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  • 1899
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When I say mistaken, I do not mean mistaken in the sense that our church people might apply the term to him; for our church people seem to misunderstand him, almost as greatly as he misapprehends the purposes of nineteenth-century Anglo-Saxon Christian workers. But mark my words, sir, you will soon, in England, hear of this young ‘infidel’ lecturer; for with his keen brain, his invincible logic, his concise and beautiful rhetoric, he will soon be recognized as the most popular living agnostic. His home is not far distant from Bellevue, and I have frequently heard him lecture. I think him the best platform orator I have ever listened to, though I have twice been charmed by the eloquence of Phillips, and a dozen times by that of Beecher. I shall not outrage your own and my own manhood by alluding to anything which the more partisan church people say of this brilliant agnostic; and I say what I do, only because in your distant home you may some day wonder just what is behind an agnostic demonstration such as he is leading up to, and which is certain to centralize the dissatisfied spirit of the country into an anti-church propaganda of no mean proportions. I am opposed to such a movement; but I believe in truth as the only durable weapon, and I love truth for truth’s sake–I should refuse to enter the gateway of heaven if liars were admitted. I cannot go into the history of this man, but this much is fact: There are reasons which cause him to believe that in striking at Christianity he is performing a highly praiseworthy action. In this belief he is as sincere and as enthusiastic in his cold logical way, as is any Christian in _his_ belief. If duplicity were possible to this man–or if he could have found it consistent with his sense of right even to keep silence concerning his opinion on religious subjects–he would by this time have been Governor of Illinois; and, with his ability, there is no elective office in the country to which he might not aspire with reasonable certainty of success. He himself is aware of all this, as are all who know him. At the early age of thirty-three, before his views were generally known, he was our Attorney-General. No political party will ever again dare to nominate him for an office.”

“This is all wrong,” I said; “it savors of religious persecution.”

“True,” said Castleton, “it does; but the fact is as I state it. He would if he ran for office lose enough votes from his own party to allow his opponent to win.”

“But, my dear doctor,” I said, “I fail to catch your reasons for thinking this man mistaken. You surely would not have him be untrue to himself?”

“Oh, no–never that! I mean that he is intellectually mistaken in thinking that the world is still to be benefited by agnostic agitation among the masses. Voltaire had a good reason for proclaiming and teaching his views, because in France, in his day, religious infidelity was necessary to political liberty. Tom Paine had a good reason for his course, because Christianity, misrepresented at that time by mistaken or corrupt men, was arrayed on the side of the despot, and so continued up to the beginning of the French Revolution. But this man has no good excuse for a fight against church influence in the United States, now in 1877. The influence of the Christian church is now certainly exerted for good, and does not attempt to restrict the liberty of any man, or of society.”

“But did you not just say that this agnostic’s views would forever prevent his election to public office, here in this great free country, in the year 1877 and onward?”

“We cannot have a free country and not allow a man to vote against another, even if his vote were influenced by the cut of a candidate’s trousers.”

“Yes,” I said; “but if the cut of a candidate’s trousers influenced a man’s vote, such a man would be a good object for education. Your agnostic would no doubt say that the influence of church is to be fought so long as it judges of a man’s capability to do one thing well by his opinion on a totally different subject.”

“You will never educate the people out of their prejudices; but I myself should vote against this man because his course shows his views to be inconsistent with statesmanship. No person desires to restrict another’s individual opinions; we only combat this man’s because of their effects, as he combats those of his opponents. There are as many agnostics, proportionally, that would not vote for a Presbyterian, for instance, for public office, as there are Presbyterians who, under like circumstances, would not vote for an agnostic.”

“But in what way does the belief, or want of belief, of an agnostic, prevent an otherwise able man from being a statesman?” I asked.

“No doubt some of the best statesmen living are agnostics; but they are not agnostic agitators. Men who are able to digest and assimilate agnostic opinions, are able to initiate those ideas for themselves; and only men who are able to properly digest and assimilate such ideas should have them at all.”

“Can you,” I asked, “state an instance in which what you indicate as premature education of the masses in agnostic ideas, might lead to injury to the persons so instructed, or to society at large?”

“Yes, sir, I can. Your ignorant American–the ‘cracker’ element of the South, your ignorant Italian, and your ignorant Irishman are injured by taking away their religious beliefs. The first of these, when church people, dress neatly, are honorable, and have some upward-tending ambitions; whilst those of them that are infidels are reduced–men and women–to a state of ambitionless inertia and tobacco saturation–if no worse. The two latter are either under religious control, or under secret-society control. If the lower-class Irishman or Italian, unendowed with judgment to rightly use the little knowledge he already possesses–to properly interpret his own feelings or guide his own impulses–has not his church with its priestly control, he will have his secret-society with its secret executive control, its bovine fury, and its senseless pertinacity, the poison-bowl and the dagger. For my part, if a man must either seek liberty from ambush, and learn independence through treachery, or else be on his knees before a graven image, suited to his mental calibre–let us keep him on his knees till he can rise to something better than murder. Why, sir, an Irish Republican (a rarity)–an editor, once said to me that some of our Irish emigrants have hair on their teeth when they get to America; and, though I may be wrong, I never see an Italian organ-grinder without first thinking of a dagger between my ribs, and then settling down to a comfortable feeling that if the fellow’s a Catholic the confessional stands between me and such a danger. The man who attempts to teach such fellows about complete liberty should be responsible for any consequent acts.”

“Still, doctor,” I said, “the road to universal knowledge cannot be all smooth. Ground must be broken by somebody. If there is anything in Christianity that bars the way to final freedom of mind for the whole human race, then I myself say, clear away the obstructions–the work cannot begin too soon or continue too vigorously.”

“I see nothing in true Christianity but good for the human race–surely you speak only to call out my own views. If there is anything in any church policy or polity which requires reforming, let it be reformed.”

“Excuse me, doctor,” I said; “but I had thought you yourself an agnostic. Do you not think that if a religion will not bear the test of cold reason, it should be discarded from the lives of men?”

“No, I do not. The human mind is not comprised in intellect alone–it has its moral or emotional side, wholly apart from reason. Religion is not to be reasoned about–it is to be felt. No founder of a religion ever claimed for it a place in man’s reason. Now just think for a minute. Let us leave the ignorant, and consider what the best of men are–men who have attained a mental cultivation certainly as great as will ever be possible to the masses. Take the very highest society in England and America–to what extent are its members controlled by _reason_, and to what extent by _feeling_ and by the fixed sentiments growing out of feeling? Ratiocination does not influence one of their actions in a million. There is not within my knowledge a single instance where a purely rational conception has been the basis of practice, in opposition to feeling.”

“Surely,” I said, “you do not mean to say that educated men are not governed in the main by reason?”

“I mean just what I say–that I do not know, in practice, a single instance in which they are so governed in opposition to feeling. Pshaw, pshaw! young man; if we are to compel the acts of practical daily life to conform with a dialectic demonstration of what is best for us–to do only what is in reason best for us–we must simply cease to live, though we do continue to breathe. Even in physics, of what use are logical demonstrations, when the premises are only a foundation more unstable than quicksand–purely provisional?

“Now if these agnostics were truthful–which they try to be; and were consistent–which they are not, they would be in a trying situation. Reason shows no advantage to a man in kissing his wife; he has no syllogistic endorsement for supporting her and the children; in fact, he has no business to have children–all the result of feeling or sentiment, all rubbish, and beneath the intellect of a man who worships Pure Reason! And if the demands of man’s moral or affectional nature are a reason for such indulgences, then his aspirations to the great primal cause of the known, the unknown, and (to us here and now) unknowable wonders and mysteries of the universe without, and of ourselves within, is also justifiable in reason, and ought not by wit and eloquence to be juggled out of the ingenuous mind. The masses are governed by religion, directly and indirectly, to an extent much greater than at first thought appears. The daily life of the agnostic himself is shaped by his Christian heredity and environment. Now our Author furnishes no substitute for this intuitive demand of being. If reason can supply nothing in place of religion, why not allow those who possess religious conviction to retain so agreeable, and to others beneficial, a belief?–Now right here I can detect the voice of the agnostic agitator–this is his strongest situation, and he simply smiles when you make this opening for him. The voice says, ‘Agreeable? Agreeable to burn forever in hell? Well, well, my friend–our ideas of pleasure differ.’ This is sophistical twaddle. It is not the Christian that suffers from a fear of hell–it is the sinner, through his guilty conscience. Conscience, conscience; the only barrier between us and hell on earth! Christians are comforted by the thought of a loving Christ–Christians, in my experience, do not suffer.”

“Why, sir,” I said, “I cannot but wonder that you are not yourself a professed Christian.”

“Never mind me, young man.–But here we are on the edge of town. I could, if I wanted to, preach a sermon capable of converting every heathen within sound of my voice. Once, at a camp-meeting, I did preach a sermon; and I tell you, the old people looked mighty sober, and the younger and more susceptible of my auditors covered their faces with their hands and seemed to shake with grief and contrition. But, pshaw, pshaw; people don’t go to hear either witty agnostics lecture, or preachers preach, to get something for their brain-boxes to reason about. Believe me “–tapping the volume, still in his hand–“this sort of thing won’t make anybody reason. After all, the question is one of swapping off Christ for an Illinois lawyer.”

The EIGHTH Chapter

It lacked half an hour of nine o’clock as we drove up before the Loomis House, where I alighted, and ran up to my rooms. I had scarcely more than made a hasty toilet, when Arthur came in. After telling me who had, during my absence, called to see me, and after attending to some trifling wants which I expressed, he shuffled his feet in a style that I had learned to recognize as indicating a desire to say something not within the compass of our purely business relationship–a liberty which the precedents of our first two days of acquaintanceship in connection with later events had solidified into a vested right.

“Well, Arthur?” I said.

“I read the whole book, sir–there it is, on the table. That book just did get me. But what did become of Pym and Peters? And is it true you’ve found that old soc-doligin’ pirate?”

I told him that Peters was found.

“Well, now!” he continued. “I’d like to see the old four-foot-eighter. But if you love me, tell me what that white curtain reachin’ down from the sky was, and what made the ocean bilin’ hot? What made them ante-artic niggers so ‘fraid of everything white, and what was the hiryglificks on the black marble meant to say? And, most of all, who was the female that stood in the way of the boat? Say–I don’t blame anybody–but if Mr. Poe knowed he didn’t know these points, what did he get our mouths waterin’ for? Did you find out these points yet?”

I explained to him that probably at that very moment Doctor Bainbridge was sitting on the edge of Dirk Peters’ cot, drinking in the wonderful story; and that as soon as a certain gentleman had called to see me, I expected to return to Peters’ house, and to remain until we knew all.

“Go slow,” said Arthur, “and don’t fall down on any importing points. Better take time, and catch everything. I asked Doctor Castleton last night what made that ocean bile; and he said he guessed the mouth of hell was down that way, and Satin had just opened the door to air out. That’s him; if it ain’t heaven it’s got to be hell. But how old Peters ever lived this long with Castleton monkeyin’ with him is a mighty funny thing.–But who’s that?”

A rap had sounded on my door. My caller had arrived.

I did not succeed in getting back to Bainbridge and Peters so soon as I had expected. My business in the town dragged along far into the evening, and it was nine o’clock by the time I was at liberty. At ten o’clock I sent for a conveyance, and was driven to Peters’ house, where I arrived just before midnight.

I found Peters sleeping soundly, and Bainbridge dozing in a chair. My entrance aroused Bainbridge. He arose, smiling, and was apparently glad to see me. I saw at a glance that he had been successful in obtaining from Peters the secrets of his antarctic voyage. “Well?” I asked.

