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  • 1903
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treacherous rock crumbled beneath his impact, and I saw his staggering form turning backward. Another instant and his descending body was below me, plunging to the floor of the abyss. I turned, and then, my son, I felt the marvel of the mind’s creative power over matter. I wished myself at the bottom of the quarry where Chapman had fallen, and although the movement of the translation down the pathway seemed apparent, yet I was scarcely parted from him an instant before I was standing and leaning over him in a group of astonished workmen, at the very spot where he lay. He was conscious, but gravely injured. I knelt beside him, and as I raised his head upon my knee, he looked up, and his lips moved; at first he was inarticulate, but soon his words became audible and intelligent.

“‘Dodd,’ he said, ‘this ends me for Mars. Take the papers to the Council at Scandor. They are in the cabin in my desk. They are sealed. I know there is a celestial runaway that is going to strike this planet. I overheard that much at the Patenta. And its direct path, the point of impingement, will be at Scandor. The fires ascending from Scandor are signals that they, too, have divined the disaster. I think so at least! Hurry on! You may see the strangest phenomenon eyes have ever seen. But, Dodd, enough of that. I am turned down for this world. I was not in agreement, as the philosophers call it, and the true mental Martian immunity from accident was not in me. I am injured mortally.’

“He groaned and tried to rise, but his crushed body was incapable. The Superintendent, Alca, had hurried to the spot where the crowding men stood around us ejaculating their amazement. Alca tore open the garment about Chapman, and placing his forehead on the body, poured out as it were, the full tide of his mental sympathy and power.

“I could see the struggle between the mortality of Chapman, born of doubt, and his unfittedness and apathy, and the spiritual power of the brave Superintendent. The flame of life in Chapman would be stimulated or excited, and then flicker and die down. These alterations lasted but a short time. Soon Chapman passed into stupor, and then death supervened, and the strange and seldom known circumstance of death among the supernaturals in Mars was realized.

“Alca kept the body of Chapman, which would be sent back to the City of Light, and cremated in the Temple of Glorification–which I have not seen. He intended to accompany it. He sent me on to Scandor. I had now learned enough of the Martian language to speak, imperfectly. That mental facility, which is the amazing and most wonderful thing in Mars, was perhaps more slowly roused in me. But daily I became known, and more alert and inflamed with thought and the eager intuition of the Martians.

“We started from the great Quarry of Sinsi, and I was alone with the Martians on the porcelain boat, now made by this tragic fate the ambassador from the City of Light to the Council in Scandor.

“The sterile, sinister and yet marvellous region of lava beds, dikes and conic craters suddenly was passed, and the canal moved into the huge forest lands of the Ribi wood.

“This is a beautiful land. Mountain ranges rising from four to six thousand feet cross it, holding broad valleys and plains, or elevated plateaus between them; lakes and rivers pass through it, and villages and towns with a mixed population of the supernaturals and the prehistorics are frequent. The canals cross the great region in many directions. The trunk line I followed was carried up and down by systems of locks of astounding magnitude and perfection. Great lakes were made convenient feeders, and rivers were also tapped to keep the water levels constant in the canals. The weather was that of a semi-tropical paradise, and the late flowers of the Ribi filled the air with fragrance.

“Quickly we approached Scandor. It was a clear, calm day when we emerged from the Ribi country, and the pilot pointed out to me the distant hills, almost purple in a twilight haze, which encircled the Valley of the City of Scandor. The country we had entered was a fertile farm country, where great plantations of the Rint, and vineyards of the Oma grapes were established, and where great flocks of the Imilta dove, almost the only meat eaten by the Martians, are raised. The enormous flocks of this snow-white bird were strangely beautiful. They made clouds in the air, and their purring notes when they settled in white blankets over the fields, were heard pulsating over long distances.

“Finally we came to the last tier of locks at the summit of which my curiosity was to be satisfied by a view of the great City of Scandor, the City of Glass.

“It was night when our china boat floated upon the waters of the last lock that completed the ascent, and immediately below the observatory Station or Settlement of Scandor. I was standing on the deck of the boat, watching impatiently the slowly rising tide upon which we were borne upward. I could at first see as we ascended the towers of the observatory station. Above me, looking at us with interest, on the walls of the lock, was a company of Martians. The night was cloudy, and the lights of the hastening satellites were but intermittently evident. Gradually my head passed upward beyond the obstructing interference of wall and gate and fence, and the glorious and unimaginable splendor of the City of Scandor, like some monstrous continental opal, lay before me in the immediate valley.

“The glistening panes of water below me marked the places of the descending line of locks. Around me were the buildings of the Scandor Observatory, and to the right and left swept the forested slopes of a circular range which, as I later saw, ranged about in one amphitheatrical circuit the, great vale of Scandor. But only an instant’s glance could be spared for this detail. The divine City glowing below me seemed to magnetize attention, and control, through its wonderfulness each wavering attitude of interest. My son, the eye of man never beheld so astonishing a picture. Imagine a city reaching twenty miles in all directions built of glass variously designed, interrupted by tall towers, pyramids, minarets, steeples, light, fantastic and beautiful structures, all aflame, or rather softly radiating a variously colored glory of light.

“Imagine this great area of building, penetrated by broad avenues, radiating like the spokes of a wheel from a center where rose upward to the sky a colossal amphitheatre. Imagine these roads, delineated to the eye by tall chimneys or tubes of glass through which played an electric current, converting each one into a lambent pillar. Imagine between these paths of greenish opalescence the squares of buildings of domed, arched and castellated roofs, pierced and starred, and spread in lines and patterns of white electric lamps. The noble proportions of the larger buildings, the graceful outlines of turreted or campanulate erections, and the smaller houses were all defined. I could see canals or rivers of water winding through the City spanned by arches of flame, and even the symmetrical disposition of the dark-leaved trees was visible.

“But the night was still further turned to day, for above the City, high in the velvet black empyrean were suspended thousands of glass balloons, each emitting the Geissler-like illumination that marked the lines of streets. So full and opulent was the flood of light, that the summit I had reached, the encircling hills, and the farther side of the saucer-shaped valley where Scandor lay, were bathed in an equally diffused radiation.

“But, as if the heavenly marvel might still further startle and amaze and charm me, from the City rose the swelling chords of choruses; billows of sound, softened by distance, beat in melodious surges on the high encompassing lands.

“I stood mute and transfixed. It seemed a beatific vision. If the very air had been filled with ascending choruses of angels, if the dark zenith had opened and revealed the throne of the Almighty, it would have seemed but a congruous and expected climax.

“Long I gazed, and slowly, very slowly became conscious of the great numbers of people about me, and that they were being augmented by new arrivals. The porcelain barge I had come in from the City of Light, was moored now to the side of the lock. I had disembarked, carrying almost mechanically in my hand, the chest in which the communications from the Patenta to the Council were locked.

“It was perhaps only a short interval before the pilot woke me from my trance, saying in Martian: ‘This is the Observation Hill of Scandor. These are Scandor’s Observatories. I hear there is seen by the observers some approaching danger in the heavens. These citizens of Scandor are crowding from the City to hear the latest reports. There is a messenger from the Council here waiting on the observers. I will bring him to you, and you and the messenger can at once be conveyed to the Council.’

“I looked at him speechless, yet unable to again realize I lived and breathed in another world. It seemed as if a sudden motion, a cry, a whisper even, would break the chrysalis of sleep about me, and plunge me into void and nothingness.

