rose, still
silent, and went through the crowd till she paused by the young
An who loved her. I followed her steps, but discreetly stood
at a little distance while I watched them. Somewhat to my
surprise, till I recollected the coy tactics among the Ana, the
lover seemed to receive her advances with an air of
indifference. He even moved away, but she pursued his steps,
131and, a little time after, both spread their wings and vanished
amid the luminous space above.
Just then I was accosted by the chief magistrate, who mingled
with the crowd distinguished by no signs of deference or
homage. It so happened that I had not seen this great
dignitary since the day I had entered his dominions, and
recalling Aph-Lin's words as to his terrible doubt whether or
not I should be dissected, a shudder crept over me at the sight
of his tranquil countenance.
"I hear much of you, stranger, from my son Taee," said the Tur,
laying his hand politely on my bended head. "He is very fond
of your society, and I trust you are not displeased with the
customs of our people."
I muttered some unintelligible answer, which I intended to be
an assurance of my gratitude for the kindness I had received
from the Tur, and my admiration of his countrymen, but the
dissecting-knife gleamed before my mind's eye and choked my
utterance. A softer voice said, "My brother's friend must be
dear to me." And looking up I saw a young Gy, who might be
sixteen years old, standing beside the magistrate and gazing at
me with a very benignant countenance. She had not come to her
full growth, and was scarcely taller than myself (viz., about 5
feet 10 inches), and, thanks to that comparatively diminutive
stature, I thought her the loveliest Gy I had hitherto seen. I
suppose something in my eyes revealed that impression, for her
countenance grew yet more benignant.
"Taee tells me," she said, "that you have not yet learned to
accustom yourself to wings. That grieves me, for I should have
liked to fly with you."
"Alas!" I replied, "I can never hope to enjoy that happiness.
I am assured by Zee that the safe use of wings is a hereditary
gift, and it would take generations before one of my race could
poise himself in the air like a bird."
132"Let not that thought vex you too much," replied this amiable
Princess, "for, after all, there must come a day when Zee and
myself must resign our wings forever. Perhaps when that day
comes we might be glad if the An we chose was also without
The Tur had left us, and was lost amongst the crowd. I began
to feel at ease with Taee's charming sister, and rather
startled her by the boldness of my compliment in replying,
"that no An she could choose would ever use his wings to fly
away from her." It is so against custom for an An to say such
civil things to a Gy till she has declared her passion for him,
and been accepted as his betrothed, that the young maiden stood
quite dumbfounded for a few moments. Nevertheless she did not
seem displeased. At last recovering herself, she invited me to
accompany her into one of the less crowded rooms and listen to
the songs of the birds. I followed her steps as she glided
before me, and she led me into a chamber almost deserted. A
fountain of naphtha was playing in the centre of the room;
round it were ranged soft divans, and the walls of the room
were open on one side to an aviary in which the birds were
chanting their artful chorus. The Gy seated herself on one of
the divans, and I placed myself at her side. "Taee tells me,"
she said, "that Aph-Lin has made it the law* of his house that
you are not to be questioned as to the country you come from or
the reason why you visit us. Is it so?"
* Literally "has said, In this house be it requested." Words
synonymous with law, as implying forcible obligation, are
avoided by this singular people. Even had it been decreed by
the Tur that his College of Sages should dissect me, the decree
would have ran blandly thus,- "Be it requested that, for the
good of the community, the carnivorous Tish be requested to
submit himself to dissection."
"May I, at least, without sinning against that law, ask at
least if the Gy-ei in your country are of the same pale colour
as yourself, and no taller?"
"I do not think, O beautiful Gy, that I infringe the law of
Aph-Lin, which is more binding on myself than any one, if I
133answer questions so innocent. The Gy-ei in my country are much
fairer of hue than I am, and their average height is at least a
head shorter than mine."
"They cannot then be so strong as the Ana amongst you? But I
suppose their superior vril force makes up for such extraordinary
disadvantage of size?"
"They do not profess the vril force as you know it. But still
they are very powerful in my country, and an An has small
chance of a happy life if he be not more or less governed by
"You speak feelingly," said Taee's sister, in a tone of voice
half sad, half petulant. "You are married, of course."
"No- certainly not."
"Is it possible that no Gy has proposed to you?"
"In my country the Gy does not propose; the An speaks first."
"What a strange reversal of the laws of nature!" said the maiden,
"and what want of modesty in your sex! But have you never proposed,
never loved one Gy more than another?"
I felt embarrassed by these ingenious questionings, and said,
"Pardon me, but I think we are beginning to infringe upon
Aph-Lin's injunction. This much only will I answer, and then,
I implore you, ask no more. I did once feel the preference you
speak of; I did propose, and the Gy would willingly have
accepted me, but her parents refused their consent."
"Parents! Do you mean seriously to tell me that parents can
interfere with the choice of their daughters?"
"Indeed they can, and do very often."
"I should not like to live in that country, said the Gy simply;
"but I hope you will never go back to it."
I bowed my head in silence. The Gy gently raised my face with
her right hand, and looked into it tenderly. "Stay with us,"
she said; "stay with us, and be loved."
What I might have answered, what dangers of becoming a cinder I
might have encountered, I still trouble to think, when the
light of the naphtha fountain was obscured by the shadow of
wings; and Zee, flying though the open roof, alighted beside
us. She said not a word, but, taking my arm with her mighty
hand, she drew me away, as a mother draws a naughty child, and
led me through the apartments to one of the corridors, on
which, by the mechanism they generally prefer to stairs, we
ascended to my own room. This gained, Zee breathed on my
forehead, touched my breast with her staff, and I was instantly
plunged into a profound sleep.