“The information which I have gained,” said Bainbridge, “even could I procure no more, would suffice to explain all those mysteries that Poe hints at as fact, and much that he seems to apprehend with that sixth sense which in the genius approaches a union of clairvoyance and prescience–mysteries of which he does not speak in language sufficiently clear for common comprehension. At all events, I am not disappointed; and more may yet be procured. There remains much of interest, in the way of _minutiae_, which I expect to learn to-morrow. I know now what made that antarctic region more than tropical, and what the white curtain was–and is. I know how the hieroglyphics came in the caverns of black marl. That antarctic country exceeds, in the truly wonderful, anything in the world, old or new, with which I am acquainted, or of which I have heard.”

“But is it true? Have you not been listening to fairy tales?–or, rather, to sailor tales?”

“When to-morrow I tell you what I have, hour after hour, with brief rests, drawn from that poor old battered hulk”–he pointed toward Peters’ cot–“and when you consider what he is–then say if he is the man, or his sailor friends are the men, to invent such a story. I admit that at times during the day his mind seemed to wander slightly, and that he has the usual faculty of sea-faring men for exaggeration; so that at times I had to employ my best discrimination to enable me to separate the real from the fanciful, that I might retain the true and discard the untrue. He seems to have lived for more than a year in proximity to the South Pole, and his experiences were as marvellous as that country is strangely grand, and its people truly wonderful–Oh, no–nothing on the Gulliver order; the people are not dwarfs or giants, and they have no horses either that talk or that do not talk; no yahoos–nothing in that line. ‘Wings?’ Oh, no–no flying men or women, no women in gauze, either; everything quite in good taste and genteel. Just wait, now; you’ll hear it all in an orderly way–which I myself did not, however. ‘One-eyed?’ I told you, just now, that it was all in good taste and genteel. No, no; nothing Homeric–no sheep, and no sirens. Now, I’m really tired, and you’ll not succeed in starting me on a story that’ll take six or eight hours to tell, even if we do not stop to discuss matters as we progress. To-morrow, as I before said, we will get from Peters all other possible facts, and no doubt we shall gather further particulars; then we will go to town. I intend to come out here every day till Peters gets better or dies–and I suppose you will not refuse to keep me company. Every evening we will meet in my rooms, or in yours, and I will recite the story in my own way. Now does that satisfy you?”

It satisfied me fully, I said; and then we spread our blankets, and made a night of it on the floor.

The next day Bainbridge spent the forenoon, for the most part, sitting on the edge of Dirk Peters’ cot, listening to the old man talk, describe, explain. I walked out, and explored the immediately adjacent country, entertaining myself as best I could. At about two o’clock in the afternoon we started for town, leaving Peters much better than when two days before we had first, together, entered his humble home. We promised to see him the next day; and, in fact, one or both of us returned each day for many succeeding days. That evening Doctor Bainbridge came to my rooms, and began the recitation of Dirk Peters’ story; and that, too, was continued from day to day.

And it is now time that the patient reader should also know the secrets of that far-distant antarctic region–secrets of which Poe himself died in ignorance–save as the genius, the seer, knows the wonders of heaven and earth–sees gems that lie in hidden places, and flowers that bloom obscurely, and feels the mysteries of ocean depths, and all that is so far–or near, so great–or small, that common vision sees it not.

The NINTH Chapter

There may be among my readers some who have never read “The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym,” or have so long ago perused that interesting and mysterious conception, that they have forgotten even the outlines of the story. It is the purpose of the present chapter to review a few of the incidents in that narrative, a knowledge of which will add to the clearer understanding of Peters’ story.

Those who are familiar with Edgar Allan Poe’s admirable and entrancing narrative just mentioned, are aware that it is written in autobiographical form, the facts for the most part being furnished by Pym in the shape of journal or diary entries, which are edited by Mr. Poe. For such readers it will be but a waste of time to peruse the present chapter, brief though it is. And let me further say to any chance reader of mine who has never had opportunity to enjoy that exciting and edifying work of America’s great genius of prose fiction, that he is to be envied the possession of the belated pleasure that awaits him–only a treasured memory of which delight remains to the rest of us.

From my own narrative I shall omit much of description and colloquy which, during its development in 1877, occurred concerning discoveries of a geographical and geological nature, and also many discussions of a character purely philosophical; but no fact shall be discarded. The historian has, in my opinion, no discretionary power concerning the introduction or elimination of facts. His duty is plain, and in the present instance it shall be faithfully performed.

The following presents a very general outline of “The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym”:

In the year 1827, Pym, just verging upon manhood, runs away from his home in the town of Nantucket, on the island of the same name, in companionship with his boy friend, Augustus Barnard, son of the captain of the ship on which they depart. The name of the brig on which they embark is the Grampus, which is starting for a trading voyage in the South Pacific Ocean. Young Barnard secretes Pym in the hold of the brig, to remain hidden until so far from land as to make a return of the runaway impracticable. Pym, hidden amid the freightage of the hold, falls into a prolonged slumber, probably caused by the foul air in that part of the vessel. When the brig is four days at sea, a majority of the crew mutiny; and after killing many of those who have not joined them, Captain Barnard is set adrift in a small boat, without food and with only a jug of water. Young Barnard is permitted to remain on the vessel. There is a dog that plays a leading part in the mutiny episode by acting as a messenger between Barnard and Pym, who had no other means of communicating.

Next comes a counter mutiny, made necessary to preserve the life of one Peters, a sailor to whom Barnard owes his life. The ship’s cook is determined to kill Peters, and is about to accomplish his purpose, when Peters, young Barnard, and a sailor named Parker, who joins the two, devise a plan for overcoming the mutineers of the “cook’s party.” This they succeeded in doing by, at the right moment, producing from his hiding-place young Pym, who is dressed to resemble a certain murdered sailor whose corpse is still on the brig; and during the fright of the “cook’s party,” Peters and Parker kill the cook and his followers.

Then the four–Barnard, Pym, Peters, and the sailor Parker–have many thrilling adventures. The brig is finally wrecked in a storm, and only the inverted hull remains above water, to which the four cling for many days. The party is at last rescued by a trading-vessel on its way to discover new lands in the Antarctic Ocean. They reach 83 south latitude, soon after which a landing is made on an island inhabited by a tribe of strange black people. Here, through a trick of the islanders, the crew lose their lives–all save Pym and Peters. Parker had already died, and in a manner more entertaining to the reader in the perusal than to Parker in the performance; and which, Peters said forty-nine years later, the mere thought of, always made him willing to wait for his supper when he had of necessity to forego a dinner.

Whilst escaping in a small boat from this island, Pym and Peters abduct one of the male natives. Like his fellows, this native is black, even to his teeth; in fact, there is nothing white on the whole island; even the water has its peculiarities. And also like his fellows, he dreads the color _white_; and whenever he sees anything white he becomes almost frenzied or paralyzed with terror. The small boat with its three occupants is carried on an ocean current, to the south. One day Pym, in taking a white handkerchief from his pocket allows the wind to flare it into the face of the black islander, who sinks in convulsions to the bottom of the boat, later moaning (as had moaned the other islanders on seeing white), “Tekeli-li, tekeli-li.” He continued to breathe, and no more. The following day the body of a white animal floats by, a body similar to one which they had seen on the beach of the island last visited. Then they see in the south a white curtain, which, after their further progress in its direction, they observe reaches from the sky to the water. The water of the ocean current which is hurrying them along becomes hour by hour warmer, and finally hot. An ash-like material, which seems to melt as it touches the water, falls all around and over them. Gigantic white birds fly from beyond the white curtain, screaming the eternal “Teke-li-li, tekeli-li”–a syllabication that dies away on the lips of the islander as his soul finally, on that last terrible day, leaves his body.

The last words of the last of Pym’s entries in his journal are as follows:

“And now we rushed into the embraces of the cataract, where a chasm threw itself open to receive us. But there arose in our pathway a shrouded human figure, very far larger in its proportions than any dweller among men. And the hue of the skin of the figure was of the perfect whiteness of the snow.”

The following description of Dirk Peters as he appeared in the year 1827, or just fifty years before I saw him, apparently a man of seventy-five years (though we finally concluded that he was nearer eighty), is Pym’s, quoted from Poe’s narrative:

“This man was the son of an Indian woman of the tribe of Upsarokas, who live among fastnesses of the Black Hills, near the source of the Missouri. His father was a fur-trader, I believe, or at least connected in some manner with the Indian trading-posts on Lewis River. Peters himself was one of the most ferocious looking men I ever beheld. He was short in stature, not more than four feet eight inches high, but his limbs were of Herculean mould. His hands, especially, were so enormously thick and broad as hardly to retain a human shape. His arms, as well as his legs, were bowed in the most singular manner, and appeared to possess no flexibility whatever. His head was equally deformed, being of immense size, with an indentation on the crown (like that on the head of most negroes) and entirely bald. To conceal this latter deficiency, which did not proceed from old age, he usually wore a wig formed of any hair-like material which presented itself–occasionally the skin of a Spanish dog or American grizzly bear. At the time spoken of, he had on a portion of one of these bear-skins; and it added no little to the natural ferocity of his countenance, which betook of the Upsaroka character. The mouth extended nearly from ear to ear; the lips were thin, and seemed, like some other portions of his frame, to be devoid of natural pliancy, so that the ruling expression never varied under the influence of any emotion whatever. This ruling expression may be conceived when it is considered that the teeth were exceedingly long and protruding, and were never even partially covered, in any instance, by the lips. To pass this man with a casual glance, one might imagine him to be convulsed with laughter; but a second look would induce a shuddering acknowledgment, that if such an expression were indicative of merriment, the merriment must be that of a demon. Of this singular being many anecdotes were prevalent among the seafaring men of Nantucket. These anecdotes went to prove his prodigious strength when under excitement, and some of them had given rise to a doubt of his sanity.”

THE STORY OF DIRK PETERS

The TENTH Chapter

During the early evening of the day on which Doctor Bainbridge and I returned from our stay with Dirk Peters, I sat in my room at the Loomis House, impatiently awaiting the moment when Bainbridge was to arrive. I knew that he was wearied by his labors with Peters, and I did not anticipate a prolonged talk from him. Still, I was anxious to hear at least a beginning of the promised story. At the appointed time he came in, and placing a roll of paper on the table, took the large easy-chair which I had placed for him.

“As I know,” he said, “that the developments of the past three days must, quite naturally, have developed a curiosity in you of some intensity to hear the sequel of the Pym adventures, I shall endeavor not to keep you unnecessarily waiting; but shall allay at once a portion of your curiosity. Later–tomorrow, if agreeable–I will deal with the particulars of that strange voyage–perhaps the strangest ever made by man.”

He picked up, and smoothed out upon the table, the roll of paper which he had brought with him; and then continued:

“In the first place, I will briefly and in a very general way describe for you the south polar region, which, I feel certain, Pym and Peters reached, and where they resided for somewhat more than one year. Here is a map which I have with some care drawn from rough sketches jotted down as I sat on the edge of Peters’ cot, and each of which sketches I had him verify.

[Illustration: Map of Southpolar region and hili-li

A. Central space of boiling lava Diameter 15 miles. Probable situation South Pole
B. Ring of hot lava, white hot at inner edge, red hot at outer edge. Width, about 4 miles
C. Ring of hot lava, dull red, shading to black heat at outer edge. Width, about 4 miles
D. Ring 4m in width. Blocks of lava, rock salt, and coral-like terrains EEE. Volcanic mountains, up to 8m in height and valleys FFF. Antarctic Ocean with islands

SOUTH POLAR REGION _and_ HILI-LI LAND.]

“Now move this way with your chair, and look at this map. And in the first place, I will tell you that at the South Pole–probably not precisely at the pole, but certainly within the sixth of a degree of it–is a circular surface of absolutely white-hot, boiling lava, about fifteen miles in diameter. This surface was, in ages past, as indicated by surroundings, many times its present surface extent–say from seventy to seventy-five miles across. No doubt the surface of the earth at the Antarctic Pole had once cooled, and later become covered with water, though with very shallow water–probably at some points by none, at others by a depth of ten or fifteen feet. From some cause–and many causes might be imagined–this earth-and-water surface of say two hundred miles in circumference, sank into the interior of the earth, and the boiling lava came to the surface. We can scarcely conceive of the awful effect when the Antarctic Sea poured over the circumference of this mass of boiling earth and metal.

