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  • 1899
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opposite brink at this point is ten or twelve feet lower than the spot where Pym and Peters stand, which gives them an excellent view of Lilama and Ahpilus. It is impossible to say just why, but it is obvious that the time which they dread has come. Ahpilus stands looking at the beautiful maiden who crouches in front of him; and as he gazes his powerful form seems to swell, as does that of a wild animal that has determined to spring upon its prey. His arms move forward to grasp her. He has no fear of interruption–he has for the moment forgotten the strangers. He slightly alters his position–his back is toward the chasm–his hands touch the person of his prey. Lilama partly raises her head. She glances past the maniac for a last look at her lover. She does not scream, even as those vise-like hands close upon her, and slowly, oh, so slowly, but steadily, draw her within that iron embrace–slowly, slowly, as might a maniac devotee move in the desecration of his idol.

“But why does she not scream? Why are her eyes fastened–not on her lover–not on the madman, but upon another object? What is that object? Is it a man? Can any man move as that thing moves? Surely that cannot be a man, that streak of drab color–yonder thing that casts to the ground a garment, then shoots backward twenty feet from the abyss–swifter than a panther, as silent as death, with two balls of living fire glaring from–from a face? Surely not a human face! Yes, it is a human face. She does not see the pallid face, the wild eyes of her lover, looking, too, at that thing–that human embodiment of animal agility. No: she has not time to look, for though the human eye is quick, that thing is quicker; and if she take her eye from it for half a second, her gaze will lose it. She cannot take from it her gaze–she is fascinated. Within the past second of time an heroic resolve has been formed, and a drama has begun; in the next two seconds an act in the drama will be completed; in sixty seconds more, a whole tragedy will be added to the list of human sorrows.

“No tongue can tell what cannot quite be seen. A rush of color toward that awful gap; it reaches the edge; it rises in the air and shoots out over that gulf that might indeed have been the portal of Tartarus. Fifty feet as flies the bird. It is in the air–it is half-way over–and yet the maniac has seen it not. But the maniac is turning with his victim in his arms. The streak of drab has passed forty feet–ten feet further if it is to reach the other brink–ten thousand if it fails to reach it; and it has already sunk ten feet in space–with ten feet more of horizontal distance to cover, it is already on a level with the edge of the abyss which it must safely reach, or–The maniac has turned; and the streak of drab has reached the brink–but, ah! below the surface. The form is that of Peters–the only man who could be in such a situation yet live on. One of those invincible arms is thrown upon the surface above the chasm, and those long fingers fasten upon the immovable lava. And now the madman sees the danger that menaces his design–but too late, for Peters the unconquerable stands erect between him and the chasm. Then Ahpilus quickly sets on the ground his living burden; and Peters, the human bird of passage, risks again his life.

“But, for a man like Peters, such a contest was scarcely a risk. Had Ahpilus been less savage in his baffled rage, Peters would have spared the madman; but it was not to be. There was scarcely a man in all Hili-li that could physically cope with Ahpilus; but he was no match for Peters. For a few moments the sailor protected himself without any act of aggression; but it soon became apparent that he would be obliged to destroy his adversary, or himself be destroyed. Ahpilus had pushed Peters, or Peters had carelessly allowed himself to shift his own position, to within dangerously close proximity to the chasm, and at the moment when Peters noticed this circumstance, he also saw that he was between Ahpilus and the abyss: and Ahpilus, in all his furious madness, also observed his advantage. Peters had in his possession a very long and keen knife, but, as he afterward said in talking over this incident, he had never yet seen the time when he was compelled to use an artificial weapon in an encounter with a single combatant; and particularly would he never have used a knife, even though his adversary were a maniac, if a maniac without an artificial weapon. Peters saw that Diregus had found Pym, and, as was also the boatman, he and Pym were, of course, viewing the struggle. I should not, however, have included Pym in the party of observers; for he knew too well how the combat would end to be much absorbed in it. He had no eyes for anything but Lilama.–But to return: As Ahpilus saw his advantage, by a supreme effort he summoned all his great muscular strength, and aided by that invincible motor, the will of a madman, he endeavored to force Peters over the brink. At that precise moment the sailor had his right hand closed on the top of Ahpilus’s left shoulder, and his left hand just beneath Ahpilus’s right arm on the side of the exile’s chest. He quickly shifted his left hand to the side of the hip; and then those great gorilla arms raised from the ground the body of the madman, swung it overhead as another man might swing the body of a three-year-old child, as he did so bringing the back of his adversary downward; and then came a movement of Herculean power in which the long arms approximated with a twisting, bending effect; two vertebras in Ahpilus’s back at the point of least resistance separated, the spine was dislocated, and a mass of helpless, vibrating human flesh fell at the feet of the victor. Peters, whilst his brute instinct was in full possession of him, might, instead of dropping Ahpilus to the ground, have thrown the body into the abyss; but Diregus had anticipated such an action, and called to Peters not to injure the poor insane fellow more than was necessary to prevent him from injuring others. Ahpilus was not dead–that is, he was not dead over his entire body: the hips and all below were as nerveless as the body of a corpse; but above the hips, the same old vigor remained–and so it would be though he lived for yet a hundred years.”

Here Doctor Bainbridge ceased to speak. Doctor Castleton had entered the room two or three minutes before, and, keeping silent, had heard the last three or four hundred words, which described the close of that brief but terrible combat.


“Well,” said Doctor Castleton, as Bainbridge closed. “Peters could, when he was fifty years younger, have done that very thing to any living man weighing not more than a hundred and eighty or a hundred and ninety pounds. I myself have seen him throw to the ground a powerful horse, and the little giant must have been older than sixty at the time. Then again, he possesses that wonderful instinct of certainty in action which belongs to purely animal life. It is said that the tiger when it strikes never misses its aim; and that our American panther makes the most unusual leaps without ever making an attempt beyond its powers. I have many times observed that even our comparatively degenerate domestic cat very rarely indeed, if ever, fails to accomplish the purpose of a stroke. Peters possesses, or did possess, that instinct.”

“Yes,” said Bainbridge, “you are right. Peters says that on almost every vessel he ever shipped on he was called ‘the baboon’–because of his great physical power and agility, he says; but as we know, rather because of his extremely short stature, his large mouth–in fact, his resemblance in many striking ways to the gorilla, or the orang-outang; and perhaps, also, in part, to his habit, mentioned in Pym’s description of him, of feigning mental aberration–assuming to be ‘simple.'”

“This won’t do,” said Castleton, with that peculiar look on his face which always appeared when he was about to deflect from the serious to the humorous. “Whilst I should not object to hearing my old friend Peters called a gorilla, I draw the line at gorilla. I should object to the appellation orang-outang, and I should resent with emphasis that of baboon. But gorilla I will accept, for in many ways the gorilla is, or at least once was, the superior of man. Even if we limit the source of our deductions to the skeleton of the animal, the truth of my last assertion is strongly evidenced. In the first place, the gorilla is more sedate and less pettily curious than man; this is proved by his having only three, instead of four, bones in the last division of his spine, giving him a shorter caudal appendage than man’s, and proving the animal to be farther from the monkey than are we; then in the second place, the gorilla has thirteen ribs, which would seem to be rational evidence that, whatever the present gorilla may be, his ancestors of by-gone ages were handsomer than man; because in the gorilla’s first search for a wife the field of operations was not limited to his own chest.”

“That will do very well, doctor; but don’t you think you are a little severe on Adam?” I said.

“I have no sympathies with Adam. Not that I ever blamed him for his weakness in the apple incident; but I do blame him for his garrulity, and his paltry cowardice in exposing Eve. Eve was an instinctive agnostic–and she didn’t purpose to be anybody’s slave. If Adam decided to keep up with the procession, as he at first did decide to do, he had no business to whine over the outcome. I’d wager freely that Eve earned the living after the pair left paradise. Cain took after his mother; and I hazard the opinion that Eve was in sympathy with Cain in the Abel episode–that is, after the tragedy. Eve and Cain had the best of everything all the way through, for they acted in harmony with their feelings; whilst poor old feeble, vacillating Adam tried to use his worthless old brain-box, and the natural consequence ensued. His feelings, which constituted the strongest part of his mind, were always in conflict with his intellect, which was just strong enough to get him into trouble when a pure out-and-out unreasoning animal would have been safe; and he never had enough will properly to correct an error when he did see it.”

We laughed over this conceit of Castleton’s, and Bainbridge said:

“Speaking of biblical characters, I have thought that Moses would, with even slight literary training, have far surpassed the modern writer of adventure-fiction. His style may be open to adverse criticism, but his originality is beyond question. If he left any material for a purely original story, I fail to detect it. He gave to literature the sea-story, the war-story, and the love-story–stories that hinge on all the human passions, and stories of the supernatural in all its phases. He first presented to a world innocent of fiction-literature the giant and the dwarf; the brave man, the strong man, and the man of supreme fortitude; the honest man, the truthful king, and the woman that knows how to wait for the man she loves; voices in the air, signs in the sky–in short, everything. Even poor old Aesop wasn’t in time to grasp a reputation for originality. The modern story-teller may combine, extend, and elaborate; but all opportunity for a display of invention seems to be forever barred.”

“By the bye, doctor,” said Castleton, evidently impatient at his enforced silence whilst another spoke, “do any of your volcanoes or mountains in Hili-li blow up?”

“No, sir,” answered Bainbridge, with dignity.

“Well, if I had been Pym I should have blown those mountains into the Antarctic Ocean,” said Castleton. “I understand from the words that I caught this evening as I entered here that your heroine is safe; but if I had been Pym, I should have taken no risks. I should have sent your madman word to return the girl, or take the consequences–the consequences being that I should have blown him and the entire mountain into the mighty deep. ‘Sir,’ I should have said, ‘return the lady, or I will annihilate you.’ And so I should have done, if a hair of her head had been harmed.–By the bye, gentlemen, I believe you never heard of my invention for stopping war, did you?” We intimated that we had thus far been deprived of that pleasure. I saw that one of his peculiar outbursts was at hand–one of those apparently serious, though, I thought, intentionally humorous sallies, so puzzling coming from a man of Castleton’s intellectual attainments, and the mental _primum mobile_ of which I had already been much interested in trying to determine.

“Well, gentlemen,” he continued, “it was about fourteen years ago, during the dark days of The War”–he referred to the great rebellion in the United States, which began in 1861, and which it required the existing government about four years to suppress. “It was during the period when our great President was most worried. I had thought the matter over–as I always do think over vast questions, from the standpoint of true greatness. ‘Why not,’ I mentally soliloquized, ‘why not end this matter at a blow? ‘As I drove about through our retired roads and lanes, I gave the subject my very best attention. I thought to myself how the present system of the universe depends upon what we term the luminiferous ether; of the perfect elasticity and inexpansibility of that ether; of what its nature must be. I concluded that no ultimate particle of it–as with matter no atom–is ever added to or removed from the universe. Now, if we could succeed in removing from this inexpansible, universal ocean of ether even the most ultimate portion, there would be a literal vacuum with nothing to fill it, and the equilibrium of the universe would be destroyed. Now, gentlemen, is or is not this supposition logical?”

We admitted our inability to deny its truth.

“‘Well, then,’ I reasoned, looking at the subject on the reverse side, ‘could an additional portion of ether be created, there would be in space no place to receive it; the universe in its present state–a state in which what we term matter or substance exists–would just simply cease to exist–instantly, and within the compass of every star and planet.’

“But how to create that particle of ether–that was what occupied my mind for weeks. I would seem to grasp the hint that came and went within the recesses of a brain which–so say my friends–has perhaps never had its equal for variety of conception and rapid response to the slightest external or internal stimulus. Now, many physicists suppose matter to be simply a form of ether–plainly, that matter originated out of ether–was made from ether; so that, after all, the universe was created from nothing–that is, nothing if we correctly define matter. It was but a step for me, then, to the end: remove all radiant energy from a fixed gas–a gas without the property of condensation to another form of matter, _i.e._, to a fluid or a solid–and the thing, I said to myself, is done. I am positive that I know of such a gas, and within a few years all physicists will recognize it. At present the method of procuring it is my secret, as I may still wish to experiment with what is now but a theoretical discovery, though certain to unfold in practice exactly as I have explained it. You understand, of course, that I remove from my gas, by artificial cold and compression, the last vestige of heat, my gas becomes ether, there is no place for it in the universal ocean of inexpansible ether, the balance of the universe as it now exists is destroyed, all matter instantly ceases to exist, and we just sit back and wait for a few billions of trillions of cycles of time, until another system of nature is formed.”