“The pilot left me, and I saw him thread his way amongst the lines of people, moving toward the dark walls of the observatory that covered the hill. At long intervals rockets rose from the opposite rim of the great circular ridge around the City, scarring the deep, inky vault about us with lines of fire. They ascended to an enormous distance. Almost instantly these were apparently answered by similar rockets in other colors from the hill I stood on.

“There was a sudden movement about me. The pilot had returned. With him came the messenger. I flung my absorption from me. I was a Martian. The light of recognition came back again to my eyes–my tongue was loosened, my senses accommodated themselves to the stupendous circumstances about me. I spoke first.

“‘Mindo,’ (the name of the pilot), ‘I am ready to accompany my guide to the City. Will you go with us?’

“‘No! Heboribimo,’ (your excellency), ‘I must stay at the locks. I shall descend to the City in the boat to-morrow. This man will bring you to the canal. I advise haste. There is great excitement and dread in Scandor. Mars is in the path of a comet.’

“I turned to my guide, a beautiful youth, not dressed as the citizens of the City of Light, but clothed in a tight fitting doublet of a creamy blue, with short trunks of yellow, and on his feet were sandals. He saluted me, and together we descended the broad boulevard between the widely separated lustres that became more crowded as they massed like a progressive deepening of color into the eddying splendors of the City itself.

“Again I realized how swift is motion in Mars. We wished to reach the City, and we glided to it by the rapid propulsion of desire. The broad way was filled with lines and groups of peoples clustering to the hilltop–and over the far-reaching slopes I could see the awaiting throngs. My guide pointed to the constellation of Perseus, and I could discern a nebulous mass of considerable diameter from which proceeded a wisp-like exhalation, just a phantasmal fan of phosphorescence, behind it.

“The glory of the City fell around us now; we were in its broad streets beneath the towering pillars of light that framed them in a fence of splendor. On we pressed, but I glanced from side to side, noting the great glass houses and buildings, here colonnades of translucent opalescent beauty, made up of hollow tubes of glass holding an interior illumination, and clambered over by vines whose expanding leaves formed a tracery of silhouettes upon their sides.

“Still on, past porticos and under arches, through open forum-like squares, from which were elevated the great glass globes I have described, which hung lamp-like in the sky,–past palaces and arcades, blocks of low stores in iridescent tints, and long, straight fronts of white opaque buildings, through occasional tunnels into which we plunged as into a sea of radiance, and on, out, past a few squares of black umbrageous trees that seemed like dead coals laid on the heat quivering hearth of a furnace, past minarets of curling, entwined filagrees of glass threads, past dull or darker areas where the huge glass factories were built, their forges glowing like Cyclops’ eyes in the night, and from which was produced the colossal sum of manufacture, which this great City embodied.

“It was a strange bewilderment of marvels, and from it all, as if it were its interior motive and cause, sprang light. It was electric in origin, conveyed in some peculiar manner from a great source of power, in the high falls of Zenapa, near the City. But this I learned later.

“I divined that we were approaching the center of the city. Soon, indeed, I saw before me the sparkling walls of the amphitheatre I had descried from the hill of Observation at the locks. Here it is, that the great plays, the gigantic concerts, the operas, and services of the Pan-Tan are held. It was a seraphic, astounding picture. It rose in the midst of a great square of many acres in extent, where the light, purposely subdued, allowed its dazzling beauty subdued isolation. How wonderful! I stopped. For one instant, before hurrying on, I gazed upon a miracle of constructive and decorative art. One hundred columns of red glass rose upward, and between them was a wall, in tiers of green glass arches, and on the keystone of each a pink globe of fire. From the pillars sprang, in an inverted terrace formation, metallic brackets, carrying gorgeous chandeliers of a red bronze; the largest chandeliers were at the very upper edge of the building, and the cascade of light thus shed upon the splendid fabric was indescribably magnificent.

“But there was small time for wonder or examination. We swept on through the shadowy gardens about it, and my guide quickly brought me to the Hall of the Council, a low, inconspicuous building of yellow brick, one of the few discordant architectural notes in the whole city.

“The doors of the single chamber, which embraced all the interior space, swung open, and I stood on the threshold of a shallow, rectangular depression, surrounded on all sides with benches, and holding in its central area a long table, at which, beneath tall lamps, sat, perhaps, a dozen men and one woman. Opposite to my point of view, in a niche upon the further wall, was the colossal figure of the Deity I had seen in the Patenta at the City of Light.

“The faces of the twelve men turned to us as we entered. The herald announced my errand with the customary salutation of ‘Hebori bimo.’ I was invited to descend to the central table. I advanced, and laying Chapman’s chest, with its sealed communications upon the table, spoke:

“‘I am a stranger. I have come to your world from the Earth. I bring news, celestial news, from the astronomers of the City of Light. I had a companion to whom all this was entrusted.’ He was killed in the quarries of Tiniti. I came on, bidden so to do by Alca, the Superintendent. The papers of the Wise Men of the Patenta are here.’

“I laid the chest upon the table. My speech was yet unformed, and perhaps upon the delicate and intellectual faces before me, there dwelt, with the transient influence of a passing thought, a smile of sympathy or amusement. Then a young being at the head of the table exclaimed in Martian:

“‘Welcome, stranger. All who come to us are soon made one with ourselves. The Martian spirit is that of salutation and friendship. We have heard of the discoveries in the new commotions in planetary space. Our own astronomers have announced them. This great City of Scandor, the product of many centuries’ toil and invention, is apparently doomed. It lies in the path, certainly defined and determined by observers, of a small cometary mass, which will plunge upon it a rain of rock and iron. Even now this approaching body grows more and more visible in the sky. The astronomers are working at the problem, hoping some deflection, some interpositional mercy will carry off this disturbing incidence. But if we are to be destroyed, if there is no escape from the singular fortune of annihilation by an inrushing stream of meteoric bodies, then warning, through proclamation, shall be made, and our citizens will move out of the city to Asco, and the islands of Pinit.’

“He ceased; upon him the expectant faces of the others, assembled about the table, were fixed, and a visible tremor of dismay and grief seemed to convulse them. A few covered their faces with their hands, others stood up and gazed at the benignant colossus in bronze at the end of the room, while others, motionless, still maintained their attitude of attention.

“The presiding officer, with a slight inclination of the body, raised his hand, and addressing me, said: ‘You shall be the guest of our City, and if it must be that this great capital of Mars must succumb to this mysterious invasion, if this place, so long a marvel of beauty, shall be succeeded by a heap of burning stones, then you shall be our companion in pilgrimage. Remain with us until the end of this strange circumstance is known.’

“As he finished, a noise of indescribable lamentation from a multitude of voices broke upon our ears–the sound of running feet and sharp cries of amazement, crashed in upon the half ominous silence about us.

“I turned instinctively to my guide. He stood statue-like beside me, with a stealing pallor crossing his face, and then, the doors of the apartment swung open, and loud voices were heard crying, ‘The Peril comes. Stand forward. To the Hills!’

“Panic, that nameless associated mental terror of the unknown and the impending, which on Earth spreads fever-like through multitudes, had arisen amongst the Martians, and hurrying crowds were hastening in a wild retreat from the City to the hills.

“All thought of the Council, of my errand, or of the new relation I had been graciously accorded, disappeared from my mind. Frightened by the sudden premonition of destruction, bewildered by the torrent of new sensations, and even yet only half confident that my existence in the new world was altogether real, I was impelled to spring forward. Reaching the doors, hands shot out around me, and I was swept in the tide of running forms.