“Now it must be considered that this boiling lava was not merely a great surface of white-hot matter, in which case it would, relatively speaking, soon have cooled. To flood its edges with an overflow of ten feet of water would be comparable to running a film of water a hundredth of an inch in depth over the top of a red-hot stove in which a large fire continues to burn and constantly to renew the heat on its surface. This surface of boiling lava must have had a practically limitless depth, and the water which poured over it must have evaporated instantly. After thinking the matter over, with the _data_ which I have well in view, I concluded that it required about two hundred years for the water to reach the limit which it finally attained as water _en masse_. A little thought on the subject has shown me that Peters is telling the truth, because his description, to my mind, harmonizes with the laws of physics. One of the earliest phenomena presented by this condition, was that so much sea-water evaporated, and evaporated so rapidly, that masses of rock-salt formed, creating a partial barrier to the inroads of the sea–I say a partial barrier, because the deliquescence of salt would cause it to be the poorest of all barriers to water. Still, we must remember that the immediately surrounding water must have reached, so far as salt is concerned, the saturation point, and would have been a very slow solvent of hard rock-salt in enormous masses and several miles in extent. Then, two other conditions soon arose: First, the warm surrounding water permitted a coral-like development, as shown by present appearances, and second, volcanic action began.

“Now look at my map. This inner circle represents the present area of boiling lava, which, as I have said, is about fifteen miles in diameter–the South Pole, according to the natives, being at about the point corresponding to this dot, marked ‘a.’ The ring next without the circle I have made to represent a zone of lava which is at its inner edge white-hot, and at its outer edge red-hot, its width, let us say, as the division is arbitrary, about four miles. The second circle represents a zone of lava which is dull red at its inner edge, and black, but hot, at its outer. Of course the lava blends away from white-hot within, to barely warm without; but I thus map it, the better to picture reigning conditions. The next circle, some four or five miles in width, represents a ring of cold lava-blocks, masses of rock-salt, and animalculine remains, from twenty-five to two hundred feet high. Outside of this last-mentioned zone, we have several rings of volcanic mountains with intervening valleys, and many active craters at the summit of mountains; while on the mountain-sides lie numerous masses of rock-salt, thrown from below by eruptive action, glistening in the brilliant volcanic light, and slowly deliquescing. This zone of mountains and valleys is from ten to twenty miles in width, and whilst in the main its mountains are not more than from half a mile to a mile high, it contains peaks of five or six miles in height, and there is one peak which rises nine miles above the sea-level.

“I want you to look particularly at these larger mountain-ranges, one at the right, the other at the left side of my map–each of which as it stretches out into the sea divides into two smaller chains. Upon these ranges, and the comparatively diminutive height of the intervening mountains, in connection with the fact that there is a constant wind-current from the lower Pacific (generally speaking, from the west of longitude 74 W.), depends the habitability of this large island, the Island of Hili-li (here represented in about longitude 75 E.), and many other islands which stretch out in the same direction from this enormous active surface-crater. I say that upon such conditions depends the habitability of these islands, and so I believe; but there is another cause for their greater than tropical warmth: If you will glance here on the right of this map, in the midst of the mountain zone you will see represented a bay, which, winding among mountains, makes its way very close to the zone of hot lava–in fact, is divided from it by little more than the ring of lava-blocks, rock-salt, and animal remains, which at this point is narrowed to a width of about two miles. The temperature of the water of this bay at its inner extremity is probably about 180 F.–say 32 below the boiling-point of distilled water; and it flows in a steady current past the Island of Hili-li. This bay is undoubtedly fed from the opposite side of the great crater, and its supply flows for miles in contact with hot lava. It is probable that this extremely warm water current greatly assists the hot-air current in creating the super-tropical climate of Hili-li.

“And now, as I have in part satisfied your curiosity, and as I am somewhat exhausted with my two days’ and nights’ experience with Peters, I know you will permit me to rest at so suitable a stopping-point. To-morrow evening I will take up the story of Dirk Peters where it joins the sudden break in Pym’s journal, and will carry you along to the time when the inhabitants of Hili-li thought that the atmosphere of some other land would be more conducive to Peters’ longevity and health, as well as to their own tranquillity. And I assure your Sultanship, that the story I shall relate to you to-morrow night will be more interesting than the dry physical facts which I have this evening imparted, and which it seemed best that you should know before hearing in consecutive detail the particulars of Peters’ voyage.”

I assented to his suggestions, thanking him for the clear description which he had given of that strange region, and for the pains he had taken to draft of it so accurate a map–which map he allowed me to retain. I was about to ask a question, when the door opened, and Doctor Castleton rushed into the room.

“Well, how’s the old man?” he asked.

We described Peters’ condition; and I even recounted a few of the facts which Bainbridge had just imparted to me. Then I asked the question which Castleton’s abrupt entry had delayed.

“But,” I asked, “has not Peters’ imagination, owing to the administration of drugs, been unnaturally stimulated? There are drugs which it is commonly believed may have a wonderful effect in stimulating the imagination to flights of marvellous grandeur.”

“No,” said Bainbridge. “The doctor here will say the same. No drug on earth could produce even an approach to such an effect.”

“Certainly not,” said Castleton. “The mass of laymen are not only ignorant–excuse me, sir, but I know you want the facts–not only ignorant, but extremely and persistently ignorant on this subject. I have heard it said that Byron drank twelve–or perhaps twenty–bottles of wine the night he wrote ‘The Corsair.’ If he did, he simply wrote ‘The Corsair’ in spite of the wine. I have heard it stated that Poe was intoxicated when he wrote ‘The Raven’–which is not only an untrue statement but one that could not possibly be true, and which certainly every man who ever attempted to write under the influence of an alcoholic stimulant knows to be false. Drugs–including alcohol–which are supposed to stimulate what we might term a rational imagination, only stimulate an irrational fancy. They seem to the person affected to cause a play of imagination, but they really produce only a state of nervous action which causes their subject to feel appreciation of otherwise trifling mental pictures that in themselves are flimsy nothings. Let a man so affected try to impart to another his fancies, and–well, who has not been bored by a drunken man? Did De Quincey, with that superb mind, succeed in fancying anything that even he could tell? He speaks of glowing drug-born fancies, but he describes nothings. Now Milton, the old Puritan–the cold-water man–he had fancies which he was able to transmit, and which are worthy to be forever treasured. The early Greeks were exceedingly temperate, and the men who composed the ‘Nostoi’ were not drunkards–Homer sang the ‘Iliad’ and the ‘Odyssey’ with a sober tongue, and a sober brain back of his utterances. The man who gets drunk to write poetry, will find it easier to write his poetry on the following morning, spite of headache, blue-devils, and all.” He paused for a moment; and then this peculiar man continued:

“And I know! Why, sir, I have drunk barrels of whiskey–barrels of the stuff. I have seen whiskey-snakes in squirming masses three feet deep. I have gone into a parlor, and had a lady say when she saw me fumbling in my pockets: ‘Doctor, your handkerchief is in your back pocket.’ Bless her! I was only putting back into my pockets the jim-jam snake-heads as the snakes _would_ try to emerge! I pity a weak devil that goes home and to bed because of a mild attack of delirium tremens. I brush the vipers away with a sweep of my hand, and go about my business. But I myself draw the line at roosters. A man who may laugh at snakes will quail before roosters. A fellow may shut his eyes to snakes, but he can’t shut his ears to roosters. Well, well: it’s all in a life-time. But, believe me, no good poetry, either in verse or in prose, is drunkenman poetry.”

With which final remark he shot out of the room. Then Doctor Bainbridge took his departure, and I retired to sleep and to dream of fiery craters, with snakes crawling out of them, and gigantic roosters picking up the snakes one by one and dropping them over a mountain of salt into a lake of boiling water. I was pleased when morning came, and I heard the comparatively cheering tinkle from bells on the team of mules drawing the little “bob-tail” street-car past the hotel.

The ELEVENTH Chapter

On the following evening Bainbridge came to my room as he had promised, arriving at about eight o’clock. I had not that day accompanied him on his visit to Peters, who it seems was daily gaining strength. I had spent my day in reading, except that Arthur had repeatedly come to my room, remaining for fifteen or twenty minutes at a time as his duties would permit, being curious to learn from me “some of the things about that ante-arctic country,” etc. He was much interested in the subject, and studied with close attention the map made by Doctor Bainbridge. Arthur had asked permission to be present when the doctor should come in the evening, but I thought better to deny him that privilege. Doctor Bainbridge was taking the matter seriously, and I knew Arthur too well to expect from him a decorous reticence at any time. I could imagine the effect on Bainbridge as he closed some glowing description, should Arthur jump up with a remark about “ante-arctic niggers,” or “gee whallopin big females.” I had occasion later to know that my caution was most judicious, and to condemn myself for a want of firmness in maintaining so sensible a decision.

Doctor Bainbridge, without unnecessary delay or preliminary remark, began the relation of Peters’ adventures at the point indicated by him the evening before as the proper place of commencement.

“The great white curtain you have no doubt already surmised to be a clear-cut line of dense fog, due to the fact that a perpendicular plane of extremely cold air in that situation cuts through an atmosphere which, on both sides of this sheet of frigid air, is exceedingly warm, and laden with moisture to the saturation-point. This curtain of fog is so thin that sudden gusts of wind, upon either of its surfaces, drive it aside much as a double curtain is thrown on either side by the arms of a person passing between. It was through such an opening that Pym and Peters rushed, on a cross-current of warm water which was carrying them along. The figure of a large, pure-white woman, into whose arms their half-delirious fancies pictured them as rushing, was simply a large statue of spotless marble, which stands at the entrance of the bay of Hili-li. The ash-like material which for days had rained upon them and into the ocean around them, was no longer seen. It proved to have been a peculiar volcano dust or crater ash, which, carried into the upper air, fell at a distance–sometimes directly on Hili-li; but rarely so close as within eighty or ninety miles of the central fire.

“They had scarcely passed the white fog-curtain when they were accosted by a gay party of young men and young women, numbering some eight or ten persons, in an elegant pleasure-boat. Pym and Peters being ignorant of the language of Hili-li land, and the Hili-lites being ignorant of the English tongue, it was of course impossible for them to hold converse beyond that permitted by signs. The pleasure party, however, saw at once that the two men were almost ready to expire from want of food and rest. The Hili-lites took them into their own spacious boat, and hastened to a landing-place in the suburbs of the capital and metropolis of the nation, Hili-li City. There they all disembarked, and the strangers were supported across a lawn, the grass of which was of the palest green–(so nearly white, in fact, that its greenness of tint would scarcely have been noticed but for the contrast afforded by many brilliant white flowers that appeared here and there amid the grass)–up to a palace, the equal of which, for size and beauty, neither of the Americans had before seen, though Pym was familiar with the external appearance of the finest residences in and about Boston, and also of those on the Hudson River just above New York; whilst Peters had been in most of the sea-coast cities of the habitable world.

“They were taken into this palace, were immediately escorted to the bath (which Peters declined to enter), were furnished with liquid nourishments, and were then allowed to sleep–which both of them did, uninterruptedly, for twenty-four hours. When they awoke they were furnished with new clothing of the best (the Hili-lites dressed something in the style of Louis XIV.), and then invited to a full repast. So well were they treated that in less than a week they felt quite as strong and otherwise natural as they had on leaving the harbor of Nantucket.

“So elegant and expressive, yet so simple was the language of Hili-li, that Pym could in two weeks understand and speak it sufficiently well for ordinary converse; whilst Peters was able to employ it sufficiently for his purposes, in about a month.