For a time we all kept silence: Doctor Bainbridge, I suppose, like myself, marvelling at the peculiarities of our strange companion. At last I said:

“And how about the war, doctor?”

“Now comes the humiliation!” he replied. “Oh, must genius ever grovel at the feet of mere physical power–insolent official power! Why are great men so difficult of access! Why, in 1453, did not Constantine in his day of trouble listen to your brainy countryman, and save Europe from the inroads of the Turk? Well, I hastened to Washington City, determined that no ear other than the President’s own should hear the secret; and that no power on earth should draw it from me. I went to the White House. I admit that war-times are busy times–but those infernal White House flunkies kept me waiting in the reception-rooms for four hours! I told my plans to the ushers, to a waiting soldier or two, and to a foreign diplomat with whom I struck up a talk. All of them acted suspiciously, and I believe were jealous of my wisdom. When, for the third time, an usher took my card–or pretended to take my card–to the President, his secretary came down to me. At first I told him that my secret was for the President’s ear alone; but at last I gave him a clew to the nature of my business. He left me, but he did not return. Such is reflected political power. But I thought of my power–aye, and physical power, too–the only real power. I never blamed the President–I to this day believe that that fellow H—- never told Lincoln of my visit to the White House.”

After an appreciative murmur and movement on the part of Bainbridge and myself–for we felt like laughing, and yet sighs of wonderment were expected by Castleton–and after a grunt from Arthur in his corner, I asked, for want of something better to say,

“Were you ever in the army, doctor?”

“Well–ah–no–yes–no, sir; not exactly,” Castleton replied. “But I had a younger brother who beat the drum for a whole week in an enlisting-office tent in Chicago. Poor boy! he died of brain fever in 1869–always a genius–great brain.–And this talk reminds me that I am getting no pension from the United States Government on that poor, neglected, sacrificed boy. Curse my thoughtlessness! Yes, and–but no: I belong to the old school of patriots–I will not curse my country.”

As Castleton uttered the last sentence, he approached the door of exit to the hall. He had as usual been pacing the floor; and with the closing word he shot into the hall and was gone. And as the sound of his footsteps rang through the corridors of the hotel, Arthur remarked, from his corner:

“It’s a pity he didn’t sit down on his boomerang infernal-machine, and then set it a-going: he might a been on the moon by this time, where the fool belongs, with the other lunatics. If he ever comes into my new ice-cream parlor–(twelve by sixteen, gas-lights, three tables, and six chairs; two spoons furnished with one saucer if desired, and a napkin for your lady free; ten cents a saucer, and ginger-bread thrown in)–why out he goes, too quick. Oh, he’s a daisy, he is! If you ever want to remind me of him, anybody, ask me to lend you a dime; and when I shake my head and my teeth rattle, I’ll remember the lunkhead, sure enough.”

I frowned down the youngster, for he had promised not to obtrude his opinion in the presence of Bainbridge. But as his words did not refer in any manner to the story that Bainbridge was telling us, I should not have objected to them, but that with Arthur it was necessary to be cautious in creating precedents, which, as I have intimated, in his case almost immediately congealed into vested rights; and our agreement had obligated him to observe complete silence on the subject of Peters’ story, and, if I correctly remember–though Arthur denied this latter–on all other subjects, in the presence of Doctor Bainbridge.

As Bainbridge appeared to have nothing further to say, and was making those slight occasional movements which I knew presaged his departure, I began to talk of Peters’ leap; and in the most guarded manner–for with Bainbridge any question of the facts of his narrative required tact and delicacy to avoid the giving of offence–to discuss the subject of leaping in general, the facts and probabilities relating to distance, and the laws and conditions that might govern and regulate the running-leap.

“Do you not think,” I finally asked, “that Peters somewhat overestimates the distance of his marvelous leap? I am aware that Peters was, both in strength and in agility, almost preterhuman; but fifty feet or thereabouts! That seems scarcely possible. Our best athletes, I believe, have never, on level ground, made a running leap of much more than half that distance. Now forty feet, under all the circumstances, would not strike me as impossible, though thirty-five would better chime with my ideas of the probable, and thirty would remove all possibility of any draft on my credulity.”

“It is not a question of ideas or of credulity,” answered Bainbridge, “but one of fact. However, we will look at the incident from the stand-point of reason and experience. Now let us assume that a running leap of twenty-five feet on level ground would not be beyond the ability of a trained athlete. I think you will allow to Peters a natural advantage of seven feet over an ordinary athlete, when you consider the superiority of his form, so well adapted to leaping–a form that gives to him the advantage of an orang-outang, without the disadvantage of hand-like feet, so poorly suited to flat surfaces. From the fullest information I could obtain from Peters, I believe that in leaping he obtains more impetus from his arms than from his legs; but even with his preternatural strength he does not get quite as much impulse-force from his legs as would an ordinary athlete. I myself think that the use of his arms in making this leap gave him an advantage of one-third over another man of equal strength. However, I ask you to allow him from all advantage of form, in the leap alone, seven feet, or twenty-eight per cent.”

To this proposition I assented.

“Then,” continued Bainbridge, “it must be remembered that so far as the actual leap is concerned, he missed the opposite edge of the abyss–for he did miss it, and any other man would have gone to the bottom of the chasm. It was only the length of his arm, with its excessive strength, and the iron grip of that enormous hand, which prevented complete failure. As a matter of fact, the walls of the abyss being fifty feet apart, Peters leaped only forty-seven feet. Am I correct?”

Again I assented.

“Then,” said Bainbridge, “we have brought within the limits of reason thirty-five of the fifty feet, and fifteen feet remain to be accounted for. Now let us recall to your memory the fact that the edge of the abyss toward which he leaped was twelve feet lower than the edge from which he sprung; and that, in his progress across the chasm he fell, in addition to this twelve feet, his own height–which, according to Pym’s diary was, at that period, four feet and eight inches. If Peters could have covered thirty-five feet on level ground, could he have covered fifty feet with the advantage of a drop of nearly seventeen feet? Assuming a certain weight for Peters, we could calculate the number of foot-pounds of energy, or the initial velocity, necessary to make a leap of thirty-five feet on level ground, and how many foot-pounds it would require to make a leap of fifty feet with a drop of sixteen feet and eight inches taken into the conditions. But as most of the equations in our calculation are approximative, I prefer that the element of gravitation should be handled in a general way. If a leaper were to impel himself horizontally only, he would, in the shortest leap, fall below a level. This fall may be met to the extent of about two feet, by drawing up the legs–that is, by ‘hunkering’ as the leap progresses, and alighting on his feet with the body to that extent lower than when the spring began. In a leap of twenty-five feet, however, the leaper is compelled to project himself upward as well as forward; and an instinctive sense of just how little energy may be expended in raising himself, and how much may be left for the forward impulse, is one of the chief elements of his proficiency. Peters did not have to raise his body at all.”

“I begin to comprehend,” said I.

“Yes,” replied Bainbridge, “the more you think of it, the more convinced will you become that Peters made the leap as he states. Of course he could not have sprung fifty feet, or even forty feet, on a level; for, in a leap of only forty feet, one would have to raise himself more than twelve feet into the air, and (except for a possible small advantage of position in leaping) it requires the same amount of force to raise a body ten feet on an incline, as it does to raise the same body ten feet perpendicularly into space–an impossible feat, even to Peters at twenty-eight or thirty years of age.”

“I quite believe that he did it,” I said, “and when we consider that he claims to have measured the distance only mentally, and that he might therefore honestly have mistaken it to the extent of a few feet, I am willing to say that my confidence in his intended veracity is unshaken–even if he is an old sailor.”

“Yes,” said Bainbridge, “and we must not overlook the fact that a man’s mental state at the time of performing a physical feat is a very important determining factor in the result of the performance. A powerful but lackadaisical fellow might, with only a few dollars at stake, make a very poor showing; yet to preserve his life he might make a really wonderful leap. What effect, then, did mental condition exert on a man like Peters under the circumstances attending this unparalleled leap? Think of the enormous muscular power developed by the message received through the nerves from a mind thus affected! His own life, and that of another, if not of two others, depended upon the success of his effort. Under such circumstances muscular power would either be paralyzed, or else intensified beyond our common conception of such force. Peters positively asserts, that when a boy of sixteen he frequently leaped from the flat upper deck of a boat–that is, from a height of twenty feet–into the surrounding water, habitually covering a distance of from forty to forty-five feet; whilst other boys, under the same conditions, rarely covered twenty-five feet, and never thirty.”

A moment later Bainbridge arose to depart; but he lingered for a moment, standing, and with his left hand resting on the centre table, began to speak in a general way of the great antarctic crater and its surrounding wonders. It was my habit to make full notes of the actual facts stated by him in the more formal parts of these evening recitals, and sometimes even of his comments; and I regret that I did not do so at the particular moment to which I am now alluding. It was not until the following morning that I made a few memoranda of the closing incident of the evening. With the help of these notes and a fairly good memory, I hope to be able at this late day to describe for the reader an episode that I should dislike entirely to omit from this narrative.

He spoke for several minutes of the wonderful power of nature to accomplish certain ends–the force that accomplishes which, he termed a _purpose_ in nature; and he made some remarks along the line of a contention, that the development of all matter into higher forms was what he called an unconscious intention, explaining that there was no paradox in the expression “unconscious intention”; for, he said, even men, individual men, are constantly performing a thousand acts that have an unconscious purpose or intention–as, for instance, the automatic action of winding a watch without the slightest exercise of will, and without remembering the action. This unconscious motive-force, he said, is inherent in vegetables as well as in animals, and that in fact it exists, though relatively of very slow and feeble action, in all matter, the power being an attribute of all molecules, and even of elemental atoms. He, however, claimed no originality for any of the views which he expressed.

“To my consciousness,” he said, “the conviction of individual immortality is so clear that, if I were not perfectly aware of the cause of their doubt or disbelief, I should wonder at intelligent persons questioning the fact. Like everything else taught by Christ, that we are immortal is a fact; and it is not in a billion years that we shall live again under new conditions, but, as He intimated, ‘to-morrow.’ And I surmise that we shall not do so in any absurdly physical way, nor yet in a manner so deeply abstruse that it would require a logician and a professional physicist, were it explained, to comprehend it. As with all that God has given us, we shall find the conditions of the next life very simple. Educated men–nearly all highly educated men, and particularly educated theologians–when they touch this subject remind me of the cuttle-fish. There is nothing around them that is not perfectly transparent until, by their own act, everything is obscured to themselves and to their neighbors. But whilst the cuttle-fish swims out of the zone of opacity created by himself, the theologian remains in his, fighting the obscurity with logic–for that purpose the poorest of all devices. You cannot guide an emotional boat with an intellectual rudder. Something to me much more convincing than reason, tells me that our bodies will not be long in their graves before we shall again begin to live; and my feeling is, that, though consciousness will at the death of this body be obscured for a time, it will not be lost for a _long_ time. I feel that almost at once after death the mystery of conscious individuality will again assert itself. Refined by this life, as the molecular construction of inorganic matter is refined by passing through organic life, so the consciousness lately within the molecules of your discarded body, will not be as the consciousness within like molecules of mineral or of vegetable matter; for it will be your consciousness –_your_ consciousness, created by God and developed by His edict –developed after slumbering for ages within the mineral; awakening to quicker action in the vegetable world; touching the domain of conscious memory in lower animals; aroused to keener moral and intellectual existence in your late body, and at last made ready for a new mystery–what, we know not–in another world, possibly in the direction of what we might call a ‘fourth dimension’ of consciousness. Oh, no; there should not be anything to prevent us from knowing now that we shall continue to exist, and to go ever upward, upward, upward. Nature permits us, in each sphere of being, to catch a glimpse of the succeeding one, if only we will not ourselves obstruct the view.”