“It was a living stream of manifold complexity. Only for one moment did I lose consciousness. The next I was struggling to escape from the spreading tentacles of this involved current. I leaped to the projection of a low pedestal, upon which an unfinished construction or group of statues was in progress. Holding my exposed position for an instant, I wrenched myself clear of the pulsating throngs, and succeeded in gaining the low summit above me. Here I was free to look around me. My guide was gone, the Council House was lost to view; I was alone. Below passed the surging crowd, made up of youths and girls, with few older men or women, many beautiful, all expressing the Martian distinction, but now strangely bewildered and uncontrolled. It was a reversed emotional picture from that buoyant, frenzied throng that a few weeks ago carried me into the Hall of the Patenta.

“Faces were turned toward the sky, and hands, as if in ejaculation, were waved up and down, or thrust in significant indices toward that fatal blurred blot of splendor in the heavens. I followed their direction. The approaching nebula had grown sensibly since an hour ago. It glittered, the size of a shield, and a light coruscation seemed emanating from its edges. The faces of the multitude were justified. The mass above us was a train of celestial missiles, hurling toward Mars. Its contact seemed more and more imminent. I felt a nameless terror. The thought of isolation in this new world, the unknown awfulness of this planetary disturbance, the sudden extinction of the hopes that were feeding my heart with a new life, and the forecasting of the impossible agonies of universal death in this great, strange place I had so wonderfully entered, overcame me. I fell sobbing to the glassy floor on which I was standing. It was again a new proof of my assumption of the ecstatic nature of these children of light and music, impulse and inspiration.

“The convulsion passed. I felt stronger, and was quickened with a keenly prudent determination to escape from the city, find my way back to the Hill of Observation, and if possible, send you, my son, my last experience before all had become silence.

“I could see the regular ascent of the rockets from the distant hill. I found the streets about me almost emptied, the white, lustrous river of life had passed. I descended to the pavement. The way past the splendid Amphitheatre was easily found, and then I hastened, guided by a dumb instinct of direction, toward the still ascending rockets. I came to the broad Boulevard which led to the Hill of Observation, and went on, now plainly controlled by the sweeping avenue of lamps about, and in front of me.

“I shall not pause to recount the success of my application to the astronomers to use the transmitters of the wireless telegraphy, which are as fully perfected here as at the City of Scandor.

“As my message ends, the dawn ascends from the wide margins of the Ribi country. I am stunned with drowsiness. The Sun’s rays have extinguished the scintillant peril in the skies. But the order has gone forth to leave the City, to camp upon the hills, the City of Scandor is doomed, and the area of destruction it embraces is the diametral measure of the—-“

I heard no more. Overcome with fatigue, exposure and increasing pulmonary weakness, of which I had had painful premonitions, I fainted at the table, and fell to the floor of the damp and inclement room.

My assistants aver that the transmission ceased almost the next moment upon my collapse, and the unfinished sentence of my father’s message can be readily understood as implying that the foreign body, or Swarm, which was destined to strike Mars, had been determined as having about the amplitude of the City of Scandor.

Days lengthened into weeks, weeks to months, but though unflinchingly watched by night and day, no further message was received. I had become weaker, pale and lifeless. The terrible malady made its inroads upon a frame unable to meet its savage or insidious attacks. This weakness was aggravated by the excitement produced by the singular experience I had passed through. My nerves had undergone a strain quite unusual, and the interior sense of elation, reacting its fits of extreme mental despondency dislocated my system, and accelerated the gliding virus of disease inundating the capillaries of circulation and breaking down the tissues with fever and consumption.


Miss Dodan came more and more frequently to see me. The thought of my physical depression, the revulsion of hopelessness over my changing lineaments made the love I bore her more painful and enervating. I tried hard to conceal my fears over my condition. But Miss Dodan had been observant. Her developing affections became daily more tender and delicate, and her solicitude evinced itself in many charming, thoughtful ways that added only a more poignant sadness to my sufferings.

I was, indeed, tortured by the conflicting aims life seemed to furnish me. On the one hand was the necessity of continuing, if I could, my communications with my father; on the other, the duty I owed myself to abandon all for the woman I truly loved, and to renovate and establish my health so that I might woo and win, and marry her.

It was, in a sense, an ethical question, but it was quite as hard to determine by ordinary arguments whether I could have any permission to violate my promise to my father, as it was to estimate the exact measure of my obligations to myself and Miss Dodan. An incident occurred that dissipated this dilemma, sent Miss Dodan to England, and left me at Christ Church to receive the last message from my father before the sickness had fully developed that now has laid its searching and remorseless veto upon any further life or happiness for me in this world.

Miss Dodan and myself were seated together upon a bench drawn up in the sunshine at the foot of the Observatory, watching with delight the distinct changing sea, the plumes of smoke from diminished steamers, and the white glory of full-rigged ships. It was the autumn of the southern country, and the dreamy spell of the declining days fell softly upon the material tissues of nature, as well as on the acquiescent spirit of man.

“Father,” said Miss Dodan, uncertainly, while she formed her hand into an improvised tube, and looked through it on the peaceful scene at our feet, “has been telling me of my birthplace in Devonshire. It must be very beautiful, more beautiful than it is here. But there is no sea, and it seems to me now that I should die without it; it is the very soul and voice, too, of all this picture!” She spread out her arms, and half willfully threw back the one nearest me, until it swept over my head, and I caught and kissed the opened palm.

“Yes,” I replied, “the sea relieves everything about or near it, from the humiliation of commonness. The stamp of distinction rests on its printless waves. It was the first surface of the earth, and its primal regency has never been lost or forfeited;” a suspicion crossed my mind: “How was it your father spoke of Devonshire. I never knew before that you came from that pearl of the countries of England. Would you like to see it?”

My voice half sank, and the hitherto unsuspected fact that Mr. Dodan had observed my physical danger, and now was planning to interrupt his daughter’s intimacy and hallucination for a poor, failing man, struggling with an impossible problem, and a mortal malady, seemed suddenly understood by me. I turned to her a face of questioning concern. Her eyes were still fixed upon the distant, pulsating sea. “No,” she answered, half nonchalantly. “I suppose not, and yet–why not! I have only known this country; to cross the great ocean, to see the capital of the world, to learn the great wonders of its palaces and temples, to see its multitudes, to see the Queen. Ah! to see the Queen!”

Her hands folded tightly together across her brow, she looked the very embodiment of reverent expectation, and the blushing roses on her cheeks, the lovelight in her eyes seemed to deepen for an instant, and then pale slightly, as she turned to me only to see me bury my head in my hands, holding back the cry of stifled hope that often before had leaped to my lips, but never had before so nearly passed them.

“Oh, Bradford,” she cried, “would you mind so much! I would soon be back again. And then, you know, this awful telegraphic work would be over, and we could be happy together without a thought of that cold, far-away Mars!”

We talked on together till the dusky night had begun to gather its shadows about us, and Mars, that marvellous spot of light from whose untouched continents the waves of magnetic oscillation might even then be starting on their pathless transit across the abyss of space, destined for my ear, began to shine above us.

It was clear to me now that Mr. Dodan had been carefully nursing in his daughter a desire to see England and the Queen, and her own little birthplace, and that he had formed a resolution to separate us, for his daughter’s best interests, as he thought.

I suffered from a very proud, sensitive nature, perhaps unwholesomely intensified by the lonely life I had led, and a peculiar sense of my difference from other people.