“The residents of the palace seemed to comprehend just about what had happened to the strangers. It appears that once or twice in a century strangers similar in general exterior to this pair had arrived in that region, generally in small boats, and on one occasion in a ship; but none of the strangers had desired to depart from a land so beautiful, to undertake a voyage both long and hazardous–none save the persons who had come in a ship nearly three centuries before–(you will recall what I told you of the small book that I read in the Astor Library). As there was little which the Hili-lites had any desire to learn from the strangers, there was not much to be said, anyway. Pym and Peters were permitted to roam at will, and many Hili-lites came to look at them. The palace in which they were permitted to reside belonged to a cousin of the king, so that no troublesome surveillance was inflicted upon these wrecked sailors–in fact, so completely isolated were the two, that no feelings except a mild degree of sympathy and curiosity were excited by their presence on the island. A small boat was at their disposal, and they soon almost daily took the liberty of rowing across the harbor to the wharf at the end of the main street of Hili-li, where they would disembark, and wander for hours around this strange old city, viewing in wonderment its beauties, its peculiarities, its mysteries.

“Hili-li is a city of from one to two hundred thousand people. But, oh, lovely beyond power of language to describe!–past all conception, and comparable alone with fancies such as float through the brain of poet-lover as he lies dreaming of his soul’s desire. I draw my conclusions from Peters’ state of mind when he attempts to describe this strange city, rather than from what he says; and also from some of Pym’s remarks on the subject, which Peters was able to repeat. In your imagination, compass within an area two miles in diameter the choicest beauties of ancient Greece and Egypt, Rome and Persia; then brighten them with natural surrounding scenery such as Homer and Dante and Milton might have dreamed of–and you may feel a little of what Pym and Peters felt when first they saw this glorious island. In ancient Greece a true democrat would have been displeased with the extreme discrepancy between the grandeur of public buildings, and the poverty of private dwellings; but in Hili-li these two bore a perfectly just relationship of elegance, each in its way being perfect.

“Yet mere inanimate beauties were the least of all. Even Peters, old and dying–never a man to whom art spoke in more than whispers–even he was aroused from the arms of death when he spoke of the women of Hili-li. ‘Were they blondes?’ I asked him. ‘No.’ ‘Were they brunettes?’ ‘No.’ They were simply entrancing–never to be forgotten. Each and everyone of them, like Helen, won by her mere presence the adoration of man. And the men–even they must have been superb–were types of perfect manly elegance.

“I spent many hours in trying to draw from Peters facts which I might put together and so become competent to explain the perfection, physical and mental–for they possessed both of these charms–of the Hili-lites. And after combining what Peters could describe, and what he could recall of Pym’s sayings, with a statement or two of the natives that clings in the old man’s memory, I formed what I am able to assure you is a reliable opinion of the origin of the Hili-lite race:

“At about the most trying period of the barbarian invasion of Southern Europe–certainly preceding the foundation of Venice, and I think in the fourth century–when the enlightened peoples of the Mediterranean were fleeing hither and thither like rats in a burning house from which but few escape–during this fearful time, a number of men with their families and a few slaves, took advantage of a momentary lull in the terrors of the period, to save themselves. They purchased a number of vessels, and loading each with tools, seeds, animals, valued manuscripts, and all that they possessed worth moving, started to seek a land in which they might colonize, there in time to found a new empire beyond the reach of all barbarians. They passed out of the Mediterranean and down the west coast of Africa. Fortunately they had thoroughly anticipated storms and wrecks, and each vessel was loaded in such a manner as to be independent of the others. When well on their way, one of those rare, prolonged storms from the north came on, and the vessels were soon driven far from land, and separated, each from all the others. One of these vessels managed to outlive the terrific storm, which lasted for thirty days; and when the winds abated, the hundred or more men, women, children, and slaves, found themselves among the islands of what now is named Hili-liland. There they settled–there, where nature furnishes, without labor, light and heat the year round, and vegetation is literally perpetual. They met with none of the initial difficulties of primitive peoples. They were educated, and they possessed the treasures of knowledge born of a thousand years of Roman supremacy; from the beginning they had that other priceless treasure, leisure–that real essential of perfect culture; they had for the first five hundred years no human enemy to contend with, and even then with the merest weaklings–weaklings in the hands of a people at that period very strong; for by that time the Hili-lites must have numbered a million souls, or almost as many as they now are. But of all that they possessed, the rest would have been comparatively little had they not retained in lasting memory the lesson of Rome’s downfall–the price a people is compelled to pay for prolonged and unbroken luxurious indolence. This lesson of the downfall of Rome they never forgot; and to-day, with all their beauty and refinement, physical and mental effeminacy is left solely to the women. True, it requires from each inhabitant but a few hours of labor in the year to supply all purely physical material wants; but, beginning with the year of the settlement of Hili-li, up to the present time, the wealthiest in the land has performed his share of physical labor quite as conscientiously as has the poorest. Then with them, a man or woman is educated up to the time of death. The children are taught as with us, and the young men, and the young women, too, take a college course. But after the college course, they go on with their study. A great jurist at forty, or for that matter at seventy, concludes to make an exhaustive study of astronomy–or, if earlier in life he has exhausted all desire to know the facts of astronomy, he perhaps begins a study of anatomy–or whatever it may happen to please his fancy to investigate. The Hili-lites claim that in this way those who live to seventy or eighty acquire a fairly good general education, but of this I have my doubts. After the age of twenty, a man does not devote more than two hours a day to new branches of learning; but two hours a day is sufficient time, if well employed, to keep his mind always young and vigorous; and it has been shown by this people that a person under such a system retains more of the buoyancy and freshness of youth at eighty than do we in Europe and America at the age of fifty.

“In Hili-liland the people have gone much farther than we in the development of the purely reasoning faculties–in fact, they have gone so far that they now ignore reason almost completely, having carried its development to a finality, and found it comparatively worthless in the practical affairs of life. They claim–and seem by their lives to prove–that, practically, society is happier and more moral when it exists without any pretence that it is controlled by anything else than by feeling–that is, as a matter of course, by properly educated feeling. Hili-li is a kingdom, but its people must, from what I can learn, have as pure and perfect a constitutional liberty as it is possible for mankind to enjoy–not liberty as the accident of a royal whim, but such a perfect liberty as the people of England are approaching, and in which by another century they will be able to indulge themselves. They claim that as liberty does not mean license, so government of self by feeling and not by reason need not mean license–and never will mean license when correctly understood and properly directed–and yet that such government alone brings complete happiness. This putting aside and dwarfing of the reasoning faculty seems to have resulted in an intuitional state of mind. Peters says that the Hili-lites always seemed to know what he was thinking about, and were always able to anticipate and thwart his acts when they so desired.

“As I was able to gain from Peters in so brief a time a very limited range of fact from which to make correct deductions of importance, I did not expend much of that valuable time in seeking for descriptions of buildings; but I did learn sufficient in that direction to satisfy me that, to the fund of architectural knowledge brought by the ancestors of this people from Europe, they had, during the centuries, added much that is new and valuable, even sublime and truly marvellous.

“But even here in this paradise on earth, there is a criminal class–not very terrible, but, legally, a criminal class. It seems that a portion of the old, restless, warrior-spirit must have trickled along in obscure by-ways of the sanguineous system of many of these people, for among the youths of each generation several thousand out of the whole population (residing on a hundred islands, large and small), would, despite every effort of their elders, become unmanageable. These–after each young man had been given two or three opportunities to reform, and in the end been judged incorrigible–were banished to the mountain-ranges which surround the great active surface-crater already described, and which are from thirty to eighty miles distant from the Capital of Hili-li. There they might either freeze or roast, as taste should dictate.

“To-morrow evening,” concluded Bainbridge, “I shall relate some particulars in the lives of Pym and Peters in Hili-liland. The purely personal experiences of these two adventurers I should ignore, were it not that they take us into the region of the wonderful crater and its peculiar surrounding mountains and valleys, where we shall see nature in one of the strangest of her many strange guises.” Then, after a second’s pause:

“Do you accompany me to see the poor old fellow, tomorrow?”

I promised that I would; and we agreed upon two o’clock as the time for starting. Five minutes later Doctor Bainbridge arose, and saying good-night, left me until the morrow.

The TWELFTH Chapter

The next evening at the appointed hour Doctor Bainbridge came in. I had not been able to accompany him in his daily visit to Peters. As Bainbridge took his seat he said a few words concerning the old sailor, who, to the surprise, I think, of both physicians, appeared to be recovering. They hoped for scarcely more than a temporary improvement, but a little longer life for the poor old man seemed now assured.

Doctor Bainbridge glanced at the map of Hili-li, which I had spread out on the table, and began:

“In the ducal palace,” said he, “in which through the kindness of the younger members of the household, Pym and Peters were permitted to reside–at first only in the servants’ quarters–the servants, however, being, at least in social manners, equal to the strangers–there were, besides the immediate family of the duke, many more or less close family connections. Among these was a young woman, corresponding in her period of life to New England women in their twentieth or twenty-first year, but really in her sixteenth year. Now I should imagine from the actions of that old sea-dog, Peters, lying there in his seventy-eighth or seventy-ninth year, and forty-nine years after he last set eyes on the young woman, that she must have been the loveliest being in a land of exceeding loveliness. Her eyes, the old man says, were in general like a tropical sky in a dead calm, but on occasions they resembled a tropical sky in a thunder-storm. She had one of those broad faces in which the cheeks stand out roundly, supporting in merriment a hundred changing forms, and laughing dimples enough to steal a heart of adamant–the loveliest face, when it is lovely, in all the world. Her hair was golden, but of the very lightest of pure gold–a golden white; and when in the extreme warmth of her island home she sat amid the trees, and it was allowed to fall away in rippling waves–to what then am I to liken it? It was transcendently beautiful. I think that I can feel its appearance. It must have looked like the sun’s shimmer on the sea-foam from which rose Aphrodite; or like the glint from Cupid’s golden arrow-heads as, later, sitting by the side of Aphrodite, he floated along the shores of queenly Hellas, in gleeful mischief shooting landward and piercing many a heart. Ah, love in youth! The cold reasoning world shall never take away that charm; and when the years shall cover with senile snows those who have felt it, then Intuition and not Reason shall give Faith to them as the only substitute for glories that have faded and gone.

“But the form of this lovely being–what shall I say of her form! Here I pause. When Peters, at my urgent solicitation, attempted to describe it, he simply gurgled away into one of his spells of delirium. It was no use to try–though I did, again and again, try to draw from the old man something definite. It seems that she was so rounded and so proportioned as to meet every artistic demand, and to divert even from her beautiful face the glance of her enraptured beholders. If we are to gain an approximate idea of a figure so perfect, we must try to conceive what might be the result of a supreme effort of nature to show by comparison to the most artistic of her people just what puling infants they were in their attempts to create forms of true beauty from marble.

“Her name was Lilama.

“It appears that young Pym was at this time a handsome fellow, almost six feet tall; and in his attire, of which I have spoken as resembling in many respects that of the court _habitues_ of Louis XIV, he was indeed a fine example of natural and artificial beauty combined. And then, he had suffered! Need I say more? What heart of maiden would not have softened to this stranger youth?

“Well, these two loved. From what Peters tells me, the episode of Romeo and Juliet sinks into insignificance by the side of the story of their love. With leisure and with opportunity to love, for several months these young people enjoyed an earthly heaven which it is rarely indeed the lot of a young couple to enjoy. But alas! and alas! True as in the days when moonlight fell amid the palaces of Babylon and Nineveh is the old poetic expression–its truth older than Shakespeare, older than historic man–that ‘The course of true love never did run smooth.’