When I awoke some hours later, and heard the songs of the birds
in the adjoining aviary, the remembrance of Taee's sister, her
gentle looks and caressing words, vividly returned to me; and
so impossible is it for one born and reared in our upper
world's state of society to divest himself of ideas dictated by
vanity and ambition, that I found myself instinctively building
proud castles in the air.
"Tish though I be," thus ran my meditations- "Tish though I be,
it is then clear that Zee is not the only Gy whom my appearance
can captivate. Evidently I am loved by A PRINCESS, the first
maiden of this land, the daughter of the absolute Monarch whose
autocracy they so idly seek to disguise by the republican title
of chief magistrate. But for the sudden swoop of that horrible
Zee, this Royal Lady would have formally proposed to me; and
though it may be very well for Aph-Lin, who is only a
subordinate minister, a mere Commissioner of Light, to threaten
me with destruction if I accept his daughter's hand, yet a
Sovereign, whose word is law, could compel the community to
abrogate any custom that forbids intermarriage with one of a
strange race, and which in itself is a contradiction to their
boasted equality of ranks.
"It is not to be supposed that his daughter, who spoke with
such incredulous scorn of the interference of parents, would
135not have sufficient influence with her Royal Father to save me
from the combustion to which Aph-Lin would condemn my form.
And if I were exalted by such an alliance, who knows but what
the Monarch might elect me as his successor? Why not? Few among
this indolent race of philosophers like the burden of such
greatness. All might be pleased to see the supreme power
lodged in the hands of an accomplished stranger who has
experience of other and livelier forms of existence; and once
chosen, what reforms I would institute! What additions to the
really pleasant but too monotonous life of this realm my
familiarity with the civilised nations above ground would
effect! I am fond of the sports of the field. Next to war, is
not the chase a king's pastime? In what varieties of strange
game does this nether world abound? How interesting to strike
down creatures that were known above ground before the Deluge!
But how? By that terrible vril, in which, from want of
hereditary transmission, I could never be a proficient? No, but
by a civilised handy breech-loader, which these ingenious
mechanicians could not only make, but no doubt improve; nay,
surely I saw one in the Museum. Indeed, as absolute king, I
should discountenance vril altogether, except in cases of war.
Apropos of war, it is perfectly absurd to stint a people so
intelligent, so rich, so well armed, to a petty limit of
territory sufficing for 10,000 or 12,000 families. Is not this
restriction a mere philosophical crotchet, at variance with the
aspiring element in human nature, such as has been partially,
and with complete failure, tried in the upper world by the late
Mr. Robert Owen? Of course one would not go to war with the
neighbouring nations as well armed as one's own subjects; but
then, what of those regions inhabited by races unacquainted
with vril, and apparently resembling, in their democratic
institutions, my American countrymen? One might invade them
without offence to the vril nations, our allies, appropriate
their territories, extending, perhaps, to the most distant
136regions of the nether earth, and thus rule over an empire in
which the sun never sets. (I forgot, in my enthusiasm, that
over those regions there was no sun to set). As for the
fantastical notion against conceding fame or renown to an
eminent individual, because, forsooth, bestowal of honours
insures contest in the pursuit of them, stimulates angry
passions, and mars the felicity of peace- it is opposed to the
very elements, not only of the human, but of the brute
creation, which are all, if tamable, participators in the
sentiment of praise and emulation. What renown would be given
to a king who thus extended his empire! I should be deemed a
demigod." Thinking of that, the other fanatical notion of
regulating this life by reference to one which, no doubt, we
Christians firmly believe in, but never take into
consideration, I resolved that enlightened philosophy compelled
me to abolish a heathen religion so superstitiously at variance
with modern thought and practical action. Musing over these
various projects, I felt how much I should have liked at that
moment to brighten my wits by a good glass of whiskey-and-water.
Not that I am habitually a spirit-drinker, but certainly there
are times when a little stimulant of alcoholic nature, taken
with a cigar, enlivens the imagination. Yes; certainly among
these herbs and fruits there would be a liquid from which one
could extract a pleasant vinous alcohol; and with a steak cut
off one of those elks (ah! what offence to science to reject
the animal food which our first medical men agree in
recommending to the gastric juices of mankind!) one would
certainly pass a more exhilirating hour of repast. Then, too,
instead of those antiquated dramas performed by childish
amateurs, certainly, when I am king, I will introduce our
modern opera and a 'corps de ballet,' for which one might find,
among the nations I shall conquer, young females of less
formidable height and thews than the Gy-ei- not armed with
vril, and not insisting upon one's marrying them.
I was so completely rapt in these and similar reforms,
137political, social, and moral, calculated to bestow on the
people of the nether world the blessings of a civilisation
known to the races of the upper, that I did not perceive that
Zee had entered the chamber till I heard a deep sigh, and,
raising my eyes, beheld her standing by my couch.
I need not say that, according to the manners of this people, a
Gy can, without indecorum, visit an An in his chamber, although
an An would be considered forward and immodest to the last
degree if he entered the chamber of a Gy without previously
obtaining her permission to do so. Fortunately I was in the
full habiliments I had worn when Zee had deposited me on the
couch. Nevertheless I felt much irritated, as well as shocked,
by her visit, and asked in a rude tone what she wanted.