This revelation, so unwelcome, so fraught with painful anticipations, roused my pride to a sharp climax of revolt, disdain and defiance. Miss Dodan should go,–I should urge it. I would applaud and hasten it, there would be no weakness, no supplication, no obstacles on my part. Let death write his inerrant claim to me, let it be recognized; Mr. Dodan need not be disturbed as to my absolute self-control.

The very acerbity of my coming misery, through Miss Dodan’s absence, fully realized by me, seemed now only to add a desperation of assumed indifference and gayety to all my actions. I argued against delay, and dwelt with excellent effect upon the charms of the visit. I assumed that Miss Dodan needed the change, that the educational value of such an experience would be incalculable.

Mr. Dodan was frankly surprised and pleased. This unexpected support and enthusiastic commendation of his plan was something he gratefully accepted, and he assumed a new manner toward me. He ascribed to me a power of self-renunciation which won his ardent approval and admiration.

The day was at last fixed. Miss Dodan, young, appreciative, and curious, was elated at the prospect of the voyage, and, momentarily, at least, forgot her first reluctance to desert me. The preparations were all completed. I need not dwell upon all the detail of that last week. It was a cruel ordeal for me, but no one would have suspected my real anguish. I seemed the most thoughtful of all, the most naturally buoyant and hopeful for the success of the trip. I forgot nothing. The telegraph station was not, however, neglected. I watched at night, and during the hours of my absence my assistant was persistently present in the tower.

At last the steamer sailed away from the wharf at Port Littelton. The last moments I passed alone with Miss Dodan were sacred, sweet memories; all that I have now.

Mr. and Mrs. Dodan and Miss Dodan were waving their handkerchiefs from the deck as I turned sorrowfully back to Christ Church. I realized that I had seen Miss Dodan for the last time, and that when she returned to New Zealand, she would only find me gone. There was but one duty now. To resume, if possible, the communications with my father, and prepare the story of my experience and discoveries, and leave it to the world.

I went back to the Observatory. I was again alone. A reaction of despondency overwhelmed me, and it was coincident with a hemorrhage, which left me weak and nervous. I resumed my watching at the station. I seemed to anticipate a new message. I endured peculiar and excruciating excitement, a tense suspense of desire and prevision that deprived me of appetite and sleep, and accelerated the ravages of the disease, that now, victorious over my weakened, nervous force, began the last stages of its devastating advance.

It was a clear, cold night of exquisite severity and beauty–May 20, 1894, that the third message came from my father. It was announced, as had been all the others, by the sudden response of the Morse receiver. A few nights before, grasping at a vague hope that I might again reach him with the magnetic waves at my command, I had launched into space the single sentence: “Await me! Death is very near.” The message that now startled my ears began with an exact answer to that trans-abysmal despatch:

“My son, the thought of your death fills me with happiness. Surely you will come to this wonderful and unspeakable world, you will see me again, and I you, but under such new circumstances! My heart yearns for you immeasurably. Come! Come quickly! To press you to my heart, to speak with you, to teach you the new things, and Oh! more than all, to bring you to your mother. For, Tony, she is found; my search is ended. I have discovered her whom the cruel mystery of Death on earth so sharply removed from us, in youth and radiance. I have not yet revealed myself. The joy of anticipation surpasses thought or words. I have hastened back from seeing her, whom to leave in this paradise imparts the one pang I have known in this new life, hastened again to the Hill of Observation that now looks on the cruel ruin, the emptiness of desolation, where once was the City of Scandor. Let me tell you all:

“When I sent you my last message I was at the Tower of Observation. As the last wave was emitted from the transmitter, the hand of Superintendent Alca, whom I met at the mines, was laid upon my shoulder. I looked up in surprise. He answered my questioning glance: ‘I did not return with Chapman. There was no need of it. A barge going to the City of Light took the body. I explained everything in a letter to the Council. I was distressed over the news I had received of the approach of the cometary mass, which I have detected myself, and I hurried after you in my own kil-chow (the name of the little porcelain steamers), anxious to see this terrible thing. Let us go out and watch the wonder. Whatever happens we shall remain together. I am from Scandor myself, and though I might have been safer at the mines, I could not stay there in the crisis.’

“We descended to the ground and walked out over the hillside. The encircling range of high country about Scandor is, perhaps, one thousand feet high. Its crest is a low swell, that beyond the city falls away in broken, irregular slopes to the country of the Ribi on one side, and to far outstretched plains on almost every other side. This dome was covered with the people of Scandor, fleeing from the doomed city. The long lines of moving figures were issuing from the city through its numerous boulevards, and crowding the spaces on the hilltops. The astronomers knew exactly now the nature of the approaching mass, its orbit, spacial extent and weight. Their proclamation had been prepared and pasted all over the city, announcing its certain destruction, but that the area of devastation would only embrace the city, that the cometary visitor was a narrow train or procession of meteors of stone and iron, that the force of impact would be considerable, enough to crush to the ground the glassy splendor of the beautiful city, and that beyond its limits there would be almost no falls.

“Beautiful, indeed, was Scandor in the morning light. It lay before us shining with a hundred hues. How can I tell you of its exquisite perfection! Its arrangement expressed a color scheme simple and effective. The amphitheatre rose in the center, an opalescent yellow; the boulevards spaced with trees, stretched out in radiating lines from it, defined by the blue lines of ornamental metal pillars which held the lamps; from point to point, piercing the air from the shady peaks or squares shot up also the needles of metal holding the curious electric globes, while at regular intervals blue domes like gigantic azure bubbles interrupted the streets of square and colonnaded houses, that began around the amphitheatre, with pale saffron tones, and grew in intensity until the edges of the huge populous ellipse were laid like a deep orange rim upon the green country side. The light falling upon this reflected, refracted and dispersed, seemed to convert it into a liquid and faintly throbbing lake of color, cut up into segments by the dark lanes or streets of trees.

“And this was to be crushed and crumbled to the ground. The houses and all the constructions are built of glass bricks laid in courses, as with you on the earth, a soluble glass forming the cement that holds them in contact and together. The huge glass factories making this formed a black circle in one part of the City.

“It was now day, and the meteoric nebula was invisible. All day the people came crowding to the hills. At last, as we gazed in bewildered admiration at the strange multitudes about us, the sound of distant music, the organ-like swell of a titanic chorus approaching was heard. Far away down the boulevard, on whose apex we stood, we saw a marching retinue of men and women surrounding a platform borne on the shoulders of men. The platform held the upright figures of the Council amongst whom, distinguished by a blue chalcal tunic bound about him by yellow cords, was the noble being I had seen in the Council chamber on the night of my arrival in Scandor.

“How marvellous it all seemed. The sense of unreality, of dreamland again overpowered me, a wild horror like some mad possession seized me. I shook convulsively, and covered my face in my hands, stricken through and through with a nameless repining misery of doubt, of apprehension, of dismay. It was the last struggle of readjustment between my memories of earth, my identity as a man on the earth, and this new life I had entered. Alca caught me affectionately and placed the acrid bean I had tasted in the City of Light in my mouth. The black suffocation passed, and as I slowly returned to realization and serenity I opened my eyes upon the city, now dead and silent, but blazing with all its lights, awaiting desolation, dressed in its sumptuous glory like some princely captive on whom the doom of immolation, before an unappeasable deity, had suddenly fallen. It was night fall.