“It seems that among the so-called criminal exiles to the Volcanic Mountains was a young man of good family, who had known–and of course loved–Lilama. And I will say in passing that the youths who comprised this class would, the larger part of them, never have been exiles, if Hili-li had required a standing army, or had even not forbidden by law the more rough and dangerous games to be played–I allude to some very rough sports and pastimes, in which bones were frequently broken–games which these youths and preceding generations of youths had initiated and developed. But there was in Hili-li, aside from boating, no allowable means for the gratification of that desire to contend with danger which is inherent in manly youths the world over. Hence these young men were by their very nature compelled to violate laws thus unnatural, and, as generally happens, in doing so they went to extremes. The young Hili-lite to whom I have alluded had been for more than a year with the exiles. His name was Ahpilus. Lilama did not reciprocate his love. She had known him from infancy, and for her there was no romance in poor Ahpilus. But the young Hili-lite was madly infatuated with her, and it seems by later developments that his enforced absence from her had driven him almost, if not wholly, insane.

“Thus stood matters about three months after the arrival in Hili-li of the Americans. It will be remembered that, according to Poe’s account, Pym and Peters passed through the ‘great white curtain’ on March 22d. Peters says that this statement is probably correct. That date corresponds to their autumnal equinox–about. Three months later corresponds to our summer solstice–their midwinter. By the latter time, and for weeks before, the antarctic sun never rose above the horizon. But this season was in Hili-li the most beautiful and enjoyable period of the year. The open crater of almost pure white boiling lava which I have described, and which presented a surface of the most brilliant light, covering an area of more than 150 square miles, was amply sufficient to light islands from 45 to 75 miles distant. Hili-li received some direct light from a hundred or more volcanic fires–two within its own shores; but by far the greater illumination came from the reflected light of the great central lake of boiling lava. The sky, constantly filled with a circle of high-floating clouds formed of volcanic dust, the circumference of which blended away beyond the horizon, but in the centre of which, covering a space the diameter of which was about thirty miles, was a circle of light of about the same brilliancy as that of the moon, but in appearance thousands of times larger. From this overhanging cloud (the City of Hili-li lay under a part of its circumference) came during the antarctic winter a mild and beautiful light, whiter than moonlight, and lighting the island to many times the brilliancy of the brightest moonlight, though quite subdued in comparison with that which would have been derived from the sun if directly in the zenith. Peters says that the illumination in Hili-li at its midwinter was about as intense as with us on a densely cloudy day; the light not, however, being grayish, but of a pure white, now and again briefly tinted with orange, green, red, blue, and shades of other colors, caused by local and temporary outbursts of those colors in the enormous crater fires.

“I will digress for a moment longer from the relation of those occurrences which developed out of Pym’s love affair, to say a word concerning some of the physical effects of this artificial light, and to explain certain facts related by Poe in his narrative of the earlier adventures of our younger hero–I say of our younger hero, because I cannot determine in my own mind which of the two, Pym or Peters, deserves to be called the hero of their strange adventures.

“On the island of Hili-li the mean summer temperature was about 12 deg. or 13 deg. Fahrenheit higher than that of winter. The almost steady temperature of the island in winter was 93 deg. F.–occasionally dropping two or three degrees, and, very rarely, rising one or two degrees. The extremes in temperature during the year were caused by the sun’s relative position–constant sunlight in summer, and its complete absence in winter. Each year, by December–the south-polar midsummer month–vegetation has become colored; and its delicacy yet brilliancy of tintage is then very beautiful, and varied beyond that of perhaps any other spot in the world. Peters has travelled over much of the tropics and subtropics, and he says that only in Florida has he seen anything to compare with the beauty of Hili-li vegetation in October and November. I should imagine from what he says that the coloring of vegetation is in great part the merest tintage, the large admixture of white giving to it a startling luminosity, and permitting the fullest effect of those neutral tints which are capable of combinations at once so restful and so pleasing to the refined eye. In the vegetation of Florida there is luminosity; but chromatic depth, as in most tropical coloring, is the chief characteristic of its visual effect. To hear Peters talk of the flowers of Hili-li, almost half a century after he himself viewed them, is a sympathetic treat to my sense of color. But for strangeness–and it was not without its element of beauty, too–the vegetable growth of July and August in that peculiar land must exceed anything else of the kind known to man. Think for a moment of the effect on vegetable growth of warmth and moisture, a rich soil, and the complete absence of sunlight! From the middle of their winter to its close, though vegetation is luxuriant, it is colorless; that is to say, it is apparently of a pure white, though, on comparison, the faintest shades of hue are discernible–a very light gray and a cream color prevailing. The peculiar grass of Hili-li, probably not indigenous yet certainly different in form from any other grass, is very tender and very luxuriant, but, even in their summer months, has a pale, almost hueless though luminous green; whilst in winter it is almost white. Many flowers bloom in the winter, but they differ one from another only in form and in odor–they are all quite hueless. And this effect of artificial heat in connection with absence of sunlight has a similar effect on animal life, the plumage of the birds being a pure white. But in the appearance of animals the summer sun does not produce much change–in that of birds, none whatever.

“This brings me to the point in Peters’ story at which I may most naturally explain certain of Poe’s statements–or, rather, of A. Gordon Pym’s statements–which have caused more comment than any other part of the narrative. Hand me your Poe, please.–Here now: Poe says, quoting from Pym’s diary:

“‘On the seventeenth [of February, 1828], we set out with the determination of examining more thoroughly the chasm of black granite into which we had made our way in the first search’ (this, you will recall, was on the last island upon which they set foot before being driven by winds and ocean currents farther south. They were then in hiding from the barbarians of that island, and were only a few hundred miles from the South Pole). ‘We remembered that one of the fissures in the sides of this pit had been partially looked into, and we were anxious to explore it, although with no expectation of discovering here any opening. We found no great difficulty in reaching the bottom of the hollow as before, and were now sufficiently calm to survey it with some attention. It was, indeed, one of the most singular-looking places imaginable, and we could scarcely bring ourselves to believe it altogether the work of nature.’ He proceeds to explain that the sides of the abyss had apparently never been connected, one surface being of soapstone, the other of black marl. The average breadth between the two cliffs was sixty feet. Here are Pym’s own words again: ‘Upon arriving within fifty feet of the bottom [of the abyss], a perfect regularity commenced. The sides were now entirely uniform in substance, in color and in lateral direction, the material being a very black and shining granite, and the distance between the two sides, at all points, facing each other, exactly twenty yards.’ The diary goes on to state that they explored three chasms, and that in a fissure of the third of these Peters discovered some ‘singular-looking indentures in the surface of the black marl forming the termination of the cul-de-sac.’ It is surmised by Pym and Peters that the first of these indentures is possibly the intentional representation of a human figure standing erect, with outstretched arm; and that the rest of them bore a resemblance to alphabetical characters–such, at least, it seems from Pym’s diary, was the ‘idle opinion’ of Peters.

[Footnote: See Narrative of A. Gordon Pym, in any complete edition of Poe’s Works.]

“Pym later had a clew to the meaning of these characters, and no doubt recorded the facts in a later diary, many of the pages of which Poe never saw. But if Pym and Peters had analyzed more closely the indentures, they might have gained at least the shadow of an idea of the meaning of these representations. Pym made a copy of them, as you know, and Poe here gives us a fac-simile of that copy in his Narrative. Peters now knows in a general way of what these indentures were significant, and I will in a moment explain to you their general meaning; but first look at this fac-simile.”

I drew up my chair to the side of Doctor Bainbridge, and together we looked at the representation of these indentures which Poe has furnished us. Bainbridge continued:

“Now look at this first figure, which Pym says ‘might have been taken for the intentional, though rude, representation of a human figure standing erect, with outstretched arm.’ The arm, observe, is here–the arm and forearm, to my mind, separated; and directly above and parallel with the arm is an arrow; and if we trace out the points of the compass as described in the diary, we find that the arm is pointing to the south, the arrow is pointing to the north; or in other words, the arm points to Hili-li; the arrow, by inference, back to the island on which the indentures exist. Now among most savages the arrow, as a symbol, represents war–a fight–individual or even tribal death.

“Many centuries preceding the time at which Pym and Peters stood examining the indentures in the black marl, and at least five centuries after the foundation of Hili-li, the natives of that zone of islands almost surrounding the South Pole at a distance of from three hundred to seven hundred miles, were affected by one of those waves of feeling which perhaps once in a thousand or several thousand years sweeps aside all the common inclinations of a people, and for some reason which lies buried in unfathomable mystery moves them to a concerted action not only unknown in the past of those who participate in it, but, so far as can be conceived, also unknown to the ancestors of the actors. Such a wave of impulse, when it comes, seems to affect all the individuals of every division of a race. In the example to which I am alluding, the impulse seemed spontaneously to move the inhabitants of islands far apart, and apparently not in communication–certainly not in direct communication. With the singleness of purpose and uniformity of action seen in an army under command of a leader, the natives of a hundred antarctic islands swarmed into ten thousand fragile boats, and directed their course toward the south. Why toward the south? Did instinct tell them that by such a course the various bands would converge to a union? They knew not. The first few boats arrived at Hili-li. Nine of every ten of those that began the journey were lost–but still, boats continued to arrive at the islands of the Hili-li group. Then, and after five hundred years of peace, the Hili-lites saw that they were to be overrun by barbarians, as their history told them their ancestors had once, in distant lands, been overrun. The Hili-lites did not have formidable weapons; but fortunately those of the invaders were scarcely more efficient. The conflict came to a hand to hand engagement. The invaders could not return, even had they so desired; so they must fight and win, or die. The Hili-lites had no place of retreat, even had they been willing to flee; and they too must fight and win, or die. The invaders numbered more than a hundred thousand men; the Hili-lites, about forty thousand that were able to fight in such a battle. The latter armed themselves with clubs about four feet long, one inch in diameter at the handle, two inches in diameter at the farther extremity, and made of a wood similar to the dense tropical lignum-vitae (almost an inconceivable growth in that comparatively sunless region); and, for additional weapons, behind natural and artificial barriers they heaped piles of lava-blocks, sharp, jagged, and weighing each from one to five pounds. The invaders had a few very flimsy bows, scarcely six arrows to each bow–and nothing else in the way of weapons. From all sides, on came the invaders in their frail boats, in one mad rush upon the main island of Hili-li, where the Hili-lites had, including their women, children, and aged men, gathered.

“The invaders were ill-fed, tired out by a sea-voyage exhausting almost past comprehension, ignorant, almost weaponless, and making a charge in small boats; whilst for them the favorable elements in the coming battle were that they possessed five men for each two of the defenders, and were impelled by a mad, instinctive impulse to advance, similar to that of a swarm of migratory locusts, which advances even through fire, and though it require the charred bodies of ninety-nine thousand of their number over which the remaining thousand may cross. The Hili-lites were well-fed, not fatigued, intelligent, comparatively well-armed, and were on land, prepared for the battle; whilst they possessed also the inherited Roman spirit, once lost by their ancestors, but by the descendants recovered amid new and pure surroundings.

“Before a landing could be made, half the invaders, in the confusion incident to a bombardment with lava-blocks, were thrown from their boats and drowned, or knocked on the head as they swam ashore. Of the other half, a third were killed as they attempted to land, and another third within five minutes after they reached the shore. Then the remaining fifteen thousand or more rushed back to their boats, only to find them sunk in the shallow water near the shore–it having been quite easy for eight or ten Hili-lites to sink each boat, by bearing in unison their weight on one gunwale–a thousand or two young Hili-lites having been assigned to that duty. Then the poor wretches who remained threw down their flimsy bows, and fell face-downward on the ground, at the feet of the victors. Under the circumstances, what could so noble a people as were the Hili-lites do? They could not slaughter in cold blood nearly twenty thousand trembling human creatures. So it was finally decided to build a thousand large-sized row-boats, and it being the best time of the year for that purpose, take them back to their own islands. This was done. But in punishment for their offence, and as a constant reminder of the existence of the Hili-lites–(who, as these savages knew, had destroyed more than eighty thousand of their number, with a loss of only twelve of their own killed, and thirty-seven seriously wounded–which fact, by the bye, Peters says is inscribed on a monument in the City of Hili-li, as well as recorded in the official history of the Hili-lites)–as a constant reminder, I say, of a people so powerful, they were ordered never, on any island in their group, to display any object of a white color–the national color of the Hili-lites. So strict and inclusive was this command, that the natives were ordered to take each of their descendants as soon as his teeth appeared, and color them with an indelible, metallic blue-black dye, repeating the operation every year up to ten, and thereafter once in five years. The command closed with the statement that the natives would be allowed to retain the whites of their eyes, but only for the reason that, as they looked at each other they would there, and only there, see the national color of Hili-li, and so have always in mind the promise of the victors, that if another descent on Hili-li were ever attempted, no single native–man, woman, or child–would be allowed to live. In addition to this, the Hili-lites engraved on a number of suitable rocks on each island an inscription, briefly recording a reminder of the terrible results of this attempt at conquest, heading each inscription with the rude representation of a man with arm extended to the south, over which and parallel with which was placed an arrow pointing to the north–meaning, ‘There is the direction in which a certain foolish people may go to find quick death: from there comes war and extermination!’