"Speak gently, beloved one, I entreat you," said she, "for I am
very unhappy. I have not slept since we parted."
"A due sense of your shameful conduct to me as your father's
guest might well suffice to banish sleep from your eyelids.
Where was the affection you pretend to have for me, where was
even that politeness on which the Vril-ya pride themselves,
when, taking advantage alike of that physical strength in which
your sex, in this extraordinary region, excels our own, and of
those detestable and unhallowed powers which the agencies of
vril invest in your eyes and finger-ends, you exposed me to
humiliation before your assembled visitors, before Her Royal
Highness- I mean, the daughter of your own chief magistrate,-
carrying me off to bed like a naughty infant, and plunging me
into sleep, without asking my consent?"
"Ungrateful! Do you reproach me for the evidences of my love?
Can you think that, even if unstung by the jealousy which attends
upon love till it fades away in blissful trust when we know that
the heart we have wooed is won, I could be indifferent to the
perils to which the audacious overtures of that silly little
child might expose you?"
138"Hold! Since you introduce the subject of perils, it perhaps
does not misbecome me to say that my most imminent perils come
from yourself, or at least would come if I believed in your
love and accepted your addresses. Your father has told me
plainly that in that case I should be consumed into a cinder
with as little compunction as if I were the reptile whom Taee
blasted into ashes with the flash of his wand."
"Do not let that fear chill your heart to me," exclaimed Zee,
dropping on her knees and absorbing my right hand in the space
of her ample palm. "It is true, indeed, that we two cannot wed
as those of the same race wed; true that the love between us
must be pure as that which, in our belief, exists between
lovers who reunite in the new life beyond that boundary at
which the old life ends. But is it not happiness enough to be
together, wedded in mind and in heart? Listen: I have just left
my father. He consents to our union on those terms. I have
sufficient influence with the College of Sages to insure their
request to the Tur not to interfere with the free choice of a
Gy; provided that her wedding with one of another race be but
the wedding of souls. Oh, think you that true love needs
ignoble union? It is not that I yearn only to be by your side
in this life, to be part and parcel of your joys and sorrows
here: I ask here for a tie which will bind us for ever and for
ever in the world of immortals. Do you reject me?"
As she spoke, she knelt, and the whole character of her face
was changed; nothing of sternness left to its grandeur; a
divine light, as that of an immortal, shining out from its
human beauty. But she rather awed me as an angel than moved me
as a woman, and after an embarrassed pause, I faltered forth
evasive expressions of gratitude, and sought, as delicately as
I could, to point out how humiliating would be my position
amongst her race in the light of a husband who might never be
permitted the name of father.
"But," said Zee, "this community does not constitute the whole
world. No; nor do all the populations comprised in the league
139of the Vril-ya. For thy sake I will renounce my country and my
people. We will fly together to some region where thou shalt
be safe. I am strong enough to bear thee on my wings across
the deserts that intervene. I am skilled enough to cleave
open, amidst the rocks, valleys in which to build our home.
Solitude and a hut with thee would be to me society and the
universe. Or wouldst thou return to thine own world, above the
surface of this, exposed to the uncertain seasons, and lit but
by the changeful orbs which constitute by thy description the
fickle character of those savage regions? I so, speak the word,
and I will force the way for thy return, so that I am thy
companion there, though, there as here, but partner of thy
soul, and fellow traveller with thee to the world in which
there is no parting and no death."
I could not but be deeply affected by the tenderness, at once
so pure and so impassioned, with which these words were
uttered, and in a voice that would have rendered musical the
roughest sounds in the rudest tongue. And for a moment it did
occur to me that I might avail myself of Zee's agency to effect
a safe and speedy return to the upper world. But a very brief
space for reflection sufficed to show me how dishonourable and
base a return for such devotion it would be to allure thus
away, from her own people and a home in which I had been so
hospitably treated, a creature to whom our world would be so
abhorrent, and for whose barren, if spiritual love, I could not
reconcile myself to renounce the more human affection of mates
less exalted above my erring self. With this sentiment of duty
towards the Gy combined another of duty towards the whole race
I belonged to. Could I venture to introduce into the upper
world a being so formidably gifted- a being that with a
movement of her staff could in less than an hour reduce New
York and its glorious Koom-Posh into a pinch of snuff? Rob her
of her staff, with her science she could easily construct
another; and with the deadly lightnings that armed the slender
engine her whole frame was charged. If thus dangerous to the
140cities and populations of the whole upper earth, could she be a
safe companion to myself in case her affection should be
subjected to change or embittered by jealousy? These thoughts,
which it takes so many words to express, passed rapidly through
my brain and decided my answer.
"Zee," I said, in the softest tones I could command and
pressing respectful lips on the hand into whose clasp mine
vanished- "Zee, I can find no words to say how deeply I am
touched, and how highly I am honoured, by a love so
disinterested and self-immolating. My best return to it is
perfect frankness. Each nation has its customs. The customs
of yours do not allow you to wed me; the customs of mine are
equally opposed to such a union between those of races so
widely differing. On the other hand, though not deficient in
courage among my own people, or amid dangers with which I am
familiar, I cannot, without a shudder of horror, think of
constructing a bridal home in the heart of some dismal chaos,
with all the elements of nature, fire and water, and mephitic
gases, at war with each other, and with the probability that at
some moment, while you were busied in cleaving rocks or
conveying vril into lamps, I should be devoured by a krek which
your operations disturbed from its hiding-place. I, a mere
Tish, do not deserve the love of a Gy, so brilliant, so learned,
so potent as yourself. Yes, I do not deserve that love, for I
cannot return it."