“Suddenly a flash, a short piercing note, a loud report, and the sky above us seemed crowded with glowing missiles. The impact from the first arrivals of the cometary body upon the outer envelopes of the Martian atmosphere had begun. A loud shout of attention, surprise and half extemporized terror rose from the multitudes about us. It was a breathless moment. The oncoming shoals shot forward in rapid jets of fire now clouded together in igneous masses, now separated in disjointed streaks and radiant clusters of snapping, shining bolts.

“As yet the material rushing in upon us failed, in most instances, to reach the ground in solid forms. It was burned up in the air. The spectacle was surpassingly strange. The air before us was weaved with crossing shafts, threads, and traces of phosphorescent light. Behind this veil still shone with responsive beauty the great city, while rising occasionally in bursts of color, we could see the alarm rockets from the opposite hills penetrate the entering flood of light with frivolous and extinguished protests.

“About half an hour after the glory reached us, and as on all sides the country shone in spectral illumination, a great mass, decrepitating with minute explosions along its oncoming side, plunged down upon the noble amphitheatre of glass. A dreadful sound of crashing stone followed, and then, rapidly fired from the aerial batteries, came still more of the dark, half ignited bodies, bathed in hurrying streams of evanescent blades, and splinters of light.

“And now the destructive bombardment had really begun. The celestial downpour increased, the valley below us sent upward the detonations of exploding meteorites and the harsh reverberating crash and overthrow of glass fabrics. The lights of the city were brokenly extinguished and the pitiless hail of ruin continued with increasing fierceness.

“It was an awful, glorious scene. The vault of the sky emptying itself in an avalanche of flame, while from within the wide stream of projectiles, collisions caused by some accident of deflection originated interior spots of sudden blazing light. The irregular and separated shocks of sound from the falling city now ran together in a continuous roar of dislocated and broken walls, towers, parapets and citadels. Coruscations sprang out from the yet heated masses, accumulating on the ground, as they became incessantly struck by new accessions. The ground trembled with ceaseless fulminations and impingement, the atmosphere seemed saturated with sulphurous odors, and the panoramic flow of fluctuating splendor shed a day-like brightness upon the upturned faces of the startled and stupefied multitude.

“All night long the invasion continued. The area of destruction, exactly as the astronomers had defined it, was confined to the long elliptical basin in which Scandor lay. Beyond it hardly a branch upon the trees was broken, though occasional erratic bombs shot over us and fell miles away along the borders of the canals.

“As the morning dawned, the shower discontinued, a few laggards fell in scattering confusion over the prostrate city, and the sun climbing the eastern sky sent its peaceful reassuring light upon a cairn-like heap of desolation. The chilled surface of the fallen meteorites were broken up by areas of glowing cinder-like surfaces. The glittering and opaline city of glass, the City of Scandor, capital of the Martian world, was buried beneath the scorching and stony fragments of a minor comet, or some diminished and wandering meteor train which suddenly issuing from the unknown depths of space had descended with mathematical precision upon the treasure city of the planet.

“The Martian legions remained on the hilltops, sombered and silent. The awful reality, impregnable and drear, before them had changed their spirit, and they looked into each other’s faces with bewilderment.

“I had stayed with Alca throughout the night, and I now turning to him said:

“‘Let us go! What can we do here? Let us walk away for awhile. I am dizzy with terror.’

“‘Yes,’ he answered, and tears seemed filling his eyes, ‘we will go. We will walk out into the hill and river country beyond the canal. Many are wandering over the country now. The farmers will harbor us and the beauty of the lanes will bring us cheerfulness.’

“And so we went away, hastening with the Martian velocity of motion until as the sun hung in the zenith, we had reached a hillside sloping upon a meadow space through which passed the clear but sluggish waters of a wide stream. A tulip-like grass was distributed in the heavy luxuriant growth of the meadow, which bore upon pendant threads a blue bell-like flower. A gentle wind, rising and falling, swept over them, lifting and blowing out the cups as it passed off to the surface of the water and printed it with plashes of ripples. A piece of wood pushed out from the hillside, the trees that formed it struggling out into the meadow in a broken succession of individuals like a line of men. Here, leaning against the last tree trunk that stood quite alone in advance of its companions, was a young woman, her arms folded above the cap–like the Grecian cassos–that imperfectly held her hair, and dressed in a yellow tunic and the half seen leggings of meshed chalcal thread–a lovely picture of meditation.

“I caught Alca’s arm in a sudden wave of desire and excitement. It was the impulse of love, the first burning of its sacred fire I had known in Mars, and it was the intense certainty of recognition that made it so impetuous. My Son, your Mother was before me!

“The same glorious beauty I had known on earth covered her, and like a mystic light shone from her face and person. I was myself again, young, and she was the same. The impelling sense of a superhuman Destiny bringing us together again in this new world, forced from me an ejaculation of thankfulness. The cry was not loud, but audible to her ears, and she turned toward us. Yes! it was Martha, as I knew her in those raptured days of love on the banks of the Hudson before disease and weakness and age had stolen the bloom from her cheeks, the light from her eyes, and the fair presentiment of charm and perfection from her body. She did not see me perhaps clearly. Certainly she did not recognize me. An instant’s scrutiny and her face turned again to the open exposure of hill and field, stream and cloud-flecked sky.

“Alca had observed my gestures of delight, and, perhaps reading my thoughts by that intuition of mind so wonderful in the Martians, pushed me toward her gently and moved away from us toward the brink of the river.

“I stood for a moment hesitating, overwhelmed with the marvel of this new thing. I stole on, and finally pushing aside the high grown grass, was at her side–at the side of the very form and feature of the woman who had taught me on earth the worth of living and the meaning and the glory of rectitude.

“She was breathing fast, her bosom rising and falling with quick respirations, and her cheeks flushed with color, made a delicious foil to the pearly tone of her face, concealed on her neck and forehead by the escaping tresses of her dark hair.

“I drew back, trembling with anticipation, my heart beating, and my clasped hands folded on my breast in an agony of restraint. She was talking, talking to herself in the low musical voice of the Martians. The wind had ceased, a dark shadow from a crossing cloud moved toward us from the river over the blue sprinkled field, a haze stole upward from the farther view, and, bending at the margin of the water the figure of Alca bathed in light, seemed to watch us like some calm incarnate response to my own hopes and prayers.

“‘How beautiful, how wonderful it is!’ her arms dropped from her head, the body bent forward to the earth, she knelt; ‘but must it always be as it is! Shall not the companion of my days come to this dear place? The light of sun and moon and stars seems as it always seemed on Earth, but there does not come to me the divine touch of affection, that intimate feeling of oneness and self-surrender that was mine with Randolph on the Earth. A strength unknown to me before, a power of enjoyment, a motion that is ecstacy, thought, feeling, language, all strong, radiant, supreme, but yet loneliness! Memory of the things of Earth hardly remains, except where love prints its firm expression. Randolph, my husband, and Bradford, my boy, to me are deathless. Why can it not be that they should be here also? Can the purposes of divine love be fulfilled by this separation? Shall all the powers of this new life, this beautiful and sinless Nature be wasted for the want of love which holds both Nature and the soul in place, in harmony, in adoration of the One enduring Thought?