“So effective were the means employed by the Hili-lites to prevent future raids, that, though the inhabitants of these islands had again increased, probably to a million or more, no second invasion had ever been attempted by even the strongest and bravest of their savage chiefs.”

“Well,” I said, as Bainbridge paused, and seemed to be thinking just what to say next, “what of the beautiful Lilama and the infatuated Ahpilus? I hope poor Pym is not to have so charming a love-feast broken into by any untoward event. I must say, Bainbridge, those Hili-lites were wonderfully careless of their loveliest women–of a beautiful girl of sixteen, and so close to royalty itself.”

“Well, my cold-blooded friend, what will you say when I tell you that Lilama was an orphan, and had inherited from her father the only island in the archipelago upon which precious stones were found, and that even in that strange land she was wealthier than the king? Had she been able to get the products of her islands into the markets of the world, she would have been wealthier than Croesus, the Count of Monte Cristo and the Rothschilds, all combined. However, in Hili-li, wealth was not–well, not an all-powerful factor; important, but not having the power which in the remainder of the civilized world it possesses. To have power, money must be able to purchase human labor or its products, as only by human power is all other force utilized. In Hili-li, a citizen possessed everything that he required for his ordinary wants, and it was almost impossible to purchase the leisure time of any man. It was possible on certain conditions to procure human labor, but it was extremely difficult to do so. Then, for seven or eight hundred years slavery had been prohibited in the land, all existing slaves having been emancipated–after which, in the course of a few generations, Hili-lian history says, the slaves and the slave-spirit were lost in the mass of the population.

“In thinking over the position of Lilama and Pym, you must consider that the older members of the family would probably not soon hear of such a thing as love between these two, and, even when they did hear of it, would have little doubt of being able to ‘control the situation’ as they should please. Then, with the ideas possessed by the Hili-lites, there would not arise any very serious objection to a union by marriage of Lilama and young Pym. The Hili-lites believed the feelings to be a guide to true happiness; and whilst they would certainly have controlled the circumstances leading up to the seemingly unwise marriage of a girl of sixteen–for they believed also in a proper education of the feelings–they would not have prevented even a seemingly unwise marriage, provided the feelings of those concerned loudly demanded such a union–I mean that if in _reason_ such a marriage should seem unwise–But enough. The hour is late, and I shall not before to-morrow evening at eight o’clock begin a description of the exciting scenes through which the beautiful Lilama was so soon to pass, and the adventures of Pym and Peters–adventures so terrible that for centuries to come they will descend, a thrilling romance, from generation to generation, in those usually quiet and peaceful islands.”

And then, against my protest, he took his departure.

The THIRTEENTH Chapter

The following morning, after leaving the hotel on some trifling errand, I returned to find Arthur awaiting me. He stood by my table, and occupied himself in turning the leaves of one of my books. He was looking with much interest at a picture in a work on paleontology, a book which by some chance had accompanied a few selected works that I had brought with me from England. The picture that so interested him, I saw as I drew nearer, represented the skeleton of a prehistoric mammoth with a man standing by its side, the latter figure placed in the picture, no doubt, for the purpose of showing relations of size. As I stepped up close to Arthur’s side, he turned a page in the book and disclosed a still more startling representation, that of a reconstructed mammoth, wool, long coarse hair, enormous tusks, and the rest. Arthur, with his usual curiosity, wanted to be told “all about it,” and I with my usual desire to teach the searcher after knowledge even of little things–though a mammoth is scarcely a “little thing”–briefly gave him some insight of the subject, running over the differences between the mastodontine and the elephantine mammoth; and then remarked to him, incidentally, that an American _mastodon giganteus_, found not far from where we stood, over in Missouri, a third of a century before, was now in our British Museum, where I had seen it. Of course Arthur had many questions to ask concerning the “gigantic-cus” which I had actually seen. I gave him, from memory, the best description possible, telling him that it was more than twenty feet in length, about ten feet high, and so on. He seemed very thoughtful for several moments, whilst I sat down to look at my morning paper. After somewhat of a pause, he asked permission to speak–for with all Arthur’s lack of cultivation he was not wanting in a sense of propriety, which he usually displayed in his relations with those whom he liked. I gave the desired permission, when he said,

“I just wanted to say, sir, that I wish’t you’d let me come up of an evenin’ and sit off in the corner there on that chair, and hear Doctor Bainbridge tell about Pym and Peters. I know you’ve been mighty good to tell me the most of it so far, but to-night he’ll tell how that beautiful female loves Pym, like you said early this morning he was goin’ to; and I’m awful anxious to hear soon. Something big’s goin’ to happen, and I pity the natives if they rouse up that orang-outang Peters. You said I would disturb the flowin’ of Doctor Bainbridge’s retorick by goin’ out and in. But I won’t go out. I just won’t go out; if the Boss don’t like it he can lump it–I can quit. Right down the street I can rent a little shop-room, and a feller and me has been talking of startin’ a ice-cream saloon for the summer–yes, I can quit if the Boss don’t like it. I work all day, and half the night; I can’t keep up my system with a single drink without there’s a kick a-coming; and now if I can’t have a little literature when it’s right in the house, it’s a pity. No: I’ll not interrup’ the retorick.”

Well, the end of it was, I gave my consent; and Arthur went off delighted. I mention these facts in explanation of my position. It has been said by one who ought to know, and the statement has been often enough quoted to evidence some general belief in its truth, that consistency is a jewel. I had said, that, during Doctor Bainbridge’s recitations of Dirk Peters’ story, Arthur should not be present; and now that he will be seen in a corner of my room evening after evening, I desire that the reader shall know all the circumstances.

That afternoon I accompanied Bainbridge on his visit to the aged sailor. I was pleased to see the old _lusus naturae_ sitting in a chair, and seemingly quite strong. Bainbridge made himself agreeable, delivered to Peters some small gifts of edibles, and then proceeded to ask a number of questions–I presume, from their nature, concerning _minutiae_ relating to the adventures under consideration. Then we returned to town, and separated.

Promptly at eight o’clock Bainbridge entered, and, as he took his customary seat, cast a glance at Arthur, who sat on a chair in the corner of the room.

“Well,” began Bainbridge, after a moment’s thought, “we were remarking that within our own knowledge and experience, true love has been exceedingly likely to meet with obstructions to its complete fruition:–and Lilama and Pym met with a similar experience in far-away Hili-li. Peters took a great interest in Pym’s love affair; in fact, he had grown almost to worship the young fellow whose life he had many times preserved, and who in less than a year had, under his eye, grown from a careless boy to a thoughtful man. Pym returned the liking of his old companion and benefactor; but Peters’ sentiment was one of infatuation, such as only those persons who are ‘close to nature’ seem capable of feeling in its fullest development. When the feeling of which I speak exists in its most intense form, it includes a devotion equal to that of the dog for its master: it is wholly instinctive, and not even the certainty that death stalks in the path between can keep it from its object.

“One morning early, there was excitement in the ducal palace. Lilama was missing. Search was diligently made. Pym was wild with excitement; and as the morning wore on Peters grew almost mad. (I shall speak of morning, afternoon, evening, and night. The degree of light in Hili-li did not now vary in the twenty-four hours; but it is necessary that I should in some manner divide the day, and our usual method seems the best.) The Duke himself arrived at about ten o’clock, by which time the search had ceased, and what to do next had become the question. The Duke appeared surprised at something, and spoke a few words to his son, a young man of twenty-two or twenty-three, by name Diregus, who thereupon looked slightly foolish, as one does who has made some puerile mistake. The Duke appeared to feel a real touch of pity for Pym, who sat dejected, a picture of intense anguish, now and then casting a beseeching look at the Duke–the only person who, to his mind, might be able to assist him to regain his sweetheart. The Duke again spoke to his son, who, turning to Pym, motioned him to accompany them. Then, followed by Peters, they walked down to the shore, and entered a boat.

“From the moment of starting, every movement of the Hili-lites seemed as if prearranged. It was a peculiarity of this people that a number of them acting together talked very little, each of the party appearing to know the wishes and intentions of the others, without a word spoken. And so was it on this occasion. Scarcely a word was uttered, and each seemed to comprehend the wishes of the others, mainly by glances and by semi-involuntary movements. In the present instance, father and son did not once glance at each other, yet the son was evidently aware of each wish of the father. They finally came to a landing, across the bay, in the suburbs of the city most distant from the locality in which stood the ducal palace. There, some four hundred feet from the shore, amid giant trees, in spacious and seemingly neglected grounds, stood a very large residence, evidently many centuries old, and of a style of architecture not seen by the Americans elsewhere in Hili-li. The building had an eerie look, and as the party drew near to it Peters observed that but one of its wings was inhabited, the remainder of the mansion being in a state of almost complete decay. They all entered by a side doorway into the inhabited wing. Pym and Peters were motioned to seats in the hallway, the Duke remarking, in hushed tones, ‘The home of Masusaelili,’ as he and Diregus passed through a broken and decaying doorway into apartments beyond. Soon Diregus returned, and, escorting Pym and Peters through several disordered rooms, finally paused before a large curtained doorway. Then Diregus spoke, but in a hushed voice, and with an awed solemnity that chilled his hearers through and through.

“‘Fear not,’ he said; ‘no harm will befall you. If the benign Fate is to smile–well; if the Furies are to rage, we can but bow to the Will that has held in its hand for countless cycles this petty planet–a grain in the wastes of Eternity. Come!’

“He passed through the doorway, and the two followed him. The room they entered was spacious–almost thirty feet square. It was crowded with strange devices, and was lighted by six colored swinging globes. A strange odor filled the atmosphere of the apartment. The room was brilliantly enough illuminated, though the light was variously colored and its shades and blendings were confusing; whilst the strange, intoxicating perfume also helped to perplex the senses. If the apartment had contained not more than several objects, the visitors might soon have detected and observed all of them; but, as it was, Pym and Peters stood gazing confusedly about them, momentarily beholding fresh objects, all of them strange, many of them bizarre, some of them frightful. It was apparently at the same instant of time that the sight of Pym and Peters fell upon an object so awesome that their hearts almost ceased to beat, and then bounded on with throbs that sent the cold blood leaping down their spines and to their scalps in chilling waves that ceased only when their terror reached the numbing stage. There before them, not six feet away, among great cubes of crystal, and vast retorts, and enormous vase-like objects on the floor, stood an aged man. How aged? He was old when the antarctic barbarians were slain, and their remnant sent back to its home on those dreary islands to live forever in blackness. None knew how old he was–they, the rulers, knew not; or if they did, on that subject they were silent. Some said that on the ship which brought the nucleus of their race from Rome, came Masusaelili with the others–an aged man, the oldest on the vessel. There he stood before the visitors, his white beard trailing on the tiling at his feet, his shrunken form erect. But, whence the terror? Three times ere I could learn this fact (and even then I learned it more by inference than by words) did Peters sink into delirium, muttering, ‘Oh, those eyes–the eyes of a god–of a god of gods.’ The aged man seated himself at a small Roman table, and, turning to the Duke without a question, said in a voice unlike any other voice in all the world–steady, but thin, high-pitched, sharp, penetrating and agitating depths within the hearer never reached before,

“‘You come for knowledge of The Lily. Behold!’