A moment later he dropped into an animated, almost rhapsodical, running comment on some of the scenic beauties surrounding Hili-li.

“Imagine,” he said, “what the scenic effects must have been, everywhere within the illumination of that great lake of fire, covering an area of nearly two hundred square miles–that great lake of white, boiling, earthy matter, brilliantly lighting the long antarctic night. Think of those mountains, with the Olympian offshoot six miles in height; and of the peak called Mount Olympus, looming up ten thousand feet above even that great mountain-range. Try to picture the valleys, the chasms, the overhanging cliffs, the many smaller active craters, like mammoth watch-fires lighted on the mountain-tops in all directions; and the masses of glistening salt, thrown by upheavals of the earth high upon the mountain-side. Cannot you almost behold the scene? May we not, with the brush of fancy, paint for our mental vision many a strange, weird picture? Here we see, high on the mountain-front, a mass of crystal salt–many millions of tons–thrown, by a mere fillip of terrestrial power, thirty thousand feet above the ocean level, to rest and sparkle like a gem on the bosom of that old mountain-god, Olympus. Then, still higher, on the very summit–for even here, in the glare of this great crater, where evaporation rains upward from the sea, all vapor is quickly condensed and frozen on the higher peaks–we see, like the tresses of the aged, the pearly snow and ice overhanging the Olympian brow. Aye, may we not even–“

Well, dear reader, I expect to be censured. As Bainbridge drew toward what I suppose would, under any circumstances, have been his close, I was sitting with my face toward Arthur, and the actions of that unpolished gem told me that the catastrophe was at hand. Those who say that “the expected never happens” misinform us; for the expected very frequently does happen. The wretched boy did not–would not–look at me, and I could not, of course, interrupt the flow of eloquence that poured from the lips of Bainbridge. What could I have done? Even at this late day, I cannot see what I could have done, though I did know the nature of what was coming. It was the words “snow and ice” that added the last straw which broke the camel’s back, and let fall the load of annoyance; and as Bainbridge uttered the words, “Aye, may we not even—-,” Arthur, that miserable factotum, whom I had so rashly trusted, shot from his chair into the air; and, with arms waving, and eyes glistening with excitement, he fairly yelled:

“Great geewhilikin! Think of that ice, and that salt, and that climate! Now if a fellow only had a drove of Giganticus cows, with old Olympus for ’em to run over free, where would the other ice-cream fellows be? Free ice, free salt, free cream, free fodder, and no end of ’em all, too! Why, in that hot hole a man ‘ud be a ice-cream king in no time. Well, now! doesn’t that make your windows bulge? You’re a shoutin’, Doc. Please don’t speak again in the same language till I rest my mind, if you love me!”

I could not stop him. Frowning had no effect, and toward the end of his outburst I even protested in words. But it was no use. He spoke quickly, and he spoke very loudly, and not a word was lost on Bainbridge. Bainbridge had a fine sense of humor; but like many other humorists, he did not relish jocosities of which he was the subject. Any levity in any manner connected with Hili-li, I knew would be to him unendurable. He had from the beginning taken the Peters disclosures, and even the old sailor himself, very seriously. Little happenings during our stay at the old sailor’s home, which had brought a smile to my own face, had never for a moment altered the countenance of Bainbridge from the stern seriousness becoming that of one who is gathering facts of the most solemn import. I am positive that he would have taken with a poor grace the slightest levity from even myself on the subject of Hili-li. But from the bell-boy of a hotel! Olympus to become a pasture field for mastodon cows! Its ice and its saline wonders to be employed in the making of ice-cream!

Well, I just sat, and said nothing, and blamed myself. The thing was done, as it is said, and could not be undone. Doctor Bainbridge looked at me, with an injured but resigned expression, which seemed to say. “Well, you see you’ve done it; you _would_ allow the creature to drink in the nectar of refined literary production, and one of the natural results has followed.” He took up his hat, and more in grief than in anger, he made his adieux, and quietly walked out of the doorway, through the hallway, down the stairs, and out of the house. And a moment later I said:

“Now, young man, you probably see what you have done! We may, or we may not hear more of Lilama, of Pym, of Ahpilus, and the others. I am anxious to know what became of the poor fellow, Ahpilus; and I intend to find out, if I have to go to Peters for the information.” Then, as I saw the boy was really repentant; and when I began to consider the fact that he could not comprehend why Bainbridge should be offended, when no offence had been intended, I mentally threw all the blame upon myself, and added:

“But never mind; it does not amount to much. Doctor Bainbridge will probably be here to-morrow evening, and will, no doubt, have forgotten, or at least buried the incident. But after this, Arthur, you may come to me each morning, and as I dress I will tell you all about what the evening before I shall learn from the doctor. So, goodnight to you, and here is a dollar to help you start the ice-cream parlor.”


On the following evening, at his usual hour, Bainbridge entered my apartment; and after the customary greeting, seated himself. No mention was made of Arthur’s hapless interruption of the evening before, Bainbridge acting as if that miserable incident had not occurred.

“If I remember rightly,” he said, “we left Ahpilus lying with a broken back, and Peters standing by him, with Lilama crouching near; whilst on the opposite side of the chasm or canyon stood Pym, Diregus, and the boatman, who had accompanied the rescue party in their ascent of the mountain.

“After a moment of astonishment, Diregus inquired concerning the condition of Ahpilus; and Peters replied that the maniac not only lived, but was not in danger of dying; that he was scarcely conscious, however, and that even if fully aroused would in all probability not be able to walk–Peters knowing from personal experience with similar ‘accidents’ what the results were likely to be.

“When Lilama heard Peters’ statement, she approached the injured man–the friend of her childhood and her girlhood–and did what little she could to make his position at least appear more comfortable.

“There was no possible way for the divided party to unite, other than by returning several miles down the mountain-side. Now that Lilama was safe, and Ahpilus not only mentally alienated from his people but also physically helpless, a kindly feeling came to the party for their old friend thus reduced to a condition doubly lamentable, and very pitiable to persons so refined and sensitive as were the Hili-lites. There was some discussion on the subject of Ahpilus’s future; and then Peters said that he could easily carry the injured man down the mountain-side. This he at once began to do; and in the course of four or five hours, during which he stopped for a rest a number of times, he reached a point in the descent at which the canyon narrowed to a width of not more than ten feet, and across which a rude foot-bridge of logs had been constructed. Lilama, as well as those on the opposite side of the chasm, had kept pace with Peters; and the divided party now came together.

“Ahpilus was gently placed on the ground; and as his old friends gathered about him it was observed that not only had consciousness returned, but that the helpless man looked quite the Ahpilus of former and happier days. As his old friends looked into his eyes, those windows of the mind, they saw a soul unruffled, and at peace with nature.

“Then Diregus addressed to Ahpilus some words of inquiry; but it was soon apparent that the stricken man could answer no question relating to recent days, or even to the past year or two. In fact, Diregus soon recognized that Ahpilus knew nothing of his own past from a period antedating his exile to the present time. It appears that the nervous shock which accompanied the breaking of his spine had, in some way, dispelled his madness, and also those less maniacal, comparatively mild delusions which for several years had clouded and perverted his otherwise brilliant mind; so that he was again the same loving and lovable Ahpilus of former times; but in all the sixty or seventy years that he might yet live, he never again would be able to walk, or even to stand, unaided.

“The party of five, carrying the helpless man, sadly and silently continued on their way to Volcano Bay, which in the course of an hour they reached. There they found the other boatmen waiting for them, and, also, standing here and there in groups, a number of the exiles, among them Medosus. It had gone forth among these pariahs of Hili-liland, that something unusual was astir; and, fearing something, they knew not what, they had determined to observe the movements of the invading party. Diregus soon explained what had brought them to Olympus, and the results of their search. The exiles were at first quite unable to believe that Peters had crossed the chasm at the point stated, though lying was in Hili-li a lost art, the history of that country stating positively that but three adult liars (visitors excepted) had existed in Hili-li for five hundred years, the last of whom had, two centuries before, died. When the Olympians (as the exiles were generally in derision called) learned of Ahpilus’s condition, and of its cause, it appeared for a few moments that Peters would be attacked; but the soothing words of Pym and Diregus, and the presence of Lilama, whom they knew had been in extreme danger, as well as the expression on the face of Peters when he first grasped the idea that an attack upon him was imminent–all of these things together prevented trouble.

“When the party had made Ahpilus as comfortable as possible in the bottom of the boat, and had seated themselves preparatory to their return, Medosus stepped down to the shore, and asked Diregus if he would convey for the exiles a message to the King and Councillors of Hili-li, and also to the aged mystic, Masusaelili, who, though not an official, was in reality the chief adviser of those who did control the kingdom. Diregus, whose father was perhaps second only to the King–it was supposed by many that the Duke was the real power behind the throne, and it was within the range of reasonable possibility that his son, Diregus, might some day reign–replied that he must hear the message before making any promise. Then Medosus, knowing that his former friend and schoolmate was at heart in sympathy with the exiles, and did not really believe them to be in any way vicious (Diregus himself had twice offended, as had a majority of all Hili-lite youths, past and present; but he had not offended for a third time), spoke as follows:

“‘Say for us to His Majesty, and to the Honorable Councillors, that we, the so-called Exiles of Olympus, request our release, and also permission to return to Hili-li. In making this request we are not willing to say that we have ever in the past done to the State any serious wrong. We have, however, reached a time of life when we are willing to abjure the delights and benefits of wrestling, of ground-ball, of bat-ball, and of other athletic sports. We are willing to promise not again to visit the savages of surrounding islands–a rare sport. We regret the broken neck of young Selimus, which occurred during a game of ground-ball some three years ago, and we regret the accidental breaking of a few other bones; but we think these accidents no more deplorable than the death of Testube the scholar, or the blinding of the chemist, Amurosus–accidents which occurred whilst they were in their own laboratories, performing experiments of no material benefit, so far as we know, to the people of Hili-li. I might also allude to the lamentable death of Solarsistus, who some four years ago fell from his tower whilst observing the noted shower of falling meteors. And we ask these wise men–particularly Masusaeslili, whose mind is as cultivated as his body is neglected–what they think would become of the people of Hili-li if, at some future time, even so few as one thousand such men as these two strangers standing there should make war upon us, assuming that the decrees of those in power shall have been for a single generation faithfully observed. When the barbarian of the north overcame our ancestors in ancient Rome, it was only after indolent habits had sapped the physical power of the patrician; and when we here repelled with ease many times our number of barbarians, it was whilst yet our race was hardy from its combat with adverse forces in this then new land. We have not forgotten the strange power which Masusaelili is able to exert over a limited number of persons at one time. We are not unaware of the beneficent results of those laws and customs that compel the most of our people, between the ages of eighteen and fifty, to perform physical labor during twelve hours of each week; but we maintain that the elements of contest and danger are necessary concomitants of physical exertion, if we are to acquire and retain the manly quality of physical bravery, and that other quality so frequently wanting in him who is only a scholar–fortitude.

“‘Look,’ he continued, pointing to Peters. ‘There stands a man inured to physical danger. A few hours ago he was placed where prompt resolution was demanded to decide the fate of one of the loveliest creatures upon whom the light of yonder crater-fire ever shone–perhaps upon whom the sun ever shone; he had scarcely sixty seconds of time in which to determine whether she should die, or he should take the chance of a terrible death, with a hand-to-hand conflict, a powerful madman for an adversary, certain to confront him should his leap by a miracle prove successful. To have leaped over an abyss of half the width of that one, and then to have met an ordinary adversary, would have been a wonderfully brave deed. He decided promptly–and, too, he succeeded. No man in Hili-li could have done half as much, even had he dared attempt the feat.