“‘How the long years have rolled by since I have left the Earth, and how, amid all the pleasurable things of this serene and hopeful life, the hidden loneliness has denied it the last completing touch of joy! Only as I still dare to believe, that the flight of years must end his aging days on Earth, and that the eternal destiny of married souls is an eternal union, and that his reincarnation here shall bring us into a new and better, richer, deeper harmony of mind and tastes and thoughts; only as the belief grows stronger with passing time, can I, so surrounded with peace and happiness, in this countryside of quiet work and gentle cares, bear longer this awful isolation, the nights of prayerful hope, the days of still enduring hope.

“‘How beautiful it is to live, to watch the changing seasons in this strange new world untouched by sickness or death or sin. And yet,’ she convulsively clasped her face, ‘what beauty, what peace, what sinlessness can replace the only life–the Life of Love?

“‘And then my boy! Can it be possible that I may see him! Why, now he will seem only a brother in this new youth in which I have been born, and yet–and yet–the mother feeling is unchanged; the old yearning, just as when I left him a boy upon the Earth seems as great as ever.

“‘Oh! when shall this waiting all end in our reunion–father, mother, son–and all strong and glad in youth and hope?’

“She rose and stretched out her arms toward some phantasy of thought or fancy in the air above her, and then a song of recall from a distance floated along the meadow and the river’s banks, a sweet, joyous, beckoning melody, that compelled the ear to listen, and the feet to follow.

“Martha half turned–I was dazed with wonder–I did not wish to speak. I could not then have revealed myself. It was all too marvellous, too hard to comprehend. The old doubts of my reality, of the realness of everything I had seen, surged up again, and swept over me in a tide of disillusion.

“Was I dreaming; in the death from Earth had I passed into a wild phantasmagoria of mental pictures, some endless dream where the lulled soul encountered again, as visions, all it may have hoped for, all its unconscious cerebration had limned on the interior canvases of the mind, to be reviewed, as in a sleep, where every detail met the test of curiosity–except that last test–waking? Should I awake?

“I sprang forward and beat myself, in a sort of fury of doubt against the trees about me. The resistance was secure and certain. Pain–it seemed a kind of bliss, as the guarantee of my flesh and blood existence–came to me and in my paroxysms the torn skin of my body bled. I looked at the red stains with exultation. I felt the aches of physical concussion, with a real rapture.

“This life was real, was dual–body and mind–as on Earth, and the woman hastening before me along the marge of the rippling stream–I listened in a kind of feverish anticipation of its silence, for the low cadence of water passing over pebbles–was Martha! It must be true! What agency of superhuman cruelty could thus deceive me? No! my eyes were faithful, and the air, thrilling with the distant song, brought nearer to my ears the answering call of my wife!

“She was far distant. I ran from tree to tree in the wooded back ground and traced her to a little hamlet where a group of Martians awaited her. They turned up a narrow lane singing, and I lost them.

“I returned to Alca, pensively standing on the hill we had first descended, and said nothing of the strange revelation. I contrived to learn from him the name of the little village, and the nature of its inhabitants. He called it Nitansi, and said it had been one of the old spots where migrating souls from other worlds once entered Mars.

“‘A few,’ he added, ‘come there now, though rarely, and the people cultivate flowers in great farms, and formerly sent them to Scandor. I think I saw them moving now along the fields at the riverside. We must go back. I shall go down the canal to Sinsi. I know the Council of Scandor will resolve to rebuild the city.'”

The message closed. I rose and staggered backward into the arms of Jobson. A severe hemorrhage ensued, and slowly thereafter the darkening doors of life began to close upon me. Disease had won its way against all the force of life.

It has been my task during these last weeks of life to write this account of these wonderful experiences, and to leave them to the world as an assurance–to how many will it give a new delight in living, to how many will it remove the bitterness of living, to how many may it bring resignation and hope–that the blight of Death is only an incident in a continuous renewal of Life.

(End of Mr. Dodd’s MS.)

Note by Mr. August Bixby Dodan.

Mr. Dodd died January 20, 1895. He never recovered from the severe shock caused by hemorrhage, after receiving the second message from his father and recorded above. He appreciated the imminence of death acutely, and struggled to complete, as he has, the narrative of his life. My daughter was not again seen by Mr. Dodd, though he received several letters from her, which were found beneath his pillow after his demise.

I was with Mr. Dodd constantly during the latter days of his illness, and then promised him that I should secure the publication of his remarkable story.

I am not willing to hazard any conjecture as to the more extraordinary features of this narrative. I can very positively, however, affirm my complete confidence in Mr. Dodd’s honesty. I knew both his father and himself very well, and through a long intimacy found them both consistently conforming to a very high type of character, courage, and intellectual integrity.

The MS. of Mr. Dodd was handed to me by himself, and I recall with a pathetic interest his smile of appreciative gratitude as I received it, and gave him my earnest assurance that it should be printed, and that the world would be made acquainted with his experiments and their results.

Mr. Dodd was the residuary legatee of his father, and his own will made during his last sickness, appointed me as his executor. My daughter was made his sole heir, with two exceptions; small amounts in favor of his assistants–Jeb Jobson and Andrew Clarke were mentioned in his will–and these sums have been paid by myself to each.

A series of extraordinary misfortunes, for which I am myself measurably to blame, resulted in the complete disappearance of the fortune inherited by my daughter. Her own death and that of my wife, following upon this disaster, though in no way connected with it, obliterated–and here again I admit a very grievous culpability–the remembrance of the MS. of Mr. Dodd and my own promises as to its publication.

I found the MS. of Mr. Dodd carefully wrapped up at the bottom of a trunk of papers, and confess that I opened the package it formed with a bitter sense of self-reproach. Mr. Dodd had expected to publish this paper in New York, and had requested that it should be forwarded to that city. I have at last complied with his wishes, and the MS. leaves my hands, absolutely unchanged, consigned through the kind intervention of a friend, to a publishing house in that western metropolis. I am unable to add anything more to this statement, which, in itself, I fear conveys considerable censure to the undersigned.

August Bixby Dodan.

* * * * *

Note by the Editor.

The MS. alluded to by Mr. Dodan in the preceding paragraphs was safely brought to New York in 1900, and after a very careful examination, repeatedly rejected by the prominent publishers to whom it was submitted.

Through a peculiar accident connected with some negotiations pertaining to a scientific work, contemplated by the writer, the MS. came into his hands, and he has been encouraged to publish it, influenced by the favorable comments of friends upon its intrinsic interest. He also has added to the work as an appendix, which cannot fail to attract the attention of many, the views of the great astronomer Schiaparelli upon the present physical condition of Mars, being the reproduction of an article by that distinguished observer translated from _Nature et Arte_ for February, 1893, by Prof. William H. Pickering and published in the Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for 1894, published here by permission of “Astronomy and Astro-Physics,” in which journal it first appeared in Vol. XIII., numbers 8 and 9, for October and November, 1894. In this report also appeared Schiaparelli’s Map of Mars in 1888, which the Editor has not reproduced in this connection.

The introduction to-day of the wireless telegraphy, assuming a daily increasing importance, furnishes some reasonable hope that the marvellous statements given in Mr. Dodd’s narrative may be more widely verified in the future, and point the way to a realization of the daring and thrilling conception of interplanetary communication.





Many of the first astronomers who studied Mars with the telescope had noted on the outline of its disk two brilliant white spots of rounded form and of variable size. In process of time it was observed that while the ordinary spots upon Mars were displaced rapidly in consequence of its daily rotation, changing in a few hours both their position and their perspective, the two white spots remained sensibly motionless at their posts. It was concluded rightly from this that they must occupy the poles of rotation of the planet, or at least must be found very near to them. Consequently they were given the name of polar caps or spots. And not without reason is it conjectured that these represent upon Mars that immense mass of snow and ice which still to-day prevents navigators from reaching the poles of the earth. We are led to this conclusion not only by the analogy of aspect and of place, but also by another important observation….