“He pointed to a cube of crystal near him, which, Peters will swear, was a moment earlier perfectly transparent. But now it looked as if filled with milk of purest whiteness. As they gazed at it, a fire appeared in the centre; and soon around the fire there sprang into being a circular range of mountains, and on the side of one of these–the nearest–stood two persons.

“‘Lilama–Ahpilus,’ screamed Diregus; ‘he has stolen her away!’

“Yes: for though Pym and Peters had never seen the exiled lover, they recognized Lilama; and even they could surmise the rest.

“‘The youth is mad,’ said the Duke. ‘We must rescue our darling from the maniac.’

“Pym, in his impatience, was about to rush from the room; but the old man beckoned for him to approach. He did as desired. Then the aged man placed a hand upon Pym’s head, and drew it down to him; and the man who had lived thousands of years whispered some words into the ear of the youth who had lived not yet four lustrums. As Peters described for me in his homely way the change that came over the face of Pym as that human millenarian spoke perhaps one hundred words into the young man’s ear, I was reminded of reading as a boy, some years ago, a description of the burning somewhere in South America of a great cathedral. The fire occurred during a morning service, and with the alarm the doorways of the building were at once obstructed by a mass of struggling humanity. Some two or three thousand persons were consumed in this terrible holocaust. The correspondent who wrote the description of the fire of which I speak said that for ten minutes he stood outside the cathedral after the surrounding heat had become so intense that efforts at rescue ceased, and from a raised spot he looked through the windows from which the glass had crumbled–looked across the great window-sills raised eight feet from the cathedral floor, looked into the faces of the doomed. And as he gazed, he saw the faces of many maidens with their lovers by their side–(it was a gala day, and all were in their best attire). As he looked, within a brief ten minutes he saw horror-stricken eyes gaze at the approaching fire, and at other victims sixty feet away already burning; then quickly would the fire approach the owner of those eyes, reach him, consume him: And in those fleeting moments the face of a young girl would pass through every stage from youth to extreme age, and then sink down in death. As the aged mystic whispered to Pym, the young man’s face turned ghastly, then worked convulsively, then settled into firm resolve. And Peters never again saw on the face of the youth whom he loved with the love of a mother and of a father in one–never again saw the old, careless, boyish smile. Did the old man–shall we call him a man?–did the old man whisper into Pym’s ear the secret of eternity? Would such a revelation have changed youth to manhood in a hundred seconds?

“As Pym was led by Diregus from the room, Peters started to follow; but the aged mystic motioned for him, too, to approach. Peters says that after what he had just seen he felt much more like taking to flight than he did like obeying the summons; but he obeyed it. The old man pointed to one of the smaller crystal cubes, which would have measured some five feet across. As Peters gazed upon it, it began to take on the milky hue which he had before witnessed. Peters says that at first he thought these cubes were of solid crystal, but after he witnessed the strange alterations of which they were capable, he believed they were hollow. He continued to gaze as directed, and soon he saw, sitting at a table, with a lighted candle by her side, knitting, his poor old mother, from whose side he had, fifteen years before, when a thoughtless, wicked boy, ran away to sea. He had never seen her again–he has not seen her again to the present day. As he gazed upon that aged, wrinkled face–that hard, Indian face (his mother was a civilized Indian), he saw that look which man sees nowhere else on sea or land save only in a mother’s face. He threw himself face-downward on the floor, and wrung in agony his hands, and moaned out pleas for forgiveness; but the poor, old, fragile form knitted on, and on, and the face was never raised. Alas! why must we all feel the full force of a mother’s love and sacrifices only when too late? Why must it be that the deepest of all unselfish love goes ever unrewarded?

“Peters scarcely knows how he got from the room. He staggered out into the grounds, and saw that the remainder of the party were already seated in the boat.

“But I must hasten on. Let me say in a few words, that the party returned to the ducal palace, and immediately prepared to rescue Lilama from the power of her discarded lover, the exiled Ahpilus. The rescue party, on the advice of the Duke, was small. He explained to Peters that so far as mere human force was concerned, a thousand men could never rescue the maiden. Her return to them, alive and in health, would depend upon strategy, or possibly might be accomplished as a result of some superhuman individual effort. He was of opinion, he remarked–and he judged from what he had been told by government officials lately returned from ‘Crater Mountains’ and also from changes in the young man observed by himself preceding the sentence of banishment–that Ahpilus was a maniac. The Duke went on to say that he really felt but little hope of ever again seeing, alive, his loved young ‘cousin.’ Then he explained that, whilst there were spots on ‘Crater Mountains,’ from five to eight miles from the central crater, on the far side of the nearer hills, hot enough to roast a large animal, there were other spots on the far side of the remoter mountain ranges where, protected from crater radiation and exposed to antarctic air-currents, the temperature was almost always far below the freezing-point, and sometimes so cold that no animal life, even antarctic animal life, could endure it for an hour. He said that poor Lilama was lost, unless some other exile should save her–which was unlikely, even if possible–or unless we could invent some plan of capture so peculiar as to baffle the madman–a man, by the bye, of enormous physical strength, and with a madman’s cunning. Peters stood drinking in every word spoken by the Duke; whilst Pym listened as if heartbroken, but in an impatient, anxious way, indicative of a restless impulse to be gone. The Duke continued to instruct and advise them, until a large sail-boat was provisioned and manned, when the rescue party hastened away on its errand of love and mercy.

“The party consisted of the young man Diregus, Lilama’s cousin; of Pym and Peters; and of six boatmen, who might or might not be employed directly in the attack and rescue, as should later seem best. The party had no weapons other than a few peculiarly-shaped clubs, similar to those mentioned by me in describing the fight of the early Hili-lites against the invading barbarians, and a long dirk-knife in the possession of Peters.

“By glancing at this map of Hili-liland, you will observe that the sea-course to ‘Crater Mountains’ was almost direct, it lying in a straight line out of Hili-li Bay and across the open sea for thirty miles. They were to enter ‘Volcano Bay,’ which pursued a tortuous course amid the mountains, until they should reach a certain pass between two of the highest mountains in the whole range. In the centre of one of these mountains was a peak some eight miles high, named by the founders of Hili-li ‘Mount Olympus.’ It was possible to sail (or to push their boat) to within seven miles of a point where the lavabed was still red hot–about thirteen miles from the edge of the central, white-hot, boiling lava. This, however, they did not do; first, because the pass mentioned, which was the best course up into the mountains, began about three or four miles short of the inner extremity of Volcano Bay; and second, because within a mile or two of that extremity the water of the bay sometimes actually boiled, and the heat would there be quite unendurable.”

Here Bainbridge paused for a moment, and then continued, “Well, my attentive friend, ‘the witching hour’ approaches. We lost too much time in discussion this evening–What! only ten o’clock?” he said, looking at his watch. “Well, I am at a good resting-place in the story, anyway, as you will to-morrow evening admit. Why, if I started you up into those mountains to-night, we should get no sleep before daylight. No, no: ‘sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof; more I would’–how does it go? Well, it means that the evils of two days should not be crowded into one day. The attempted quotation–as generally happens when I attempt quotation from the Bible–is a double failure: not a success simply in accuracy of repetition; and, at best, not appropriate. For I have more, and a great deal more. But”–rising from his chair–“I must depart. So adieu until the morrow–and good-night to you.”

He had not been gone five minutes, and I was just complimenting Arthur on his silence and otherwise commendable behavior, when Doctor Castleton bounced into the room. He knew in a general way the drift of Peters’ story, up to the developments of the evening before. His curiosity to hear what Doctor Bainbridge had so patiently and laboriously gleaned from Peters did not seem intense, or it was wonderfully well suppressed. Still, he liked briefly to learn from me the outlines of the story, and had not failed to meet me at some period of each day, and to hint at a desire for information. Therefore, I knew with what object he had this evening come to see me, and I ran rapidly over the facts developed the preceding evening, and then over those of that evening.

“Yes, yes,” he said, “I see, I see. Rich people, but money no good; poor people, but poverty no hardship. That’s Bainbridge’s nonsense–he never got anything out of Peters along that line. Money, but money no value! Oh, well; Bainbridge is young and full of theories. The next thing he’ll be saying that they’ve found a way in Hili-li to make life as valuable and agreeable for the lazy and the vile as for the industrious and moral classes. He’s just philosophizing to suit himself. Why, a people would have money if they had to make it out of their own hides, and the money would have value, too–yes, and labor-purchasing value. No people will ever have all they want, for they will invent new wants forever, and more rapidly than the old wants can be gratified. They may get all they require of food and clothing, and that, too, in exchange for next to no work; but they will always want things that they are unable to procure. So long as people do different kinds of work–supply the community with different necessaries–they will trade; and when they trade, common-sense will soon invent a circulating medium. And so long as one man is the mental or the physical superior of another, and fills more of the demands of the community than another, he will have the means of gratifying more of his own wants than the other man; and as differences increase, and different temperaments develop their varying propensities–some anticipating their ability to expend, others desiring to accumulate for the everlasting rainy day–there will, and necessarily must, arise stable methods of preserving values. Oh, pshaw! Who wants to make all men–and all women, too–in a single mental and physical mould?–and a mighty insignificant mould at that? The world is not made better by ease and plenty, but by hardship. Ease and plenty come not but as a reward of striving. When every man is like every other man, and all are too lazy to want anything, the reign of money will be ended.

“Why not enroll the whole world, and have a great army in civil life, constantly under command, with the nature of its wants and their form of gratification fixed or regulated by–well, by a majority of these dough men? That’s the only way I know for the people to get rid of a circulating medium, and live.”

He paused for a moment, both in his locution, and in his walk back and forward across the floor. Then he resumed both:

“I do not know of anything quite so idiotic as is this howl directed against the possession of wealth. I myself am a poor man: if I do not earn a living each year, I go hungry or go in debt. But I would not trade off my chances of a competency and of wealth–a reasonable ambition for every man in England and America–no, not to see every rich man on earth starve–or even sent to hell. This howl is the mark of a plebeian, or at least of a wickedly childish cast of intellect. I know of nothing quite so foolish, and of nothing half so brutal. The Jew-baiting folly is a phase of the same nonsense. It is foolish, because if the possession of capital is denied to the men who can best acquire and hence best continue to employ it, then commercial civilization must take a back seat–in fact, go, and go to stay; and this means abject poverty for everybody but a handful of state and church aristocrats. It is brutal, because it is unreasoning and mistakenly vindictive. It is the howl of the mentally weak–of the mob; and the mob is always brutal.

“If we are to suppress those whose possessions evidence a past or a present performance of some service that the world demanded and paid for, we cast aside the useful of the earth: we know that their possessions were gained, not from the pauper, but from those who held material wealth; and I know, and can most solemnly swear, from personal experience, that in this world nobody gets anything for nothing.

“Oh, the first French revolution! The French revolution was all right. The fight was not against commercial wealth, but against a corrupt church, state, and social order. And nobody maintains that the commercial class is immaculate: every class should come under the regulation of good statutory law. I only claim that it would be wrong and foolish to take away in whole or in part the accumulations of the commercial class. With us the only wealthy citizens are commercial people, and those who have acquired wealth through them, for with us here, at this time, the wealthy owners of realty are commercial men who have put their surplus money into land. Oh, yes: control them; but it’s not the business men of the world who need the most looking after.”

And with that he shot out of the room and down the stairs; and I soon after retired to rest.