“‘That, I think, is all,’ continued Medosus. ‘We have rarely found our rulers deaf to reasonable petitions, and we believe that they will, upon mature deliberation, annul our sentences of ten years’ banishment. If I do not overtax your time and your patience, I should like to ask you, Diregus, to suggest to your father and to Masusaelili this thought: Since the termination of those extended surveys which the State inaugurated and terminated after the departure of that ship which visited us about two hundred and fifty years ago, we have been aware that Hili-li is situated in a great inland sea, about twelve hundred miles in diameter, which sea contains from two hundred to three hundred islands, and in which our main island occupies a position some three hundred miles from the nearest mainland in one direction, and some nine hundred miles from the nearest mainland in another direction. We are also aware that the sailing vessel which came to us found an entrance through this vast ring-like continent, which entrance-way is only three hundred miles in width, and is the only means of access to this inland sea, except a narrower channel diametrically opposite to the broader one. The broader opening, in its main part, is traversed by warm currents outward, which remain warm until the continent is passed; and by one broad central warm current inward, which is very swift, and the source of the great warmth of which we have never been able to determine. The narrower passage, generally completely frozen, or choked with ice, conveys to the central sea only water at nearly the freezing temperature. The mainland consists chiefly of volcanic mountains, is apparently covered with ice, and is wholly impassable. Now, we have long thought ourselves safe from the outer world, as we really are from the savages of the other islands within this great sea. We know that in the first thousand years of our history there came to us once two wrecked sailors, and at another time a single sailor; then came the ship; and since then every ten to thirty years we have had some token, animate or inanimate, from the great beyond. But none that came, save the ship-load of two hundred and fifty years ago, ever left us; and those who sailed that vessel could not again have found us, had they tried during the remainder of their lives. Hence, our Councillors appear to think that we shall forever remain secreted here in safety. Now I only wish to suggest to those who are wiser, but whose minds are not like ours sharpened by hardship and solitude, that some great event in the vast outer world must have occurred preceding the visit of that ship. The conditions of the world have in some manner changed. Yet, whilst the vast ring-like continent of ice-covered volcanoes will long protect us, the warm strait will be discovered and mapped, and then design will carry to us many, over the same course by which chance has conveyed a few. As usual, I suppose, these two men will not be allowed to leave us. But in some way the outside world will learn of us and of our exhaustless supplies of these pebbles’ (he pointed to nuggets of gold lying on the shore of the bay), ‘which we know are the same as others in our museum, that our ancestors brought from Rome, and of which–so says our ancient history–one pebble the size of a fingerend would purchase a human captive! Some chance will carry to those people (no doubt the descendants of those barbarians who almost exterminated our Roman ancestors) a knowledge of this.’ Here Medosus picked from the ground a nugget of gold about the size of a large orange, and threw it carelessly from him into the bay. ‘Aurum,’ he said, disdainfully; ‘aurum, the curse of our ancestors! What would not the outer world endure to gain the ship-loads of this stuff that lie scattered over our volcanic islands? Stuff which we use only in building and for pavements, because it is easily worked, and bright, and lasting. What will our people do when ship-loads of men like these two strangers come to us? And, come, too, not almost starved and without weapons, but with spears, and practised arms to use their spears. Astuteness is a poor weapon, when it is the only weapon, against men who are maddened with avarice: bravery, physical power, fortitude; the strong arm, backed by the quick eye, and the mind inured to danger–these, in such a time of need, will alone avail to protect our lives, our land, and our homes from a ruthless foe.

“‘Pardon my prolixity; but, as I talked, I became more interested in the fate of my countrymen, even than in that of my fellow-exiles and myself. You understand me, my old friend? I know that you will speak for us. Good-by.’

“And then wishing the exiles good-by, the party in the boat moved from the shore–at first by paddle-power; but on reaching the outlet of Volcano Bay the sails of their boat were spread for the run across the open sea.”

Here Doctor Bainbridge paused for a moment in his narration, lighted a cigar, took a whiff or two, and then continued:

“You must pardon me for entering so fully into the affairs of Medosus and his fellow-exiles. It was only by tact and patience that, little by little, I gathered from Peters the facts. My excuse for this verbosity is, that from the speech of Medosus–whose words show that he supposed Pym and Peters would never be allowed to leave Hili-li–we obtain, better than from all other sources of information which were opened to Peters, an insight of the geographical knowledge, and of many of the peculiarities, of a strange, isolated people–a people which, beyond all doubt, I think, is descended from the pure imperial Roman stock; and also because it explains the means by which the exiles afterward obtained their liberty, and were thus enabled to assist their relatives and friends in the City of Hili-li, at a time when, though of brief duration, the islands of Hili-li were threatened with depopulation. It seems that the message of Medosus, joined with the lesson of Lilama’s abduction, carrying as it did a suggestion of future possibilities should the exiles continue to increase in number whilst growing more reckless, and at the same time no strangers be at hand to assist in overcoming them–these considerations, and the influence of Pym, who described the quality of English, German, French, and American soldiers that were produced in lands where, he said, sports and games similar to those of Hili-li (he explained the nature of sparring, cricket, etc.) were in no manner restricted by law. (This, you will remember, was in the year 1828.)

“The rescue party were met at the Duke’s landing by all the residents of the palace, and by many relatives and friends of Lilama, who had gathered to receive her. As soon as Peters’ wonderful feat was explained, he became the hero of the island.

“The Hili-lites showed themselves in one respect much like other races. They had no sooner decided to rescind the interdict against the hitherto obnoxious athletic games, than all classes began to patronize these sports, and immediately they became very popular; and to the other games was added that of contests at leaping. Some of the feats performed at this time by Peters were certainly astonishing. One of his performances which took place during an exhibition in the presence of the elite of Hili-li, was to leap from an improvised platform, placed eighty feet above the ground, grasp the limb of a tree which projected about thirty feet beneath and several feet away from the platform, instantly drop to another limb, twenty-five feet lower, and then to the ground. To an observer he appeared to jump from the platform, to strike one limb and then another in his descent, and to fall, a mass of bruised flesh and broken bones, upon the earth; the real climax being when, instead, he fell lightly on his feet, and walked away to prepare for his next act in this public display.

“But we must hasten on. And before proceeding to subjects of greater interest, I will tell at once what was the future of Ahpilus. He had when a boy been noted for a love of study, and now when he could no longer walk, he turned his attention to literary pursuits. Masusaelili took an interest in the unfortunate young man, and allowed him at first to be brought occasionally to the studio which the reader has already visited, and later to become an assistant in his researches. Peters and Pym felt very kindly to the poor fellow, and evinced their regard by inventing and making for him a sort of chair on two main wheels and a small third wheel, upon which he could sit and guide himself with ease and comfort from place to place in the city, and that, too, with quite as great speed as he had in the past been able to attain by walking. The last thing heard of him by Peters was, that he had begun a history of the Hili-lite people, from the settlement of Hili-li to 1828. And this reminds me to say that, to Pym and Peters, one of the strangest things in Hili-li was their count of time, which appeared the same as our own. It was not in fact the same, however, though Peters insists that it was; for whilst we, of course, count time according to the Gregorian calendar, the Hili-lites must have counted time according to the Julian calendar. This would have placed the Hili-lites about eleven days in arrear of Pym’s count–a difference which, under the circumstances, Peters might easily have overlooked.

“Not many weeks after the rescue of Lilania, she and Pym were married according to the usual form of Hili-li. The wedding ceremony was a very quiet one. I have thought that perhaps the customs of Hili-li might account for the lack of any festivity; and, again, that the Ahpilus incident may have precluded all social gaiety at such a time, the injured man being still in a precarious condition.”

Here Bainbridge paused for a moment, took a turn or two across the floor, relit the long-neglected cigar that he held in his fingers, seated himself, and continued:


It is pleasant to dwell on this period in the life of young Pym. We think of his home on the far-away island of Nantucket, with the loving mother, the proud father, the doting old grandfather–all cast aside, and probably forever, by the momentary folly of a boy; then of his connection with the ship-mutiny–unquestionably one of the most horrible positions in which it is ever the fate of man to stand; the death of his friend and his friend’s father; the shipwreck, and the long, lonely days of watching, in hunger and thirst, for a sail; the final loss of all companions save a gorilla-like half-breed, whose animal instinct of love and fidelity fell about the poor boy like a protecting garment. Then comes this bright spot in his life away in Hili-liland, like a momentary rift in the clouds of a stormy day. For Pym the sun shone with a heavenly effulgence, whilst the obstructions of a dire destiny were for a time removed; but when again the clouds closed between him and the brightness of existence, they closed forevermore. Yet this mere boy, into whose life hardship and danger had introduced more than the experience of most old men, enjoyed, too, what many very aged men never have possessed–what Alexander the Great never possessed–that of which wealth or other source of power seems actually to deprive many men. He enjoyed what was worth more than all that ambition backed by wealth and power can give–that is, the faithful love of a beautiful woman, loved truly in return. This boy was loved by one who was capable with her witching loveliness of satisfying every desire, enthralling the imagination, rousing in the heart that passion which inspires the mind to regions where it throbs in harmony with the Divine, and touches–as might some dying desert-waif with his parched lips a cooling fountain–the very source of love itself. But the most of human love–how debased and debasing, how vile! God, for purposes of His own, links for mankind the Aphroditic passion to the love Divine. The two are separable, and man assuredly separates them. True love may be witnessed as low in the scale of life, and as high, as consciousness is found. We find it in the heart of the faithful animal that dies on a loved master’s grave, howling in anguish its life away. And we find it in the purity of woman’s heart, where it rests ready for the contact that is to ignite it into illumination forever. Woman herself is divine. Man has placed her everywhere, sometimes behind the barred doors of a harem, sometimes on the throne of empire; but he has not blotted out the divine.

“With Pym it may not have been a love that would have carried him safely into and through a beatific old age–or it may have been; we choose to think that it was a growth that would have bloomed perennially. It was, I think, such a love as every man of imagination feels to be a mountain of wealth beside which all else is dwarfed to utter nothingness–a concretion from the endless and eternal ocean of love–a glimpse into that paradise where exists the Almighty, who is Love.

“I should judge from what Peters knows well enough, but which I gleaned by patient toil from that wicked though unsophisticated old segment of intelligence, that these two young persons had a most delightful, though extremely peculiar, wedding journey. The months had flown, until it was again December–the antarctic midsummer month, in which, and the greater part of January, there is no night.

“At this, the delightful season of the antarctic year, a beautiful yacht-like vessel was equipped; and with Peters as captain, and four men under his orders; Lilama, and a lady friend, with two maids; and Pym, accompanied by his now close friend, Diregus, the journey began.

“To Peters’ mind, the most remarkable part of this pleasure excursion, was the extreme differences in climatic conditions which the party experienced within the range of a single day’s, or even a single hour’s travel. In December and January, Hili-li was so warm as scarcely to be habitable–certainly not comfortably habitable for natives of the central temperate zone of North America; yet at this same period of time, there was a small island on the meridian of Hili-li, and only thirty miles from the large surface-crater, on which the temperature was about 65 deg. F. There was, just across ‘The Mountain’–as the Hili-lites frequently spoke of the rings of mountain-ranges surrounding the central crater–an island of somewhat greater area, upon which ice was at all times to be found at a few feet above sea-level, and which, during eight months of the year, was so cold that no animal life could have existed upon it. Then, at variable distances from the crater, and in different directions, islands were to be found of almost any desired temperature. The wealthier Hili-lites owned summer residences on these out-lying islands, situated at sailing distances varying from an hour to six hours’ travel from Hili-li.

“The wedding-party, owing to the social position or the personal qualities of its members–which included official rank, hereditary prestige, beauty, mental culture, and preternatural prowess–was everywhere warmly welcomed. It was expected, received with open arms, and every source of entertainment was exhausted to make its visit at each island enjoyable.

“The party visited the island owned by Lilama, where they found the temperature quite cold, but the island comfortably habitable. It was at about the same distance from the crater as was Hili-li; and was so situated as to be of nearly one temperature all the year round. They found at work there a body of men, numbering not more than fifteen or twenty. It seems that upon making a trial of the various islands as a home for the descendants of the animals brought south by the original settlers, it was found that upon this island conditions were the best for raising sheep for their wool; and from the wool raised, Lilama’s income was much greater than from the precious stones found there later, though precious stones were found on no other island in Hili-liland. Peters knows next to nothing, either theoretically or practically, of geology; but he says this island looked very different from the others in that region, and that its mountainous central portion appeared altogether different from any other of the mountains in Hili-liland. Asked to say if he had ever seen a mountain-range which Lilama’s mountain resembled, he replied, but could not say why he so thought, that it reminded him of various parts of the Appalachian range.