As things stand, it is manifest that if the above-mentioned white polar spots of Mars represent snow and ice they should continue to decrease in size with the approach of summer in those places and increase during the winter. Now this very fact is observed in the most evident manner. In the second half of the year 1892 the southern polar cap was in full view; during that interval, and especially in the months of July and August, its rapid diminution from week to week was very evident even to those observing with common telescopes. This snow (for we may well call it so), which in the beginning reached as far as latitude 70 degrees and formed a cap of over 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) in diameter, progressively diminished, so that two or three months later little more of it remained than an area of perhaps 300 kilometers (180 miles) at the most, and still less was seen in the last days of 1892. In these months the southern hemisphere of Mars had its summer, the summer solstice occurring upon October 13. Correspondingly the mass of snow surrounding the northern pole should have increased; but this fact was not observable, since that pole was situated in the hemisphere of Mars which was opposite to that facing the earth. The melting of the northern snow was seen in its turn in the years 1882, 1884 and 1886.

These observations of the alternate increase and decrease of the polar snows are easily made even with telescopes of moderate power, but they become much more interesting and instructive when we can follow assiduously the changes in their more minute particulars, using larger instruments. The snowy regions are then seen to be successively notched at their edges; black holes and huge fissures are formed in their interiors; great isolated pieces many miles in extent stand out from the principal mass and, dissolving, disappear a little later. In short, the same divisions and movements of these icy fields present themselves to us at a glance that occur during the summer of our own arctic regions, according to the descriptions of explorers.

The southern snow, however, presents this peculiarity: The center of its irregularly rounded figure does not coincide exactly with the pole, but is situated at another point, which is nearly always the same, and is distant from the pole about 300 kilometers (180 miles) in the direction of the Mare Erythraeum. From this we conclude that when the area of the snow is reduced to its smallest extent the south pole of Mars is uncovered, and therefore, perhaps, the problem of reaching it upon this planet is easier than upon the earth. The southern snow is in the midst of a huge dark spot, which with its branches occupies nearly one-third of the whole surface of Mars, and is supposed to represent its principal ocean. Hence the analogy with our arctic and antarctic snows may be said to be complete, and especially so with the antarctic one.

The mass of the northern snow cap of Mars is, on the other hand, centered almost exactly upon its pole. It is located in a region of yellow color, which we are accustomed to consider as representing the continent of the planet. From this arises a singular phenomenon which has no analogy upon the earth. At the melting of the snows accumulated at that pole during the long night of ten months and more the liquid mass produced in that operation is diffused around the circumference of the snowy region, converting a large zone of surrounding land into a temporary sea and filling all the lower regions. This produces a gigantic inundation, which has led some observers to suppose the existence of another ocean in those parts, but which does not really exist in that place, at least as a permanent sea. We see then (the last opportunity was in 1884) the white spot of the snow surrounded by a dark zone, which follows its perimeter in its progressive diminution, upon a circumference ever more and more narrow. The outer part of this zone branches out into dark lines, which occupy all the surrounding region, and seem to be distributary canals by which the liquid mass may return to its natural position. This produces in these regions very extensive lakes, such as that designated upon the map by the name of Lacus Hyperboreus; the neighboring interior sea called Mare Acidalium becomes more black and more conspicuous. And it is to be remembered as a very probable thing that the flowing of this melted snow is the cause which determines principally the hydrographic state of the planet and the variations that are periodically observed in its aspect. Something similar would be seen upon the earth if one of our poles came to be located suddenly in the center of Asia or of Africa. As things stand at present, we may find a miniature image of these conditions in the flooding that is observed in our streams at the melting of the Alpine snows.

Travellers in the arctic regions have frequent occasion to observe how the state of the polar ice at the beginning of the summer, and even at the beginning of July, is always very unfavorable to their progress. The best season for exploration is in the month of August, and September is the month in which the trouble from ice is the least. Thus in September our Alps are usually more practicable than at any other season. And the reason for it is clear–the melting of the snow requires time; a high temperature is not sufficient; it is necessary that it should continue, and its effect will be so much the greater, as it is the more prolonged. Thus, if we could slow down the course of our season so that each month should last sixty days instead of thirty, in the summer, in such a lengthened condition, the melting of the ice would progress much further, and perhaps it would not be an exaggeration to say that the polar cap at the end of the warm season would be entirely destroyed. But one cannot doubt, in such a case, that the fixed portion of such a cap would be reduced to a much smaller size, than we see it to-day. Now, this is exactly what happens to Mars. The long year, nearly double our own, permits the ice to accumulate during the polar night of ten or twelve months, so as to descend in the form of a continuous layer as far as parallel 70 degrees, or even farther. But in the day which follows, of twelve or ten months, the sun has time to melt all, or nearly all, of the snow of recent formation, reducing it to such a small area that it seems to us no more than a very white point. And perhaps this snow is entirely destroyed; but of this there is at present no satisfactory observation.

Other white spots of a transitory character and of a less regular arrangement are formed in the southern hemisphere upon the islands near the pole, and also in the opposite hemisphere whitish regions appear at times surrounding the north pole and reaching to 50 degrees and 55 degrees of latitude. They are, perhaps, transitory snows, similar to those which are observed in our latitudes. But also in the torrid zone of Mars are seen some very small white spots more or less persistent; among others one was seen by me in three consecutive oppositions (1877-1882) at the point indicated upon our chart by longitude 268 degrees and latitude 16 degrees north. Perhaps we may be permitted to imagine in this place the existence of a mountain capable of supporting extensive ice fields. The existence of such a mountain has also been suggested by some recent observers upon other grounds.

As has been stated, the polar snows of Mars prove in an incontrovertible manner that this planet, like the earth, is surrounded by an atmosphere capable of transporting vapor, from one place to another. These snows are, in fact, precipitations of vapor, condensed by the cold, and carried with it successively. How carried with it if not by atmospheric movement? The existence of an atmosphere charged with vapor has been confirmed also by spectroscopic observations, principally those of Vogel, according to which this atmosphere must be of a composition differing little from our own, and above all, very rich in aqueous vapor. This is a fact of the highest importance because from it we can rightly affirm with much probability that to water and to no other liquid is due the seas of Mars and its polar snows. When this conclusion is assured beyond all doubt another one may be derived from it of not less importance–that the temperature of the Arean climate notwithstanding the greater distance of that planet from the sun, is of the same order as the temperature of the terrestrial one. Because, if it were true, as has been supposed by some investigators, that the temperature of Mars was on the average very low (from 50 degrees to 60 degrees below zero), it would not be possible for water vapor to be an important element in the atmosphere of that planet nor could Water be an important factor in its physical changes, but would give place to carbonic acid, or to some other liquid whose freezing point was much lower.

The elements of the meteorology of Mars seem, then, to have a close analogy to those of the earth. But there are not lacking, as might be expected, causes of dissimilarity. From circumstances of the smallest moment nature brings forth an infinite variety in its operations. Of the greatest influence must be different arrangement of the seas and the continents upon Mars and upon the earth, regarding which a glance at the map will say more than would be possible in many words. We have already emphasized the fact of the extraordinary periodical flood, which at every revolution of Mars inundates the northern polar region at the melting of the snow. Let us now add that this inundation is spread out to a great distance by means of a network of canals, perhaps constituting the principal mechanism (if not the only one) by which water (and with it organic life) may be diffused over the arid surface of the planet. Because on Mars it rains very rarely, or perhaps even it does not rain at all. And this is the proof.