Zee released my hand, rose to her feet, and turned her face
away to hide her emotions; then she glided noiselessly along
the room, and paused at the threshold. Suddenly, impelled as
by a new thought, she returned to my side and said, in a
"You told me you would speak with perfect frankness. With
perfect frankness, then, answer me this question. If you
cannot love me, do you love another?"
"Certainly, I do not."
"You do not love Taee's sister?"
"I never saw her before last night."
141"That is no answer. Love is swifter than vril. You hesitate
to tell me. Do not think it is only jealousy that prompts me
to caution you. If the Tur's daughter should declare love to
you- if in her ignorance she confides to her father any
preference that may justify his belief that she will woo you,
he will have no option but to request your immediate
destruction, as he is specially charged with the duty of
consulting the good of the community, which could not allow the
daughter of the Vril-ya to wed a son of the Tish-a, in that
sense of marriage which does not confine itself to union of the
souls. Alas! there would then be for you no escape. She has
no strength of wing to uphold you through the air; she has no
science wherewith to make a home in the wilderness. Believe
that here my friendship speaks, and that my jealousy is
With these words Zee left me. And recalling those words, I
thought no more of succeeding to the throne of the Vril-ya, or
of the political, social, and moral reforms I should institute
in the capacity of Absolute Sovereign.
After the conversation with Zee just recorded, I fell into a
profound melancholy. The curious interest with which I had
hitherto examined the life and habits of this marvellous
community was at an end. I could not banish from my mind the
consciousness that I was among a people who, however kind and
courteous, could destroy me at any moment without scruple or
compunction. The virtuous and peaceful life of the people
which, while new to me, had seemed so holy a contrast to the
contentions, the passions, the vices of the upper world, now
began to oppress me with a sense of dulness and monotony. Even
the serene tranquility of the lustrous air preyed on my
142spirits. I longed for a change, even to winter, or storm, or
darkness. I began to feel that, whatever our dreams of
perfectibility, our restless aspirations towards a better, and
higher, and calmer, sphere of being, we, the mortals of the
upper world, are not trained or fitted to enjoy for long the
very happiness of which we dream or to which we aspire.
Now, in this social state of the Vril-ya, it was singular to
mark how it contrived to unite and to harmonise into one system
nearly all the objects which the various philosophers of the
upper world have placed before human hopes as the ideals of a
Utopian future. It was a state in which war, with all its
calamities, was deemed impossible,- a state in which the
freedom of all and each was secured to the uttermost degree,
without one of those animosities which make freedom in the
upper world depend on the perpetual strife of hostile parties.
Here the corruption which debases democracies was as unknown as
the discontents which undermine the thrones of monarchies.
Equality here was not a name; it was a reality. Riches were
not persecuted, because they were not envied. Here those
problems connected with the labours of a working class,
hitherto insoluble above ground, and above ground conducing to
such bitterness between classes, were solved by a process the
simplest,- a distinct and separate working class was dispensed
with altogether. Mechanical inventions, constructed on the
principles that baffled my research to ascertain, worked by an
agency infinitely more powerful and infinitely more easy of
management than aught we have yet extracted from electricity or
steam, with the aid of children whose strength was never
overtasked, but who loved their employment as sport and
pastime, sufficed to create a Public-wealth so devoted to the
general use that not a grumbler was ever heard of. The vices
that rot our cities here had no footing. Amusements abounded,
but they were all innocent. No merry-makings conduced to
intoxication, to riot, to disease. Love existed, and was
143ardent in pursuit, but its object, once secured, was faithful.
The adulterer, the profligate, the harlot, were phenomena so
unknown in this commonwealth, that even to find the words by
which they were designated one would have had to search
throughout an obsolete literature composed thousands of years
before. They who have been students of theoretical
philosophies above ground, know that all these strange
departures from civilised life do but realise ideas which have
been broached, canvassed, ridiculed, contested for; sometimes
partially tried, and still put forth in fantastic books, but
have never come to practical result. Nor were these all the
steps towards theoretical perfectibility which this community
had made. It had been the sober belief of Descartes that the
life of man could be prolonged, not, indeed, on this earth, to
eternal duration, but to what he called the age of the
patriarchs, and modestly defined to be from 100 to 150 years
average length. Well, even this dream of sages was here
fulfilled- nay, more than fulfilled; for the vigour of middle
life was preserved even after the term of a century was passed.
With this longevity was combined a greater blessing than
itself- that of continuous health. Such diseases as befell the
race were removed with ease by scientific applications of that
agency- life-giving as life-destroying- which is inherent in
vril. Even this idea is not unknown above ground, though it
has generally been confined to enthusiasts or charlatans, and
emanates from confused notions about mesmerism, odic force, &c.
Passing by such trivial contrivances as wings, which every
schoolboy knows has been tried and found wanting, from the
mythical or pre-historical period, I proceed to that very
delicate question, urged of late as essential to the perfect
happiness of our human species by the two most disturbing and
potential influences on upper-ground society,- Womankind and
Philosophy. I mean, the Rights of Women.