“In strolling about the island, the party entered a small warehouse in which the precious stones were kept. Peters says that the gems which he there saw were of all sizes up to a large hen-egg, and of all colors except green. He particularly remembers being given several beautiful specimens, including blue, red, yellow, violet, gray, and white stones, all transparent; a black stone, and a brown-gray opaque stone. These were, of course, the sapphire, ruby, topaz, amethyst, and other varieties of corundum, the islands evidently containing no emeralds or diamonds. Lilama selected from a tray a stone the color of pigeon-blood, and about the size of an English walnut, which she handed to Pym as she might have handed him a beautiful rose. In Europe or America this stone would have purchased a fair-sized town.

“Peters described a strange natural phenomenon that exists on an island not more than half a mile in length, which the party visited after leaving Lilama’s island. Near the centre of this last-mentioned island, says Peters, is a volcanic mountain about four thousand feet in height, with an extinct crater reaching down through the centre of the mountain to within a hundred feet of the sea-level, and, at its lower part, communicating with the outer surface by a tunnel some ten feet in diameter. Upon entering, by means of the tunnel, this sunken crater, a gallery was found, ascending spirally by at least twenty turns to the extreme peak of the mountain. The diameter of the crater was about one hundred feet at the bottom, about two hundred feet at the top–the diameter widening at each complete circuit of the gallery by from eight to twelve feet, the breadth of the gallery varying from four feet to six. Looking from below at the opening above, the spot of sky, says Peters, looked like the full moon. The length of the gallery, as its gradient is about forty-five degrees, must be about a mile and a half. Out of the gallery, at several points in the ascent, passes a small side-tunnel, communicating with the exterior.

“On still another island, about a hundred miles from Hili-li, but on about the same meridian–that is to say, in the same warm air-current, though the heat of the current was there much diminished by dilution–the party visited certain ruins which had always greatly puzzled the Hili-lites. The island was quite large, and was covered with agricultural farms, from which a single crop was taken each year. The ruins were quite uninjured by time; and one small stone structure was so complete as to be scarcely more dilapidated in appearance than would be any other old and neglected stone building in Hili-li. The stone of which the various structures were composed had never in all the centuries of their residence there been found by the Hili-lites elsewhere than in these buildings; the supposition being that it came from the great surrounding continent. But, after all, the real peculiarity of these buildings was in their architecture. The difficulty of obtaining from Peters any architectural facts, you will never appreciate unless you attempt, as I have done, to procure such information. He declares that in these buildings were neither columns nor arches; and he also declares that the absence of arches and columns he knows, not only from his own observation, but because that fact was alluded to in his presence by the Hili-lite members of the party; yet he is equally certain that in one of the larger of the ruins the roof was intact. How a roof could be supported without reasonable vertical resistance, and without arch resistance, I am unable to say; and it is wholly improbable that the walls in a building of its dimensions could, without an arch, support a roof. The Hellenes, you recall, were very artful in hiding from observation the arch, though they frequently employed it. I admit that I must have greatly bored old man Peters over this subject of architecture; and as I myself know next to nothing of the subject, technically, and he knows absolutely nothing of it, technically or otherwise, and as he took no interest in the ruins even when they were before his eyes, you will understand that my information concerning these ruins is not very clear. It was also utterly impossible for me to gain from the old man data upon which to base an opinion as to the style of architecture of these structures. The buildings generally were very large, very beautiful, and constructed in a style entirely distinct from any known ancient style–that is, for instance, they were not Hellenic, or Egyptian, or Assyrian, or Roman. This much the Hili-lites knew and said. Then, further, there were inscriptions in characters unknown to the world at the time of the barbarian overflow into the Roman Empire, and also unknown to Pym. In one of the ruins was a large window made of blue and yellow transparent corundum, in which appeared an inscription made by a setting of rubies.

“What a strange world, in which entire races come and go, some of them leaving a ruin or two, and perhaps an odd indecipherable inscription here and there! The world was fortunate indeed to grasp, from the obliterated and forgotten past, Hebraism and Hellenism–the moral and the beautiful; from which man’s craving for goodness has resulted in Christianity; and from which his impulses of sweetness and brightness and loveliness have developed the Renascence! Between goodness and beauty, why should there ever be conflict? Pure goodness is pure love, and love is almost synonymous with beauty.–But, pardon the digression.

“The tour of the islands comprising Hili-liland continued through December and January. I could tell you much of the social gayeties in many a bright country-home during these two months; but in these Peters was not much interested, and I could not get from him many of the particulars. Thus far I have striven to keep all facts unpolluted by any possible alloy of my own imagination–let me continue to be, in word and in spirit, true to the facts. Were I to attempt a description of these island festivities in faraway Hili-liland, perhaps, inadvertently–the facts being meagre–I might say something bordering on untruth; and, rather than untruth–a thousand times rather–silence.

“I will close for this evening by saying that the wedding-party arrived at the island of Hili-li about February 1st–the year being 1829. Some time before starting on the tour, Lilama had begun the construction of a new home; and by the time of her return it was completed. Her new residence was not large, but it was elegant. Here the happy couple dwelt, Peters having an apartment to himself which was enough to set a sailor wild with joy. Peters says that he grew to like very much what he calls ‘volcano tobacco;’ that it was ‘good and strong’–to his taste all the better for that. The only mistake that Lilama’s architect made in his plan for her new home was in not having Peters’ apartment either on the roof, or else next door. Peters now smokes American tobacco; and even now–but let the past go; I did not sit on the edge of the old sailor’s bed for thirty hours for nothing. Tomorrow evening I shall tell you of the great catastrophe which occurred on the island of Hili-li during the visit of Pym and Peters.”

Here Bainbridge closed his recital for the evening. I believe that he would have remained for at least a few minutes longer; but as he was about to reply to a question of mine, Castleton rushed into the room, and Bainbridge departed.

Castleton, who was overflowing with joyous excitement, informed me that the dreaded yellow fever of the South was on its way North; and that if I would delay my return to England for a week or ten days I could see it. His remark did not much alarm me. Then I proceeded to tell him in outline what had become of Ahpilus, of the marriage of Lilama and Pym, and of the wedding-tour of the islands. As I closed, he said:

“Young man, you will soon be returning to England, that lordly nation to whose hind-quarters the sun is kinder than to its head-quarters. When you get home tell your countrymen of the discoveries you have here made. Tell them of the wonders of Hili-li–but be careful. This fellow Bainbridge is a romantic youth, and he is liable to lead you astray in some important respects. Tell your noble countrymen of the central crater–that, no doubt, Peters saw; as to the Hili-lites being descendants of the pure stock of ancient Rome, that, too, I believe. But do not repeat this foolish theory about love which he introduces into Peters’ narrative. The wise, practical, and puissant residents of that Corinthian Capital of Brains–I refer to London–will know better. Oh, yes; women are true!–very true! Better than wealth–pshaw! better than empire–pooh! That nonsense will pass at twenty-five; at forty a man has some brains. The ‘constancy’ of women–that gets me! Why, sir, I once loved three women at the same time, and not one of the three was true to me–yet Bainbridge talks of a woman’s constancy, single-heartedness, and such chimerical stuff–the kind of stuff, that, with youth, takes the place of the recently discarded nursery fiction. I think of the hundreds of women that I have loved, beginning in my early boyhood, passing through my adolescence to the acme of my powers, and even now as I stand on the verge of my desuetude! Surely some one of these many women would have been constant, if women have any constancy in their make-up. Show me a woman howling out her life on _my_ grave, and then I’ll believe Bainbridge. But I know all about Bainbridge. I know where he goes the evenings that he doesn’t come here. Never mind–I’m silent as the grave. I don’t need to tell a man of your superlative acumen what Bainbridge’s talk implies. He mustn’t talk to me though about woman’s constancy and single-heartedness till he’s ten years older; let him tell that stuff to Peters and the other mariners.”

After some further talk, Castleton remarked:

“It seems, then, according to Bainbridge, that we moderns owe about all we have to the Jew and the Dago! Now, men less intelligent than you and I, after looking at the average Jew and Dago as seen to-day in the United States, would doubt this assertion. I cannot dispute it, however; for through the ancient Jew certainly came Christianity, and through the ancients in Greece and Italy our art.”

He paused for a moment, and then continued:

“A delightfully euphonious set of names those Hili-lites possess. The name _Hi_li-_li_ is not bad itself: _Hi_li-_li_, _Hi_li-_lite_, _Hi_li-_li_land–pretty good. _Li_-la-ma, Ah-_pe_-lus, Di-_re_-gus, Me-_do_-sus, Ma-_su_-se-_li_-la–all pretty fair. I have no doubt that Bainbridge would spell them so as to produce a Latin appearance. And this reminds me of a certain name not Latin.”

I saw that the doctor was about to recount a “personal experience.” He continued:

“One day a stranger came to our town–a plain, clean-looking, blue-eyed sort of scientific fellow from somewhere so far out in the suburbs of Europe that the name of his country or province has wholly slipped my memory–a mighty rare thing, by the by, and it always galls me when I forget anything. This chap came here to look at coal, or to hammer rocks, or to look for curiosities. Well, he ran up against me. Don’t ask me his name–I believe he spelled it S-c-h-w-o-j-k-h-h-j-z-y-t-y-h-o B-j-h-z-o-w-h-j-u-g-h-s-c-h-k-j. One day he asked me to introduce him to a certain Bellevue capitalist. The fellow had pleased me, and I agreed to do the introducing–partly, I admit, to see whether a man that gutteralled his words out of his stomach could swindle one of our own sharpers that talked through his nose. But now came the rub: how was I to introduce a man when I couldn’t utter his name? I used to practice at pronouncing that name as I rode around in my buggy, but it was no go. At last the day came when I was to introduce the fellow with a surplus of knowledge, to the fellow with a surplus of cash. That morning I awoke with the worst sorethroat of my life. I felt as if I had two boiled potatoes in my throat. The passage from my nose to my windpipe was closed for repairs, and that from my mouth to my throat was seven-eighths closed. Pretty soon, just from recent habit, I began to practise on the scientific chap’s name. Great Scott! I could pronounce it better than its owner could. There were certain grunts and sneezes in the name–particularly one syllable between a grunt and a sneeze–that I suppose no Anglo-Saxon had ever before or has ever since uttered correctly; but they were nothing to me, so long as my sorethroat lasted.”

Then Castleton rushed from the room; calling back from the head of the stairs, and in tones intentionally audible to every man and woman on that floor of the hotel:

“It’s coming, sir, depend upon it–the genuine yellow fever–evaded the New Orleans quarantine three weeks ago–three cases at Shreveport and two at Memphis reported–talk, too, of a case in St. Louis. Heavens! but I hope a beneficent Creator will not allow some other doctor to get the first case, when, happily, it shall have reached Bellevue.”

The last sentence was uttered _sotto voce_, as he descended the stairs.


“It appears,” continued Bainbridge, on the following evening, “that Hili-li was subject to the recurrence about once in forty-seven years of a strange thermic phenomenon, the mean duration of which was about fifty hours. This change had occurred twenty-one times in the preceding thousand years; its duration had once been as brief as thirty hours, and at another time had lasted one hundred and twenty hours. The interval between two of its visitations had once been somewhat less than eight years; whilst at the period of Pym and Peters’ presence in Hili-li, it had not occurred for eighty-six years and some months. For some reason that could not be conjectured, at these times the wind-currents, generally varying but slightly in force and duration, changed, the wind coming from a point of the compass almost diametrically opposite to its usual direction, and increasing in velocity and force to that of a tempest or blizzard. The result was, that in a very few hours the temperature of Hili-li fell to about zero Fahrenheit, if in December or January; to 60 deg. or 70 deg. Fahrenheit below freezing, if in July or August. During the first few hours of the change, owing to the extremely moist state of the atmosphere for many miles in all directions from the crater of Hili-li, there occurred a heavy snowfall–which, however, diminished as the temperature fell, until at somewhat above the zero point it ceased.