The FOURTEENTH Chapter

The next evening at an early hour Arthur was seated in the least conspicuous corner of my room, a spot which he seemed to have selected as his own; and, as usual, Doctor Bainbridge entered promptly at eight o’clock. After the customary minute or two of thoughtful quiet, and a glance at the map of Hili-li, which each evening I kept spread on my table in the centre of the room, Bainbridge continued his recital:

“Last evening brought us to the moment when the rescue party, having entered Volcano Bay, were about to land at the foot of the great mountain, called Olympus–the Hili-li synonym for Mount preceding the name Olympus when the peak, some eight miles high, was referred to. Now if you will examine this map with a little care you will observe here, near the inner extremity of Volcano Bay, an apparently narrow inlet passing directly into the mountain-side. This does not represent an inlet from the bay, but an outlet from Crater Lake, a very deep lake, the surface of which is several thousand feet below its banks, the lake being on the top of the mountain, just south of Mt. Olympus, and emptying into Volcano Bay. This outlet is a small stream at the bottom of a chasm which cannot correctly be represented on my map, as it is relatively very narrow, being only from ten to one hundred feet in width. This chasm is what we here term a canyon, or _canon_, the walls of which in this instance rise perpendicularly from the water to the average height of ten thousand feet. The paths up the mountain are on the sides of this outlet–not close to the water, but winding in and out along the mountain-side above, there being a passable way on each side of the canyon from the bay to the lake, the distance from bay to lake along either path being, in its tortuous course, about thirteen miles. At Crater Lake the mountain rises to a height of about six miles, the surface of the lake being about four miles above the sea level, its banks some ten thousand feet in height. A perfectly straight line down the mountain-side would measure about eight or nine miles.

“As the canyon leaves the bay, its walls are about a hundred feet high, and are separated by about the same distance; but as the mountain is ascended, the walls rapidly rise, and soon become far above the water between, and they gradually approach each other. At certain points the walls actually overhang the stream below, and almost meet, at one spot approximating to within ten feet of each other. Three miles from the bay the walls are twenty feet apart, and for the remaining five miles they do not at any place approach closer, but on the other hand very gradually separate to about sixty feet at the extreme top. At five miles from the bay the walls are fully ten thousand feet in altitude, and are nowhere less in height from that point to the edge of Crater Lake.

“Our party started up the mountain on one side of this canyon, or giant chasm, Diregus appearing in some way to know that this was the proper course to pursue. When they were some three miles on their way, a young man was seen approaching, but on the opposite side of the chasm. He was a young fellow of prepossessing appearance, dressed in plain, coarse loathing, and having the elastic movement and grace of the better classes. Peters observed, when only the width of the chasm separated the two, that the young Hili-lite had a laughing eye, full of latent mischief, but also of intelligence.

“He was known to Diregus, and the two began a conversation. He was one of the exiles, by name Medosus. Diregus soon ascertained that the exiles had long known Ahpilus to be insane; that, three days before, his condition had become much aggravated, and that on the preceding day he had suffered from an attack of raving mania which lasted several hours. Medosus did not know of the abduction of Lilama, but he had three hours earlier seen Ahpilus a mile or two from Crater Lake.

“When the party heard this, they were anxious to proceed, but Medosus in turn had a few questions to ask, and in common courtesy Diregus was compelled to wait and reply to the poor exile’s interrogatories.

“Whilst the two conversed, Medosus took from his pocket some dry, brown, crumpled leaves, and put a wad of them into his mouth, much as would an American planter who raises tobacco and chews the unprepared leaf. Now Peters was a lover of tobacco, and the sight of this action, so suggestive of his loved weed, excited him greatly, as he had not so much as seen a scrap of tobacco for months. When it developed that it was tobacco that Medosus had placed in his mouth, and that in some of the valleys between these mountains a species of wild tobacco grew, Peters was determined to have some of it, the craving of months seeming so near to gratification; and he asked Medosus to give him a little of it, to last until he could procure a fuller supply. Medosus was perfectly willing to grant this request; but on rolling up a wad and attempting to throw it across the chasm, it fell into the abyss and fluttered downward to the water nearly two miles below. He was about to make a second effort, when Peters stopped him, and then a pretty, though a really terrible thing happened–to relate which was the real purpose of this digression from my story proper.

“Peters was at the moment standing some fifteen feet from the edge of the chasm, the chasm being at this point about twenty feet in width–twenty feet in width, and even here, where it was two thousand feet less in depth than it was a mile higher up, at least eight thousand feet in descent–sheer to the raging torrent and the huge, jagged lava-bowlders below. It was all done so quickly that none of the party had time to become alarmed. Peters, whose arms when he hung them reached to within four inches of his feet, stooped just enough to bring his hands to the ground. Then, as a lame man using crutches might swing himself along, but with lightning-like swiftness, Peters took two rapid jumps toward the edge of the chasm, the second jump landing him directly on its edge. Then he shot up and out into the air over that awful abyss, and landed on the opposite side as gently as a cat lands from a six-foot leap; and it did not seem to require of him an unusual effort. He received his tobacco, and turned to make the leap back.

“When Peters mentioned to me the circumstance of this leap, it was only because he had at the time it was made been so interested in the incident of getting the tobacco, that he never forgot the occurrence; in fact, it seems to have impressed his mind and memory almost as deeply as did the old man with the ‘snow-drift beard and the eyes of a god.’

“I attempted to get out of Peters just how he made the leap–whether with the legs, or the arms, or both as an impelling force; but it was no use. I believe that he does not himself know–he did it by an animal instinct, and that is all there is to be said. The old fellow does not really know his age, but I should place it, at the present time, at from seventy-eight to eighty years, which, if correct, would indicate that he was twenty-eight or thirty at the time he was in Hili-li. He must have been as strong generally as three average men, and in the arms as strong as five or six such men. You remember telling me yourself how he twisted that iron poker, and broke the oak pole; and that was the act of an invalid nearly eighty years of age. Oh, he must have been a Samson at twenty-eight, and as agile as a tiger. What I could draw out of him concerning the leap, reminded me of descriptions I have read of the _Simiidae_–particularly of the Borneo orang-outang.

“But to return: The party separated from Medosus, who, when about two hundred feet away, shouted back, ‘You’d better stay with us, Diregus. We do not here have to hide away when we play–or at–‘ (mentioning the names of two very rough games prohibited by law on all the islands of the Hili-li Kingdom–games corresponding to our foot-ball and our wrestling). The party continued up the mountain-side, resting as they felt the need of rest. No preparation for the darkness of night was necessary; for here the crater-light was very bright–in some unshaded spots it was even painfully brilliant.

“After several hours of laborious ascent, the small party of four (Diregus had taken with them only one of the boatmen) came within plain sight of the rim of Crater Lake, half a mile ahead of them, and almost perpendicularly above, though nearly two miles away measured along the shortest route that travellers might pursue. It was not at the time known, and therefore never will be known, whether or not Lilama had caught a glimpse of her approaching friends; but at that moment a piercing scream rang through the air from above. Peters thinks that Lilama saw some of the party, because the quality of the scream was not such as to convey an impression that she was in instant danger. The signal, if signal it was, was not repeated, nor did the party wait for a repetition. They all hurried onward with renewed vigor; and, in a short time, considering the severity of the ascent, had reached a point near which they supposed the scream must have been uttered.

“The party had scattered, and were searching among the mammoth lava-bowlders, and in the small side valleys and fissures; Peters, however, as he then always instinctively did, keeping by the side of Pym. The two had separated to quite a distance from the others, when, being then quite close to the edge of the great chasm, they heard a deep though penetrating voice say the one word (of course in the Hili-li language), ‘Well?’

“Looking in the direction from which the voice came, they saw on the opposite side of the chasm a young and handsome man, dressed much as was the exile, Medosus. There could not for a moment be any doubt in the minds of Pym and Peters concerning the identity of this young man; but if there had been, it would immediately have been dispelled.

“‘Well, gentlemen?’ the voice further said.

“Pym and Peters had stepped up close to the edge of the abyss, which here was, as it was throughout the upper third of its length, from forty-five to fifty-five feet in width (Peters thinks that at this part of its course it was fully fifty feet broad).

“‘Well, gentlemen: why are you two, strangers to me, and to my people, also, I think–why are you here?’

“The speaker would have seemed very far from insane, had it not been for his large black eyes, shifting and glittering in the bright volcanic light.

“At last Pym spoke:

“‘Sir,’ he said, very calmly, ‘we came to assist our friends of the neighboring island–friends who have been very kind to us–to search for a maiden who by some strange mischance has been lost from her people–from her people and her friends, who grieve sorely over their loss.’

“‘Ah, ha,’ said Ahpilus–for it was he–‘very good. And they grieve, do they? Curse them, let them grieve! And a certain lover–and curse him, too–does he grieve? He would better! Ah, ha, ha, ha’–the voice rising with each syllable, until the last was almost shrieked at Pym–‘Kind to you, were they? Well, there is one of them near by–on this side the chasm, curse you–who won’t be kind to you again. Yes, and you may see her, too.’ Then Ahpilus stepped off behind some thick, stunted bushes of a variety of evergreen, whence, in a moment, he returned, leading by the wrist Lilama. ‘Great Jove above! Girl, do you see your lover over there? You have no love for me–you never had; but never again in time or in eternity shall I lie with burning brain, thinking of those snowy arms about the stranger’s neck–aye, as once I saw them in the palace grounds. Curse you all, and may you all alike be d—-d. Why should a stranger come through ten thousand perils to add to all my untold agonies.’ Here for a moment his voice softened, almost to a gentle whisper. ‘Ah, Lilama, once, only once, you shall, of your own free will, clasp those arms around me–if not in love, then in terror. A moment more, and over this abyss together we shall go!’ With terror in his eyes, Pym glanced at Peters; and even the phlegmatic Peters was startled. ‘Yes, for one moment in each other’s arms; and then for me, the everlasting darkness of Tartarus, or of endless oblivion.’

“As he talked, he had dropped the wrist of Lilama, and she crouched upon the ground with her hands before her face, whilst Ahpilus continued to rave, and to pace from the chasm’s edge away and back again, in maniac strides, until he had almost beaten where he paced a pathway. There was not the slightest necessity for Ahpilus to guard Lilama, for the awful chasm was more than twice the width that any sane and normal man, even an athlete, would dare attempt to leap, even to preserve his own life; and the distance to be traversed to gain a point in the chasm so narrow that an ordinary man would dare attempt to leap it, was several miles down the mountain-side; so that Lilama was at least ten miles beyond the reach of Pym, though less than eighty feet away.

“The mental strain on poor Pym was almost enough to make him a madman. There strode the maniac, to and from the edge of the abyss, rhythmically, rarely varying the distance by a yard–twenty yards off, then back again, then away. On every third or fourth approach he stepped literally to the edge of the chasm, and glanced down, ten thousand feet to where the stream below looked like the finest silver thread, lighted by the dazzling light from the giant crater, reflected into every smallest fissure. Now and again the madman would lash himself into a fury, and stop for a moment to gaze at Lilama, who never moved from her crouching position some ten feet from the canyon’s brink. Even Peters, the stoic, was moved–but moved to anger rather than to grief or fear. He inwardly chafed, and madly raved, by turns, at the impotency of his position; whilst Pym seemed frozen into statuesque despair. How much longer would this scene of terror last? Oh, the thought of that awful leap into space! The maniac might any moment end the scene–each time as he approached in that wild rush backward and forward might be the last. The slightest move, the slightest sound, might precipitate the dire calamity–and Lilama as well as Pym and Peters seemed to feel this truth. The madman, like the wild beast, appears to need an extraneous stimulus, be it ever so slight, to suggest an initiative: the crooking of a finger, the whispering of a word, may be sufficient, but it must be something.–Ah! Has the moment come? Has the insane man caught some sound inaudible to the others? He pauses. Yes, he is going to act.

“‘Oh! friend,’ wailed Pym to Peters, in a low voice, ‘save her, save her, or where she goes, there go I.’

“Then Peters looks across the chasm, down upon the scene beyond. The