Now, it is allowed by jurisprudists that it is idle to talk of
rights where there are not corresponding powers to enforce
144them; and above ground, for some reason or other, man, in his
physical force, in the use of weapons offensive and defensive,
when it come to positive personal contest, can, as a rule of
general application, master women. But among this people there
can be no doubt about the rights of women, because, as I have
before said, the Gy, physically speaking, is bigger and
stronger than the An; and her will being also more resolute
than his, and will being essential to the direction of the vril
force, she can bring to bear upon him, more potently than he on
herself, the mystical agency which art can extract from the
occult properties of nature. Therefore all that our female
philosophers above ground contend for as to rights of women, is
conceded as a matter of course in this happy commonwealth.
Besides such physical powers, the Gy-ei have (at least in
youth) a keen desire for accomplishments and learning which
exceeds that of the male; and thus they are the scholars, the
professors- the learned portion, in short, of the community.
Of course, in this state of society the female establishes, as
I have shown, her most valued privilege, that of choosing and
courting her wedding partner. Without that privilege she would
despise all the others. Now, above ground, we should not
unreasonably apprehend that a female, thus potent and thus
privileged, when she had fairly hunted us down and married us,
would be very imperious and tyrannical. Not so with the Gy-ei:
once married, the wings once suspended, and more amiable,
complacent, docile mates, more sympathetic, more sinking their
loftier capacities into the study of their husbands'
comparatively frivolous tastes and whims, no poet could
conceive in his visions of conjugal bliss. Lastly, among the
more important characteristics of the Vril-ya, as distinguished
from our mankind- lastly, and most important on the bearings of
their life and the peace of their commonwealths, is their
universal agreement in the existence of a merciful beneficent
Diety, and of a future world to the duration of which a century
145or two are moments too brief to waste upon thoughts of fame and
power and avarice; while with that agreement is combined
another- viz., since they can know nothing as to the nature of
that Diety beyond the fact of His supreme goodness, nor of that
future world beyond the fact of its felicitous existence, so
their reason forbids all angry disputes on insoluble questions.
Thus they secure for that state in the bowels of the earth what
no community ever secured under the light of the stars- all the
blessings and consolations of a religion without any of the
evils and calamities which are engendered by strife between one
religion and another.
It would be, then, utterly impossible to deny that the state of
existence among the Vril-ya is thus, as a whole, immeasurably
more felicitous than that of super-terrestrial races, and,
realising the dreams of our most sanguine philanthropists,
almost approaches to a poet's conception of some angelical
order. And yet, if you would take a thousand of the best and
most philosophical of human beings you could find in London,
Paris, Berlin, New York, or even Boston, and place them as
citizens in the beatified community, my belief is, that in less
than a year they would either die of ennui, or attempt some
revolution by which they would militate against the good of the
community, and be burnt into cinders at the request of the Tur.
Certainly I have no desire to insinuate, through the medium of
this narrative, any ignorant disparagement of the race to which
I belong. I have, on the contrary, endeavoured to make it
clear that the principles which regulate the social system of
the Vril-ya forbid them to produce those individual examples of
human greatness which adorn the annals of the upper world.
Where there are no wars there can be no Hannibal, no
Washington, no Jackson, no Sheridan;- where states are so happy
that they fear no danger and desire no change, they cannot give
birth to a Demosthenes, a Webster, a Sumner, a Wendell Holmes,
or a Butler; and where a society attains to a moral standard,
146in which there are no crimes and no sorrows from which tragedy
can extract its aliment of pity and sorrow, no salient vices or
follies on which comedy can lavish its mirthful satire, it has
lost the chance of producing a Shakespeare, or a Moliere, or a
Mrs. Beecher-Stowe. But if I have no desire to disparage my
fellow-men above ground in showing how much the motives that
impel the energies and ambition of individuals in a society of
contest and struggle- become dormant or annulled in a society
which aims at securing for the aggregate the calm and innocent
felicity which we presume to be the lot of beatified immortals;
neither, on the other hand, have I the wish to represent the
commonwealths of the Vril-ya as an ideal form of political
society, to the attainment of which our own efforts of reform
should be directed. On the contrary, it is because we have so
combined, throughout the series of ages, the elements which
compose human character, that it would be utterly impossible
for us to adopt the modes of life, or to reconcile our passions
to the modes of thought among the Vril-ya,- that I arrived at
the conviction that this people- though originally not only of
our human race, but, as seems to me clear by the roots of their
language, descended from the same ancestors as the Great Aryan
family, from which in varied streams has flowed the dominant
civilisation of the world; and having, according to their myths
and their history, passed through phases of society familiar to
ourselves,- had yet now developed into a distinct species with
which it was impossible that any community in the upper world
could amalgamate: and that if they ever emerged from these
nether recesses into the light of day, they would, according to
their own traditional persuasions of their ultimate destiny,
destroy and replace our existent varieties of man.
It may, indeed, be said, since more than one Gy could be found
to conceive a partiality for so ordinary a type of our
super-terrestrial race as myself, that even if the Vril-ya did
147appear above ground, we might be saved from extermination by
intermixture of race. But this is too sanguine a belief.