“The government of Hili-li, by laws and by the encouragement of custom, did much to prevent damage from these storms–which, as I have intimated, were a combination of hurricane and snow-storm, with a very sudden and rapid fall of temperature; and when the interval between two of them was not greater than twenty years, the provisions made by the state were ample to prevent loss of life. By the law of the land, residence houses had to be built in such a manner that at least one room in each house could be warmed by a fire. Fire for purposes of warmth was never in Hili-li required, except during these storms; and all cooking was done on a peculiar stove made chiefly of gold, the fuel of which was either fish oil, or another oil termed by the boatmen who sold it ‘continent oil’–or, rather, by a name corresponding in the Hili-li language to those words in the English. The law further provided that on the premises of each home wood should be kept, ready for use, in chests of a size convenient for two persons to carry into the room in which it was to be burned. By this means, the worst that could happen to a family was that its members might suddenly at any time be confined to a single room, comfortably warmed, for from thirty to a hundred hours, or thereabouts. Even if there should be very little food in any one home, or if the wood supply should be neglected, the next door neighbor could be relied upon for succor.

“Ninety-four years prior to the summer that now concerns us, a cold spell had occurred after an interval of eighty-one years, which lasted a hundred and ten hours, and during which one-third of the inhabitants of Hili-li, between hunger and cold, lost their lives. Not more than one hundred persons remembered the last preceding storm, and they must have been very young children when it occurred; and even they felt no alarm on the subject, as the storm preceding it had happened about sixteen years earlier, and, though a light one, was sufficient to alarm both the rulers and the masses, and resulted in a state of preparedness for the next storm. But now, the middle-aged men knew of these cold spells only as matters of history, to which they gave little practical attention; and from the lips of their grandparents, who, as I have said, had never personally known one of them to cause serious distress or loss of life.

“On the morning of February 17, 1829, there was not on the Island of Hili-li a single residence which had the wood-supply contemplated by the forgotten statute relating to that subject; there were few homes that had in store food sufficient for more than forty-eight hours use; and, though most families were in possession of some oil, their cook-stoves were not constructed for heating, and were connected with flues in outbuildings; and, further, there was not enough oil on the island to have warmed the city at such a time for twenty-four hours.

“It must also be remembered that the Hili-lites were accustomed to a temperature, all the year through, year in and year out, of 90 deg. to 108 deg. Fahrenheit scale; and that for a resident of England, or of the United States above the latitude of Washington City, a temperature of ten degrees below zero would be quite as well borne as would a temperature of thirty degrees above zero by these islanders. There was little physical and mental inurement to cold, and the lightest of clothing was worn. A resident of Hili-li, when business compelled him to visit an island on which the temperature was cold enough to freeze water, prepared himself personally for the journey as would a Swede or Norwegian for a journey of exploration to the North Pole.

“In the night between February 16th and 17th, Peters, who was in the habit in Hili-li of sleeping _in puris naturalibus_, awoke in a shiver. He arose, and closing his window-sash began to look around his room for bed-covering; but he found only a sheet, and a very fine wool bedspread, which he drew over him as he once more assumed a recumbent position. He again fell asleep; but in an hour awoke, shivering harder than before. He then dressed, and lighting his pipe, walked up and down the floor. Then he looked from the window, and saw that a fine snow was falling, the separately almost invisible flakes whirling in sharp spirals as they fell. The sailor instinct–the aptitude of the navigator–instantly told him what this thermic change meant for Hili-li. Others in the house were now moving about, and Peters sought them out. Pym did not seem at once to realize the danger; and Lilama said she had heard of these storms, but did not think that they lasted long. All except Peters were wrapped in shawl-like garments, and some of the servants had about their forms light rugs which they had taken from the floors. Soon, however, all except Pym and Peters were shivering; and every article of covering obtainable was in use. Lilama told a maid to bring out her dresses and wrappers, which she divided among the servants, each donning several garments. Peters, stoical, but always on the alert, called Pym aside, and explained to him that this change meant nothing less than the devastation of Hili-li–that the temperature was steadily falling, the wind increasing, and that the storm was only beginning. Pym could not but perceive that the cold was due to a pronounced alteration in the direction of wind-currents; and that under the circumstances the cold would of necessity increase to the point of normal antarctic temperature–no doubt below zero–unless the wind should before then change. Quickly his mind grasped the circumstances in which they were placed. They were on an island, situated in water navigable at all seasons and hours, with the chief food-supply on near-by islands, and each day brought to Hili-li for that day’s consumption; they were in a city practically without fuel; the inhabitants were accustomed to heat, and wholly unused to cold; the houses were built without protection against cold, because, except occasionally for a few hours at a time, there were no climatic conditions demanding such a construction. Further, the climate being very warm, there was not–except in the possession of a hundred men whose business took them on visits to islands lying outside of the crater-warmed air-currents–a heavy wrap of any kind, such as overcoat, cloak, or shawl, in the entire city. Carpets were not known in Hili-li, so it would be impossible for the hard-pressed people to retire to bed, where, covering the body with a few sheets and some clothing, they might add the carpets, and, in hunger but in safety, remain protected against those freezing blasts till the wind should change. Pym comprehended the terrible position in which Lilama and the other Hili-lites stood; the extremity of desolation which must soon prevail standing out before him like a vivid picture, and for a moment overawing even his brave, true soul. He did not doubt that Peters and himself could withstand the cold, though they might not be able to obtain more than a flimsy shelter from the biting antarctic winds. He scarcely thought of himself–he thought only of Lilama, and, in a measure, of the other residents of the beautiful, stricken city. Exposure to danger had made Pym in times of trouble a rapid thinker, and the thoughts which I have mentioned passed through his mind in less than a minute of time. Then he turned to Lilama, and asked if there was beneath the house a cellar. Fortunately there was–the house was one of the few in Hili-li beneath a portion of which a cellar was constructed as a depository, and as a protection against heat for certain articles of food, most of the residents not caring to construct cellars; articles of food easily destructible by heat being twice daily brought to the city and distributed to the houses, and ice costing only the expense of shipping it by water some six or eight hours’ sailing distance.

“Pym and Peters moved about the house, making certain arrangements so rapidly as to startle the languid Hili-lites. In ten or fifteen minutes they had removed to the cellar all the necessary furniture of a comfortable room, including a bedstead for Lilama, and another for her two maids. Three lamps were taken to the cellar, lighted, and oil sufficient for a week’s consumption placed conveniently near. The house contained enough food to sustain Lilama, and the women servants, for from six to eight days. Within twenty minutes of the time Peters had suggested to Pym the danger of freezing to be apprehended, Lilama and her maids were safely placed in the cellar, and were making merry over their strange surroundings and attire. Then Pym and Peters hastened from the house, to see what could be done for others.

“And now was witnessed the influence on man, of heredity and environment, and the insurmountable difficulties in the way, even under the most pressing need, of overcoming such influence. The Hili-lites in more than a thousand years had fought only one battle, and that five hundred years before; nor had they found necessary any struggle for food, or against rigorous climate. They were a brainy people, and were almost superhumanly perceptive in every sense organ and in every nerve. But they were wanting in that quality possessed by most European peoples and by Americans, which takes practical cognizance of the fact that prompt action and fearlessness is the true protection against danger. In the face of this great calamity among the Hili-lites, even the leading men seemed paralyzed. Not that they displayed a particle of fear–it was simply not in them to move rapidly, and to face joyfully great dangers. With them, when mental processes failed to subdue, there was not much left. They could have conquered a modern warship, provided they could have come in contact with its officers, by controlling in some strange way the minds of those men; but against a storm, or the course of inanimate nature in any other direction, they were as powerless as any other people, and their sense of powerlessness was paralyzing to them. On the other hand, Pym and Peters had sprung from races that had in the past thousand years gone through hundreds of struggles, amid every kind of danger, for existence; and Peters, on the mother’s side, she being an American Indian, belonged to a race which had gone through what was infinitely worse than a barbarian invasion–namely, a ‘civilized’ and ‘enlightened’ invasion. These two men seemed to court danger–to revel in it; but in reality they pursued the course which exposed them to the least risk of injury consistent with the performance of their full duty. The question was one of method in procedure to save the greatest number of lives; and they hastened first to the residence of Lilama’s uncle and cousin–to the home of the Duke and Diregus.”


Arriving there, they found the Duke and Diregus quite actively engaged–for Hili-lites; still, very much valuable time was being wasted. Already the snow had ceased to fall, and the temperature, Peters thinks, must have reached ten degrees below freezing, and was rapidly falling. In the ducal palace there were, in two or three rooms, hearths, and flue-openings for carrying off smoke; but as there was no wood ready for burning, and as there seemed to be no dry wood in sight, the Duke and his son were at the end of their resources as soon as they had gathered together into a safe place food sufficient to last for a week or ten days. Fortunately the palace was unusually well stocked with edibles.

When Pym and Peters arrived, their cool manner and prompt action exhaling confidence with every look and movement, the Duke and Diregus were soon enlivened, as in fact were all others who came in contact with these two active and intrepid strangers.

Pym glanced about him, compassing at a look all possible resources. Then he issued his orders, himself working with the others, and, so to speak, ‘setting the pace.’ In ten minutes a large outbuilding–similar to our summer-houses, or Anglo-Saxon kiosks–was razed to the ground, broken in pieces, and placed in the rooms, in which fires were soon glowing and crackling. In twenty minutes, those whom Pym and Peters had found half-frozen and wholly discouraged, were cheerful, comfortable, and out of danger.

The two men hastened forth through the city, giving assistance and advice, and infusing confidence. The smaller residences, as well as many of those of medium size, were constructed of wood. Pym went rapidly through the city, ordering that one house in each square be demolished, and the wood divided–but haste! haste! The temperature was rapidly declining to a point at which a Hili-lite, even when actively at work, could not exist.

Pym and Peters might, unaided, have reached one-tenth of the people of Hili-li, and have shown them the way to safety. As many more, possibly, might have found other means of saving themselves. It seems improbable that more than one-fourth of the people of Hili-li would have survived this terrible storm, had Pym and Peters not been reinforced.

“Let no man, in his finite weakness, ever question the methods of Infinite Wisdom, which is Infinite Goodness. At the very time when every moment gained by Pym and Peters meant the saving of a hundred more lives–at the very moment when two additional men, hardy and inured to danger, would have doubled the life-saving force, four hundred of the ‘Exiles of Olympus’ arrived in the city. They had left behind them warmth and safety, and sailing across thirty miles of tempestuous sea, had come, headed by Medosus, to try to save their fellow-countrymen. These four hundred men, young and vigorous, comprised the real enterprise and daring of Hili-li. They had been promised their liberty, and their visits, individually, to Hili-li had recently been not only allowed but even encouraged by those in authority; but the final act permitting them to return had been, by the formalities of state, delayed.

“Pym, Peters, and Medosus consulted for a moment, and then the exiles divided into a hundred parties of four each, and systematically scattered through the city, doing the work of giants. Finally the exiles established a hundred stations, selecting for the purpose large rooms, in which they built hearths of lava-blocks taken from the streets, in most of the houses the hearths being placed in the centre of an upper room, and an opening directly above cut through the roof. At each of these stations one exile at a time took charge of the fire, whilst the other three of the party in charge scoured the neighborhood for persons that might in the first desultory search have been overlooked. Then, when all seemed provided for, the exiles, protecting their bodies with such additional clothing as those now cared for could spare, went forth in search of food, to the deserted houses, and to such depots of supply as the city possessed.

“The work of rescue being thoroughly inaugurated, Pym had a moment in which his mind might roam from the work immediately in hand; and he thought of the aged mystic, Masusaelili. The old man resided in a spot so retired that the various rescue parties might easily have overlooked him; and the temperature was now probably fifty degrees below freezing. Fortunately, at the instant he thought of the old philosopher, he and Peters were near the city limits, and within a third of a mile of Masusaelili’s home; and starting off at a brisk run, the two were five minutes later in the old man’s house, standing outside his laboratory door. As the two had hurried along, Peters would continue to murmur against the project: ‘What’s the use,’ he would growl; ‘we’ll only find the old fellow roasting himself in front of a magic fire of burning snow or ice. _He’s_ all right, and we’d better be saving human people.’

“As several raps, increasing from the gentlest to the most vigorous, elicited no response, Pym opened the laboratory door, and with Peters entered. But the old man was nowhere to be seen. Pym hastily returned to the hallway, and discovering a stair leading to a small cellar, he descended. The cellar was filled with _debris_, two small window casements opening to the exterior air were broken and decayed to the last degree of dilapidation, and the icy wind whistled through the rubbish of the doleful spot. He ran back to the laboratory, where Peters was hunting about, hoping to find Masusaelili alive, yet fearing to find his emaciated form lying lifeless amid the mass of chemical and mechanical appliances which littered the room. Several of the large vase-like objects before alluded to stood here and there; and as the smaller of them might have hidden the body of a large-sized man, the searchers even glanced into them. Each vase sat apart upon the floor, flaring upward like a giant lily to a height of four or five feet; and from each of them projected, within an inch of the floor, a faucet of rude construction, through which passed a very primitive spigot. One of these enormous vases, large enough to have secreted two small men, stood inverted; and Pym, with no particular object in view, but simply because he could not think of anything else to do, gave the vase a push, in such a way as to raise for an inch or two from the floor its large rim, flaring out to a diameter of probably four feet.

“‘Put that down,’ came a hollow and stridulous voice, so unexpected and startling to Pym that he withdrew his hand, allowing the vase to drop back to the floor with a resounding thud.

“‘If thou hast aught of importance to impart, ‘continued the voice–that of Masusaelili–still stridulous, but now having also the quality possessed by a voice heard through a speaking-tube, ‘put thy mouth near to the spigot-hole, and disclose thine errand.’

“Pym placed his lips within an inch of the open faucet, which was only an inch or two lower than his mouth as he stood beside the vase, and from the opening of which came a fog-like vapor, similar in appearance to that exhaled from the mouth and nostrils on a very cold day, and said:

“‘We came, sir, to offer our help–to procure for you wood, and, if possible, food; or, if you should so prefer, to remove you in safety to comfortable quarters.’

“For a moment there was silence, during which the fog-like vapor continued to come from the spigot-hole of the inverted vase. Then the voice of the aged mystic was again heard in reply:

“‘Youth–and thine ape-like companion–go hence. Through three and fifty of these storms have I safely passed. Beneath this vase have I two lamps, alight; oil wherewith to supply with fuel these two lamps for a space of eight days, which hitherto has been the longest duration of any of these periodical storms; food and water have I sufficient for my body’s wants for a week. And, too, have I mental aliment; for have I here a manuscript written by the youthful sage, AEgyptus, who sent it to me by the hand of Azza, long before the legend of Romulus started from its mythic source to float adown the stream of time: a manuscript which it delighteth my soul once in each century to peruse. Fear not for one who knows no fear. Go hence, and quickly go–go with humiliation in thy heart; for thou hast not yet begun to live, and yet thou presumest to think in danger one who helped to plan and to construct what thou callest the ancient city of Babylon. Youth, when thou didst disturb me, I was reading from my friend, who writes from a village called Sakkarah, of how a foolish Pharaoh thinks to perpetuate his memory by building a mighty pyramidal structure of stone, which my friend terms a device planned by himself to divert the fancy of his ruler, and incidentally to astonish those European barbarians who may happen that way; and, among other matters, this Azza asks for my opinion concerning the outer surface of his pyramid; to which request for advice I remember that I replied, saying that the walls should be constructed so as to ascend in step-like angles. Ha, ha, ha!’ came from the spigot-hole a hollow, cracked attempt at derisive laughter–‘Ye say–ha, ha!–ye say this Pharaoh was of the _first_ dynasty!–ha, ha!–the first! Go hence, vain child.’

“‘But, sir,’ insisted Pym, after a pause, ‘have you provided for ventilating your–your small apartment?’

“‘In the floor beneath me is a knot-hole, which doth open to the outer air; and upon the opening is a flat stone, which, little by little, more or less, I remove and replace in accordance with certain laws, allowing just the proper amount of atmospheric air to enter from below. This oil maketh very little smoke, yet seest thou not some smoke emerge from the open faucet? Feel’st thou not with thine hand the heat escape? Again I say, go hence, vain youth.’

“Pym stood for a moment, meditating; and then something–perhaps something connected with the words several months before whispered into his ear by Masusaelili–impelled him to say:

“‘Good sir, we meant you no harm. Tell me, Allwise One, can you read the future?’

“Before a reply came, there was a pause so long that, says Peters, Pym was about to speak again. Then came the voice of this old man who had investigated and pondered for thousands of years that only inexhaustible study in the universe, the phenomenon of consciousness–the aged mystic no doubt being pleasantly warmed and mollified by the appellation ‘Allwise One.’

“‘None but God,’ said Masusaelili, ‘knows of a certainty the future. Truly wise men, and the lower animals, when they would penetrate the future, use not the crude instrument termed _reason_; but rather do they nestle close to the bosom of–what now call ye Him? Thine ancestors, the barbarians of Britannia, when I was with them, named Him God. Thus, and only thus, may the future become known to thee. Have faith, as the bird, the fish, the little ant, which, _feeling_ God, act, and are not disappointed. Think ye that the lowest of God’s creatures would not have heard His warning voice, or seen His beckoning arm, or felt His guiding hand when in the air lurked this present danger? Yet reason told not you! God shows to us the future, when we should know His edicts in advance, always–always, if only we will look and hearken. But this, good youth, God doth permit only to those who lean with full confidence upon Him, as do the lower animals. To the consciousness of man it is given, if but the right conditions be attained, truly to know what in the present happeneth anywhere in the universe. _Time_ is a barrier to the voluntary acquisition of knowledge, but _distance_ is not an impediment. My body is confined to this poor vase, but certainly not my mind–it roams in Europe, in Asia, or amid the stars–but wait a moment. Poor youth! The hand on the dial of thy destiny moves rapidly. Go! Go now, and go in haste; for one who loves thee, at this moment sorely needs thee. Farewell.’

“Pym scarcely heard the word ‘farewell;’ for he was crossing the threshold of the house as Masusaelili uttered it, and Peters was turning to follow. They ran as rapidly as the snow and the cutting wind would permit, and had covered the necessary three miles in about half an hour. The air was growing intensely cold. They met a party of three exiles, who were helping to scour the city for any food that might have been left in deserted homes. These men informed Pym that, in spite of the promptitude and haste of the rescue parties, more than a hundred persons had been frozen to death; and that frozen hands and feet by the thousand had been reported. The Hili-lites were so extremely susceptible to cold that, at a temperature of 20 deg. Fahrenheit, if they were not well protected by clothing, they soon became drowsy, then slept, and, if not found and resuscitated within a very short time, died. One case was reported in which a woman, only six hundred feet from one of the rescue stations, was frozen to death in somewhat less than an hour, though she must have been thoroughly chilled when last seen in an apparently natural condition. During the day a party of three exiles, whilst on one of their rounds, had visited the house of this poor woman, and had carried her three children to the nearest station; and the woman herself, who was at the time hurrying about the room gathering together a few articles, it was supposed had followed close behind them. In this way she was overlooked, until, in the somewhat crowded room to which the children were taken, the youngest child, a little girl of four years, broke into tears and began to cry out for her mother. Then two men hastened back, and found the woman unconscious and apparently dead. The usual methods of resuscitation were inaugurated, and long continued, but the woman could not be revived.

“Peters says that he has during his life-time seen a number of persons who were frozen, several of them fatally; of which a part were in the Eastern States, others in the far north; and that these Hili-lites froze to death very differently from those in the northern part of the north temperate zone. He mentions the case of a Canadian who was exposed to extreme cold during a whole night. When found, the poor fellow was not only unconscious, but apparently dead. The arms and legs were frozen through and through, and the entire body was rigid. He was resuscitated, but afterwards lost his hands and feet. In Hili-li persons lost their lives from exposure to cold whose bodies were very little–a few of them not at all–frozen. The explanation of this difference is to be found in the fact that an animal dies when bodily temperature in the interior of the body reaches a certain degree of reduction, which point of reduction in the Hili-lites is much less than in persons habituated to life in a colder climate. In persons accustomed to a climate as warm as that of Hili-li, the heat-producing functions are feeble, and the heat-expelling functions are very active; but this does not fully explain why, in Peters’ words, ‘the people there froze to death without freezing.’ Any person dying as a result of exposure to cold, dies long before any of the vital organs are frozen; and the Hili-lites no doubt ceased to live with a reduction of bodily temperature which would not have seriously inconvenienced a resident of Scotland or Canada. In the storm of which we speak, the people were nervously depressed as a result of fright. However, from all I can gather, the temperature was at times certainly as low as 40 deg. Fahrenheit below freezing, at which degree almost any thinly clad person might freeze to death.

“But the hour is late, and, though I had expected to close Peters’ story this evening, such a conclusion is, owing to my prolixity, scarcely practicable. If you still expect to start for home in three days, I shall certainly in one more evening complete the telling of Peters’ experiences in Hili-li. The day after tomorrow I shall be engaged during the entire evening, and if we delay our next meeting till the following evening–your last in Bellevue–it is possible that something may happen to prevent our meeting; so, if you are willing, my next and last visit to you here shall be tomorrow evening.”

I expressed my satisfaction with the arrangement, and he took his leave.

The following morning, I gave to Arthur, in my own way, an account of the storm in Hili-li, meanwhile leisurely dressing–a performance which, except under pressure, I have never in the morning been able unaided to accomplish in less than an hour. I had completed my toilet, but not my story, when in rushed Castleton.

After a little general conversation, I seemed naturally to return to the Peters story; and now, in a five-minute talk, I so closed it to the point reached by Bainbridge as to satisfy Arthur, and not weary the restless doctor. As I ended, Castleton said:

“I didn’t get in to see you yesterday. The last time I was in we were talking of names; and to tell you the truth, it was a matter of names that held me back yesterday at the very time I was going to come up. You see, I have an old friend here in town, —-; you’ve no doubt heard of him–ex-member of Congress, and as good as appointed Minister to Venezuela right now. A scholar of the deepest erudition; a speaker and writer of great force and nicety, and of exquisite literary taste. Yesterday we met, and during our talk he told me that his book, the result of many years of thought, was completed. Now, for my part, I never believed that a rose would smell as sweet as it does if we called it a turnip. If Poe had, instead of ‘Narrative of A. Gordon Pym,’ named his story, ‘Adventures of Dirk Peters, the Half-Breed,’ he would have sold twice as many books. My friend is about to publish his book. ‘Its name?’ I asked him. ‘There can be little choice of names for a translation of Montesquieu’s “Grandeur and Decadence of the Romans,” with notes by myself,’ he replied. ‘There can’t?’ said I; ‘well, my friend, let me tell you there can. Now compare this name: “Montesquieu’s Considerations on the Causes of the Grandeur and Decadence of the Romans, with illustrative notes,” etc., with a name like this: “The Roman Aristocrats Ripped, Rooted, and Routed”; or, “How the Roman Plutocrats were Peppered and Pounded.” Heavens and Earth! what do the masses know about decadence? Why not name his book (and so I said to him), “How the Rich Romans Rotted”? Half the people would think from such a title that the Romans were enemies of the United States, and that Montesquieu and my friend were after them hot and fast; and then the story would go out that the French were helping us again. “General Montesquieu” would be heard on all sides, associated with endless repetitions of Lafayette memories. Lord, Lord! I sometimes think a man is better under-educated than over-educated.”