Instances of such 'mesalliance' would be as rare as those of
intermarriage between the Anglo-Saxon emigrants and the Red
Indians. Nor would time be allowed for the operation of
familiar intercourse. The Vril-ya, on emerging, induced by the
charm of a sunlit heaven to form their settlements above
ground, would commence at once the work of destruction, seize
upon the territories already cultivated, and clear off, without
scruple, all the inhabitants who resisted that invasion. And
considering their contempt for the institutions of Koom-Posh or
Popular Government, and the pugnacious valour of my beloved
countrymen, I believe that if the Vril-ya first appeared in
free America- as, being the choicest portion of the habitable
earth, they would doubtless be induced to do- and said, "This
quarter of the globe we take; Citizens of a Koom-Posh, make way
for the development of species in the Vril-ya," my brave
compatriots would show fight, and not a soul of them would be
left in this life, to rally round the Stars and Stripes, at the
end of a week.
I now saw but little of Zee, save at meals, when the family
assembled, and she was then reserved and silent. My
apprehensions of danger from an affection I had so little
encouraged or deserved, therefore, now faded away, but my
dejection continued to increase. I pined for escape to the
upper world, but I racked my brains in vain for any means to
effect it. I was never permitted to wander forth alone, so
that I could not even visit the spot on which I had alighted,
and see if it were possible to reascend to the mine. Nor even
in the Silent Hours, when the household was locked in sleep,
could I have let myself down from the lofty floor in which my
apartment was placed. I knew not how to command the automata
who stood mockingly at my beck beside the wall, nor could I
ascertain the springs by which were set in movement the
platforms that supplied the place of stairs. The knowledge how
148to avail myself of these contrivances had been purposely
withheld from me. Oh, that I could but have learned the use of
wings, so freely here at the service of every infant, then I
might have escaped from the casement, regained the rocks, and
buoyed myself aloft through the chasm of which the
perpendicular sides forbade place for human footing!
One day, as I sat alone and brooding in my chamber, Taee flew
in at the open window and alighted on the couch beside me. I
was always pleased with the visits of a child, in whose
society, if humbled, I was less eclipsed than in that of Ana
who had completed their education and matured their
understanding. And as I was permitted to wander forth with him
for my companion, and as I longed to revisit the spot in which
I had descended into the nether world, I hastened to ask him if
he were at leisure for a stroll beyond the streets of the city.
His countenance seemed to me graver than usual as he replied,
"I came hither on purpose to invite you forth."
We soon found ourselves in the street, and had not got far from
the house when we encountered five or six young Gy-ei, who were
returning from the fields with baskets full of flowers, and
chanting a song in chorus as they walked. A young Gy sings
more often than she talks. They stopped on seeing us,
accosting Taee with familiar kindness, and me with the
courteous gallantry which distinguishes the Gy-ei in their
manner towards our weaker sex.
And here I may observe that, though a virgin Gy is so frank in
her courtship to the individual she favours, there is nothing
that approaches to that general breadth and loudness of manner
which those young ladies of the Anglo-Saxon race, to whom the
149distinguished epithet of 'fast' is accorded, exhibit towards
young gentlemen whom they do not profess to love. No; the
bearing of the Gy-ei towards males in ordinary is very much
that of high-bred men in the gallant societies of the upper
world towards ladies whom they respect but do not woo;
deferential, complimentary, exquisitely polished- what we
should call 'chivalrous.'
Certainly I was a little put out by the number of civil things
addressed to my 'amour propre,' which were said to me by those
courteous young Gy-ei. In the world I came from, a man would
have thought himself aggrieved, treated with irony, 'chaffed'
(if so vulgar a slang word may be allowed on the authority of
the popular novelists who use it so freely), when one fair Gy
complimented me on the freshness of my complexion, another on
the choice of colours in my dress, a third, with a sly smile,
on the conquests I had made at Aph-Lin's entertainment. But I
knew already that all such language was what the French call
'banal,' and did but express in the female mouth, below earth,
that sort of desire to pass for amiable with the opposite sex
which, above earth, arbitrary custom and hereditary
transmission demonstrate by the mouth of the male. And just as
a high-bred young lady, above earth, habituated to such
compliments, feels that she cannot, without impropriety, return
them, nor evince any great satisfaction at receiving them; so I
who had learned polite manners at the house of so wealthy and
dignified a Minister of that nation, could but smile and try to
look pretty in bashfully disclaiming the compliments showered
upon me. While we were thus talking, Taee's sister, it seems,
had seen us from the upper rooms of the Royal Palace at the
entrance of the town, and, precipitating herself on her wings,
alighted in the midst of the group.
Singling me out, she said, though still with the inimitable
deference of manner which I have called 'chivalrous,' yet not
without a certain abruptness of tone which, as addressed to the
weaker sex, Sir Philip Sydney might have termed 'rustic,' "Why
do you never come to see us?"
While I was deliberating on the right answer to give to this
unlooked-for question, Taee said quickly and sternly, "Sister,
you forget- the stranger is of my sex. It is not for persons
of my sex, having due regard for reputation and modesty, to
lower themselves by running after the society of yours."
This speech was received with evident approval by the young
Gy-ei in general; but Taee's sister looked greatly abashed.
Poor thing!- and a PRINCESS too!
Just at this moment a shadow fell on the space between me and
the group; and, turning round, I beheld the chief magistrate
coming close upon us, with the silent and stately pace peculiar
to the Vril-ya. At the sight of his countenance, the same
terror which had seized me when I first beheld it returned. On
that brow, in those eyes, there was that same indefinable
something which marked the being of a race fatal to our own-
that strange expression of serene exemption from our common
cares and passions, of conscious superior power, compassionate
and inflexible as that of a judge who pronounces doom. I
shivered, and, inclining low, pressed the arm of my
child-friend, and drew him onward silently. The Tur placed
himself before our path, regarded me for a moment without
speaking, then turned his eye quietly on his daughter's face,
and, with a grave salutation to her and the other Gy-ei, went
through the midst of the group,- still without a word.