Then after a pause he continued:

“Pretty good, that talk of Masusaelili’s through the faucet–pretty good, pretty good! But, pshaw! for me there’s nothing new on earth. Why, sir, I’ve always drawn my best philosophy out of a spigot-hole. The very sight of a spigot inspires me, and drives away my troubles. But, man alive! We must keep this thing secret. The fellow with an exhaustless stock of _elixir vitae_ isn’t half worked out in fiction yet–and besides, how can a person reread his ‘Wandering Jew,’ and his ‘Last Days of Pompeii,’ and his ‘Zanoni,’ with such an outlandish picture as a mystic under a lamp-warmed vase in mind? Why didn’t Bainbridge take a not unusual historical license, and say that the aged philosopher was found warming himself before a crystal vase filled with magically glowing rubies?”

After we had laughed a little over this, he said:

“And I suppose Bainbridge tried–in fact I know by what you say that he did try–to air his knowledge on the subject of animal heat? No doubt talked for half an hour about the effects of cold on the animal economy? Oh, he’s a rapid man! You heard, sir, how idiotically he talked that day, just before I cured old man Peters? If Bainbridge had had his way, Peters’ story would have been a short one. I suppose his remedy for a frozen Hili-lite would be to send him to the North Pole! Now, sir, I instantly grasped the whole idea of the necessary effect of that cold wave on those Hili-lites, for I now have data in abundance for reading those people through and through. In a word, sir–and observe my sententious brevity–their thermogenistic organization being adynamic, and their thermolysic functions being over-active owing to their thermic environment, and the thermotaxic balance being habitually anomalous, the emergency was not successfully encountered; and this was more particularly the case because the nerve-centres of vital resistance to sudden and extreme thermal abstraction were atrophied.”

This was the last remark, except a few words of farewell at the time of my departure for home, that I ever heard from Doctor Castleton. It was his habit, as he was about to leave the presence of an auditor or interlocutor, to fire off, so to speak, a set speech, or a piece of surprising information, and then hastily to retreat–a habit displaying considerable sagacity, and one engendered by street-corner discussion, in which a return fire–or perhaps a troublesome question–was often to be avoided if a dramatic climax was not to be sacrificed. On this occasion, as the last words left his lips he vanished through the doorway, and we were alone.

“Well,” said Arthur, “am I allowed to speak?”

“You are,” I replied.

“Then tell me,” said he, “what it was he said? Why doesn’t he, some day when he has time, dictate a dictionary? And isn’t there any way to stop such talk by law? That man gets worse instead of better. He forgets everything except words. Says he, the other day, ‘Well, Arthur, my boy, when are you coming in to pay your doctor bill?’ Now mind, I paid him a’ready, and just think of my teeth! But I told him, nice and easy, how I paid him the two dollars. Then I told him about my teeth rattlin’ whenever I go down the stairs, and asked him what to do for them. He just laughed and gave me a half-dollar, and said, ‘Bone-set tea, my boy–drink bone-set tea, and plenty of it;’ and so I do.”


“Pym left the exiles,” said Bainbridge, on the following evening, as, in accordance with his engagement, he continued the story of the great storm in Hili-li; “and hastened on toward his home. Arrived there, he went directly to the cellar, where he found the three large lamps alight, brilliantly illuminating and comfortably warming the apartment; but Lilama was missing, though he found there one of her maids. This girl told Pym that Lilama had, some four hours earlier, taken with her her maid Ixza, and hastened from the house. Questioned closely, she said that after Pym had gone, Lilama suddenly bethought her of a former servant, an old nurse, who for some years past had lived quite alone, and that Lilama had decided to have the poor old woman found, and cared for. It seems that when the young wife was herself in safety and had the mental leisure to think of others, the thought of her poor old servant and friend in danger grew more and more unbearable. She had waited almost an hour for Pym to return, and then, taking Ixza with her, had gone forth; but where the old nurse resided, only Lilama and Ixza knew. The maid knew only that Lilama had left the cellar with the intention of assisting, in some manner, the nurse of her babyhood.

“In ten minutes Pym and Peters, going in different directions, had aroused many of the exiles, who hastened in all directions, to search thoroughly the poorer quarters of the city, and to inquire of everyone whom they might encounter concerning the residence of the old nurse. The exiles had already visited, or sent others to visit, about every house in the city; but in a few instances–particularly where but one person lived in a house–the occupant had been advised, and had consented, to come to a central station and there remain till the storm abated or passed; and then, for some purpose delaying, had been overcome by the cold, and, as the system of search included only one visit to each house, had been left to die–the fact transpiring through an accidental second visit, or when the city was later scoured in search of food that might have been overlooked.

“An hour later, one of many messengers who were searching for Pym met him, and told him that Lilama was found. He hastened to the house in which they had found her–a small frame structure, the residence of her former nurse.

“At the entrance of this house stood Peters, waiting for his young friend; and as Pym felt the hand of the old sailor, put forth to stop him in his breathless haste, and as he looked into the hard, rugged face of his old friend, he knew that he must nerve himself for a shock. Alas! His surmise was only too correct. They entered the main room of the house together, Peters in the rear. Drawing aside from the entrance to the room a portiere–Peters had already visited the room–Pym passed in, Peters remaining on the outer side of the curtained doorway, that he might prevent others from following, or even from viewing the young friend who was now to receive one of the keenest stabs with which Destiny ever pierces the human heart.

“For a moment Pym would wholly have mistaken the scene before him, had Peters not said a word of warning as the portiere fell behind his young friend.

“On the lounge which stood against the farther wall as he entered, lay an elderly woman, apparently asleep; and covering her were the outer wraps–scanty, indeed, for such a day–of Lilama. On the left, as Pym swept at a glance the apartment, he saw the maid Ixza, reclining in a large chair; she, also, to all appearances, was asleep. Then he saw his wife. She crouched on the floor at the foot of the lounge, only her wealth of light golden hair at first visible. Stepping to her side, Pym saw her, as many times in the ducal gardens he had seen her drop to the ground in her girlish fashion, to rest. Her arms were intertwined upon the foot of the lounge, her head resting upon them; and there the tired, childlike young wife had gone to sleep–forever.

“How beautiful she was in death! The gentle hand that had never touched the person of another but in helpfulness–how fair, how pallid; the fond sweet eyes that knew no glance but that of love and kindness–they were almost hidden by the drooping lids; the tenderest, loveliest face the sunlight ever kissed, smiled upward at him as he gazed–his heart felt colder than was this dear form he dropped beside and clasped. But the lips–the ripe red lips–the rapturous, maidenly lips, the first touch of which had raised him forever from the coarse earth–the arch lips that had bewitched him with their own seductive smile, and could not shape themselves to harsher act than pouting–a fleeting pout, that captivated ere it vanished–he could not look at them in death–he could not.

“Sweet child of a weird land and a strange people! She was one of those whose spotless souls need not the purifying fire of a long earthly life. For Pym, now and later, the sorrow and the yearning void; for her, only an earlier advancement.

“Pym’s mind was shocked; but behind the shock he felt the awful anguish of such a separation. Was this the end? Could it be the end? For him, truly that day his last hope for this life died. But hereafter? Surely this was not to be the end of all! A few more years of grovelling on the clay bosom of the cold, selfish earth, and then–only oblivion? No, no: he would not, he could not believe it.

“As Pym stood there, where many, many other men have stood, and millions yet will stand, did his soul rise into the heavenly atmosphere, or did it question God’s decrees and sink to rise no more? This I cannot answer.

“After such a loss, oh, the weary weight of unutterable woe; the awful sense that hope is dead, whilst the mourner can only stand with streaming eyes and bleeding heart, forever chained to the ghastly corpse of every dear ambition, of every joy, and all that our universe of feeling builds on hope. But we should learn from such a loss a lesson, for the lesson if learned insures our own advancement: such losses are but the purposes of God unfolding for those we love and for ourselves an eternity of blissful harmony.”

Thus Doctor Bainbridge closed; and, though his words were of death, and the thoughts which he expressed were as old as the human race, I was much affected by them. Young as was the speaker, his utterances conveyed to me the impression that he himself had in some way learned the lesson of which he spoke. For several moments we sat in silence; and then, though I knew that he would have a few more words to say, I thought it an appropriate time to thank him for his long, painstaking elaboration of the old sailor’s disclosures, which, as I knew partly from my own personal knowledge, had been gained only by untiring perseverance and inexhaustible patience. I thanked him, and complimented him as I thought he deserved; and he was pleased, I plainly saw, with the few words of commendation which he knew came from my heart.

We sat, smoking our cigars and chatting on various topics, until it was almost the hour at which he usually said to me goodnight. Then he returned to the Peters’ story, saying:

“It only remains for me properly to dispose of Pym and Peters. Peters knows no more–in fact, not as much–of Pym after he returned home, as do we. Poe, we know, in the note to his ‘Narrative,’ alludes to ‘the late sudden and distressing death of Mr. Pym.’ This is all we know, and even this fact, when I told it to Peters, was new to him; for Pym and Peters parted in the month of February, 1830, at the City of Montevideo, Uruguay; Peters, with an old sailor chum, whom he happened to meet in South America, shipping to Australia; and Pym, a few days later, starting for the United States.

“It had no doubt been the policy of the Hili-lites to prevent all strangers from returning to the outer world; but this policy was, it seems, not a firmly founded one, and many circumstances arose to modify and finally even to reverse it. They looked upon Pym almost as one of themselves. When he left them, it was with the intention of returning; and they exacted of him a promise to hide, even from Peters, the longitudes traversed during the entire journey from Hili-li until they should touch the land of some civilized people, or meet with a ship; to which promise Pym rigidly adhered. And though they were in other ways very kind to him, they would not allow him to take away a single grain of gold, of which nuggets were as plentiful in the fissures of the Olympian ranges as are pebbles in the beds of mountain streams; nor would they allow him to retain, of the many precious stones in his possession, even the ruby which Lilama had given him; and no amount of argument or pleading could move them to a different decision. The Hili-lites were anxious to get rid of Peters, which had much to do with their willingness to ‘speed the parting guest.’ It seems that Pym for months after the death of Lilama was in an extremely morbid state of mind. He spent most of his time with Masusaelili, who allowed him to see Lilama’s apparition or wraith many times. The aged mystic explained to Pym the scientific _modus operandi_ of the production, so that he was in no way deceived into thinking that he met Lilama in person; but we may presume that, as it is to each of us some gratification to look at a painting or a photograph of a departed friend, it must have been a still greater pleasure for Pym thus to have reproduced for him the living, moving form and features of his lost darling–reproduced or simulated in such a manner that he might see her, and touch her, and hear her voice–even though he was told that the image was only a likeness. During Pym’s abstraction, Peters was left almost entirely to himself; and his worst qualities, long inactive (partly because there had not been opportunity for their display, and partly because of Pym’s influence), now came prominently to the surface. He associated with the wildest characters on the neighboring islands, making them even wilder and more ungovernable than before his arrival. Finally, with revenge for an excuse, but in reality from sheer restlessness, he began to organize a raid on the outlying barbarians, more particularly, he still avers, because he wished ‘to get even with old Too-wit’ and his barbarian followers for having murdered his companions, as described in Pym’s diary. This the Hili-lites thought was going too far; and as it was now October, the Council of State decided to allow Pym to depart for home, taking Peters with him.

“One bright December morning these two toys of fortune said good-by to their kind hosts, and started on their long and perilous journey. A strong and handsome though small sail-boat had been provided for them. A number of Hili-lite youths–among them some of the former exiles–were to accompany them past the great antarctic continent; and for this piloting party a larger boat had been built. After many days, the continent was passed; and Pym and Peters, alone, began their wearisome voyage across the great Antarctic Ocean. Fortunately, in January they encountered a large schooner, which six weeks later, in February, landed them at Montevideo. Peters says that Montevideo was at that time–1830–little more than a walled fortress. This scarcely harmonizes with the fact that it was then, as now, the capital of Uruguay; but Peters appears to know what he is talking about. As I have said, at this place Pym and Peters parted, never to meet again. The younger man started for his home, and found an early grave; the older man sought new adventures, and he, at the age of eighty, still lives to tell of their adventures had in a country strange beyond man’s credulity to believe.”

These were the last words spoken by Doctor Bainbridge on the subject of Peters’ adventures. Two days later I said farewell to my American