When Taee and I found ourselves alone on the broad road that
lay between the city and the chasm through which I had
descended into this region beneath the light of the stars and
sun, I said under my breath, "Child and friend, there is a look
151in your father's face which appals me. I feel as if, in its
awful tranquillity, I gazed upon death."
Taee did not immediately reply. He seemed agitated, and as if
debating with himself by what words to soften some unwelcome
intelligence. At last he said, "None of the Vril-ya fear
death: do you?"
"The dread of death is implanted in the breasts of the race to
which I belong. We can conquer it at the call of duty, of
honour, of love. We can die for a truth, for a native land,
for those who are dearer to us than ourselves. But if death do
really threaten me now and here, where are such counteractions
to the natural instinct which invests with awe and terror the
contemplation of severance between soul and body?"
Taee looked surprised, but there was great tenderness in his
voice as he replied, "I will tell my father what you say. I
will entreat him to spare your life."
"He has, then, already decreed to destroy it?"
"'Tis my sister's fault or folly," said Taee, with some
petulance. "But she spoke this morning to my father; and,
after she had spoken, he summoned me, as a chief among the
children who are commissioned to destroy such lives as threaten
the community, and he said to me, 'Take thy vril staff, and
seek the stranger who has made himself dear to thee. Be his
end painless and prompt.'"
"And," I faltered, recoiling from the child- "and it is, then,
for my murder that thus treacherously thou hast invited me
forth? No, I cannot believe it. I cannot think thee guilty
of such a crime."
"It is no crime to slay those who threaten the good of the
community; it would be a crime to slay the smallest insect that
cannot harm us."
"If you mean that I threaten the good of the community because
your sister honours me with the sort of preference which a
child may feel for a strange plaything, it is not necessary to
kill me. Let me return to the people I have left, and by the
chasm through which I descended. With a slight help from you I
152might do so now. You, by the aid of your wings, could fasten
to the rocky ledge within the chasm the cord that you found,
and have no doubt preserved. Do but that; assist me but to the
spot from which I alighted, and I vanish from your world for
ever, and as surely as if I were among the dead."
"The chasm through which you descended! Look round; we stand
now on the very place where it yawned. What see you? Only
solid rock. The chasm was closed, by the orders of Aph-Lin, as
soon as communication between him and yourself was established
in your trance, and he learned from your own lips the nature of
the world from which you came. Do you not remember when Zee
bade me not question you as to yourself or your race? On
quitting you that day, Aph-Lin accosted me, and said, 'No path
between the stranger's home and ours should be left unclosed,
or the sorrow and evil of his home may descend to ours. Take
with thee the children of thy band, smite the sides of the
cavern with your vril staves till the fall of their fragments
fills up every chink through which a gleam of our lamps could
force its way.'"
As the child spoke, I stared aghast at the blind rocks before
me. Huge and irregular, the granite masses, showing by charred
discolouration where they had been shattered, rose from footing
to roof-top; not a cranny!
"All hope, then, is gone," I murmured, sinking down on the
craggy wayside, "and I shall nevermore see the sun." I covered
my face with my hands, and prayed to Him whose presence I had
so often forgotten when the heavens had declared His handiwork.
I felt His presence in the depths of the nether earth, and
amidst the world of the grave. I looked up, taking comfort and
courage from my prayers, and, gazing with a quiet smile into
the face of the child, said, "Now, if thou must slay me,
Taee shook his head gently. "Nay," he said, "my father's
request is not so formally made as to leave me no choice. I
will speak with him, and may prevail to save thee. Strange
153that thou shouldst have that fear of death which we thought was
only the instinct of the inferior creatures, to whom the
convictions of another life has not been vouchsafed. With us,
not an infant knows such a fear. Tell me, my dear Tish," he
continued after a little pause, "would it reconcile thee more
to departure from this form of life to that form which lies on
the other side of the moment called 'death,' did I share thy
journey? If so, I will ask my father whether it be allowable
for me to go with thee. I am one of our generation destined to
emigrate, when of age for it, to some regions unknown within
this world. I would just as soon emigrate now to regions
unknown, in another world. The All-Good is no less there than
here. Where is he not?"
"Child," said I, seeing by Taee's countenance that he spoke in
serious earnest, "it is crime in thee to slay me; it were a
crime not less in me to say, 'Slay thyself.' The All-Good
chooses His own time to give us life, and his own time to take
it away. Let us go back. If, on speaking with thy father, he
decides on my death, give me the longest warning in thy power,
so that I may pass the interval in self-preparation."
In the midst of those hours set apart for sleep and
constituting the night of the Vril-ya, I was awakened from the
disturbed slumber into which I had not long fallen, by a hand
on my shoulder. I started and beheld Zee standing beside me.
154"Hush," she said in a whisper; let no one hear us. Dost thou
think that I have ceased to watch over thy safety because I
could not win thy love? I have seen Taee. He has not prevailed
with his father, who had meanwhile conferred with the three
sages who, in doubtful matters, he takes into council, and by
their advice he has ordained thee to perish when the world
re-awakens to life. I will save thee. Rise and dress."
Zee pointed to a table by the couch on which I saw the clothes
I had worn on quitting the upper world, and which I had
exchanged subsequently for the more picturesque garments of the
Vril-ya. The young Gy then moved towards the casement and
stepped into the balcony, while hastily and wonderingly I
donned my own habiliments. When I joined her on the balcony,
her face was pale and rigid. Taking me by the hand, she said
softly, "See how brightly the art of the Vril-ya has lighted up
the world in which they dwell. To-morrow the world will be
dark to me." She drew me back into the room without waiting for
my answer, thence into the corridor, from which we descended
into the hall. We passed into the deserted streets and along
the broad upward road which wound beneath the rocks. Here,
where there is neither day nor night, the Silent Hours are
unutterably solemn- the vast space illumined by mortal skill is
so wholly without the sight and stir of mortal life. Soft as
were our footsteps, their sounds vexed the ear, as out of
harmony with the universal repose. I was aware in my own mind,
though Zee said it not, that she had decided to assist my
return to the upper world, and that we were bound towards the
place from which I had descended. Her silence infected me and
commanded mine. And now we approached the chasm. It had been
re-opened; not presenting, indeed, the same aspect as when I
had emerged from it, but through that closed wall of rock
before which I had last stood with Taee, a new clift had been
riven, and along its blackened sides still glimmered sparks and
smouldered embers. My upward gaze could not, however,
155penetrate more than a few feet into the darkness of the hollow
void, and I stood dismayed, and wondering how that grim ascent
was to be made.
Zee divined my doubt. "Fear not," said she, with a faint
smile; "your return is assured. I began this work when the
Silent Hours commenced, and all else were asleep; believe that
I did not paused till the path back into thy world was clear.
I shall be with thee a little while yet. We do not part until
thou sayest, 'Go, for I need thee no more.'"
My heart smote me with remorse at these words. "Ah!" I exclaimed,
"would that thou wert of my race or I of thine, then I should
never say, "I need thee no more.'"
"I bless thee for those words, and I shall remember them when
thou art gone," answered the Gy, tenderly.
During this brief interchange of words, Zee had turned away
from me, her form bent and her head bowed over her breast.
Now, she rose to the full height of her grand stature, and
stood fronting me. While she had been thus averted from my
gaze, she had lighted up the circlet that she wore round her
brow, so that it blazed as if it were a crown of stars. Not
only her face and her form, but the atmosphere around, were
illumined by the effulgence of the diadem.
"Now," said she, "put thine arm around me for the first and
last time. Nay, thus; courage, and cling firm."
As she spoke her form dilated, the vast wings expanded.
Clinging to her, I was borne aloft through the terrible chasm.
The starry light from her forehead shot around and before us
through the darkness. Brightly and steadfastly, and swiftly as
an angel may soar heavenward with the soul it rescues from the
grave, went the flight of the Gy, till I heard in the distance
the hum of human voices, the sounds of human toil. We halted
on the flooring of one of the galleries of the mine, and
beyond, in the vista, burned the dim, feeble lamps of the
Then I released my hold. The Gy kissed me on my forehead,
passionately, but as with a mother's passion, and said, as the
tears gushed from her eyes, "Farewell for ever. Thou wilt not
let me go into thy world- thou canst never return to mine. Ere
our household shake off slumber, the rocks will have again
closed over the chasm not to be re-opened by me, nor perhaps by
others, for ages yet unguessed. Think of me sometimes, and
with kindness. When I reach the life that lies beyond this
speck in time, I shall look round for thee. Even there, the
world consigned to thyself and thy people may have rocks and
gulfs which divide it from that in which I rejoin those of my
race that have gone before, and I may be powerless to cleave
way to regain thee as I have cloven way to lose."
Her voice ceased. I heard the swan-like sough of her wings,
and saw the rays of her starry diadem receding far and farther
through the gloom.
I sate myself down for some time, musing sorrowfully; then I
rose and took my way with slow footsteps towards the place in
which I heard the sounds of men. The miners I encountered were
strange to me, of another nation than my own. They turned to
look at me with some surprise, but finding that I could not
answer their brief questions in their own language, they
returned to their work and suffered me to pass on unmolested.
In fine, I regained the mouth of the mine, little troubled by
other interrogatories;- save those of a friendly official to
whom I was known, and luckily he was too busy to talk much with
me. I took care not to return to my former lodging, but
hastened that very day to quit a neighbourhood where I could
not long have escaped inquiries to which I could have given no
satisfactory answers. I regained in safety my own country, in
which I have been long peacefully settled, and engaged in
practical business, till I retired on a competent fortune,
three years ago. I have been little invited and little tempted
to talk of the rovings and adventures of my youth. Somewhat
157disappointed, as most men are, in matters connected with
household love and domestic life, I often think of the young Gy
as I sit alone at night, and wonder how I could have rejected
such a love, no matter what dangers attended it, or by what
conditions it was restricted. Only, the more I think of a
people calmly developing, in regions excluded from our sight
and deemed uninhabitable by our sages, powers surpassing our
most disciplined modes of force, and virtues to which our life,
social and political, becomes antagonistic in proportion as our
civilisation advances,- the more devoutly I pray that ages may
yet elapse before there emerge into sunlight our inevitable
destroyers. Being, however, frankly told by my physician that
I am afflicted by a complaint which, though it gives little
pain and no perceptible notice of its encroachments, may at any
moment be fatal, I have thought it my duty to my fellow-men to
place on record these forewarnings of The Coming Race.