Let us carry ourselves in imagination into celestial space, to a point so distant from the earth that we may embrace it all at a single glance. He would be greatly in error who had expected to see reproduced there upon a great scale the image of our continents with their gulfs and islands and with the seas that surround them which are seen upon our artificial globes. Then without doubt the known forms or parts of them would be seen to appear under a vaporous veil, but a great part (perhaps one-half) of the surface would be rendered invisible by the immense fields of cloud, continually varying in density, in form, and in extent. Such a hindrance, most frequent and continuous in the polar regions, would still impede nearly half the time the view of the temperate zones, distributing itself in capricious and ever varying configurations. The seas of the torrid zone would be seen to be arranged in long parallel layers, corresponding to the zone of the equatorial and tropical calms. For an observer placed upon the moon the study of our geography would not be so simple an undertaking as one might at first imagine.

There is nothing of this sort in Mars. In every climate and under every zone its atmosphere is nearly perpetually clear and sufficiently transparent to permit one to recognize at any moment whatever the contours of the seas and continents, and, more than that, even the minor configurations. Not indeed that vapors of a certain degree of opacity are lacking, but they offer very little impediment to the study of the topography of the planet. Here and there we see appear from time to time a few whitish spots, changing their position and their form, rarely extending over a very wide area. They frequent by preference a few regions, such as the islands of the Mare Australe, and on the continents the regions designated on the map with the names of Elysium and Tempe. Their brilliancy generally diminishes and disappears at the meridian hour of the place, and is re-enforced in the morning and evening with very marked variations. It is possible that they may be layers of clouds because the upper portions of terrestrial clouds where they are illuminated by the sun appear white. But various observations lead us to think that we are dealing rather with a thin veil of fog instead of a true nimbus cloud, carrying storms and rain. Indeed, it may be merely a temporary condensation of vapor under the form of dew or hoar frost.

Accordingly, as far as we may be permitted to argue from the observed facts, the climate of Mars must resemble that of a clear day upon a high mountain. By day a very strong solar radiation, hardly mitigated at all by mist or vapor; by night a copious radiation from the soil toward celestial space, and because of that a very marked refrigeration. Hence a climate of extremes, and great changes of temperature from day to night, and from one season to another. And as on the earth at altitudes of 5,000 and 6,000 meters (17,000 to 20,000 feet) the vapor of the atmosphere is condensed only into the solid form, producing those whitish masses of suspended crystals which we call cirrus clouds, so in the atmosphere of Mars it would be rarely possible (or would even be impossible) to find collections of cloud capable of producing rain of any consequence. The variation of the temperature from one season to another would be notably increased by their long duration, and thus we can understand the great freezing and melting of the snow which is renewed in turn at the poles at each complete revolution of the planet around the sun.

As our chart demonstrates, in its general topography Mars does not present any analogy with the earth. A third of its surface is occupied by the great Mare Australe, which is strewn with many islands, and the continents are cut up by gulfs, and ramifications of various forms. To the general water system belongs an entire series of small internal seas, of which the Hadriacum and the Tyrrhenum communicate with it by wide mouths, whilst the Cimmerium, the Sirenum, and the Solis Lacus are connected with it only by means of narrow canals. We shall notice in the first four a parallel arrangement, which certainly is not accidental, as also not without reason is the corresponding position of the peninsulas of Ausonia, Hesperia, and Atlantis. The color of the seas of Mars is generally brown, mixed with gray, but not always of equal intensity in all places, nor is it the same in the same place at all times. From an absolute black it may descend to a light-gray or to an ash color. Such a diversity of colors may have its origin in various causes, and is not without analogy also upon the earth, where it is noted that the seas of the warm zone are usually much darker than those nearer the pole. The water of the Baltic, for example, has a light, muddy color that is not observed in the Mediterranean. And thus in the seas of Mars we see the color become darker when the sun approaches their zenith, and summer begins to rule in that region.

All of the remainder of the planet, as far as the north pole is occupied by the mass of the continents, in which, save in a few areas of relatively small extent, an orange color predominates, which sometimes reaches a dark red tint, and in others descends to yellow and white. The variety in this coloring is in part of meteorological origin, in part it may depend on the diverse nature of the soil, but upon its real cause it is not as yet possible to frame any very well grounded hypothesis. Nevertheless, the cause of this predominance of the red and yellow tints upon the surface of ancient Pyrois is well known.[A] Some have thought to attribute this coloring to the atmosphere of Mars, through which the surface of the planet might be seen colored, as any terrestrial object becomes red when seen through red glass. But many facts are opposed to this idea, among others that the polar snows appear always of the purest white, although the rays of light derived from them traverse twice the atmosphere of Mars under great obliquity. We must then conclude that the Arean continents appear red and yellow because they are so in fact.

Besides these dark and light regions, which we have described as seas and continents, and of whose nature there is at present scarcely left any room for doubt, some others exist, truly of small extent, of an amphibious nature, which sometimes appear yellowish like the continents, and are sometimes clothed in brown (even black in certain cases), and assume the appearance of seas, whilst in other cases their color is intermediate in tint, and leaves us in doubt to which class of regions they may belong. Thus all the islands scattered through the Mare Australe and the Mare Erythræum belong to this category; so, too, the long peninsula called Deucalionis Regio and Pyrrhae Regio, and in the vicinity of the Mare Acidalium the regions designated by the names of Baltia and Nerigos. The most natural idea, and the one to which we should be led by analogy, is to suppose these regions to represent huge swamps, in which the variation in depth of the water produces the diversity of colors. Yellow would predominate in those parts where the depth of the liquid layer was reduced to little or nothing, and brown, more or less dark, in those places where the water was sufficiently deep to absorb more light and to render the bottom more or less invisible. That the water of the sea, or any other deep and transparent water, seen from above, appears more dark the greater the depth of the liquid stratum, and that the land in comparison with it appears bright under the solar illumination, is known and confirmed by certain physical reasons. The traveler in the Alps often has occasion to convince himself of it, seeing from the summits the deep lakes with which the region is strewn extending under his feet as black as ink, whilst in contrast with them even the blackest rocks illumined by the sunlight appeared brilliant.[B]

Not without reason, then, have we hitherto attributed to the dark spots of Mars the part of seas, and that of continents to the reddish areas which occupy nearly two-thirds of all the planet, and we shall find later other reasons which confirm this method of reasoning. The continents form in the northern hemisphere a nearly continuous mass, the only important exception being the great lake called the Mare Acidalium, of which the extent may vary according to the time, and which is connected in some way with the inundations which we have said were produced by the melting of the snow surrounding the north pole. To the system of the Mare Acidalium undoubtedly belong the temporary lake called Lacus Hyperboreus and the Lacus Niliacus. This last is ordinarily separated from the Mare Acidalium by means of an isthmus or regular dam, of which the continuity was only seen to be broken once for a short time in 1888. Other smaller dark spots are found here and there in the continental area which we may designate as lakes, but they are certainly not permanent lakes like ours, but are variable in appearance and size according to the seasons, to the point of wholly disappearing under certain circumstances. Ismenius Lacus, Lunae Lacus, Trivium Charontis, and Propontis are the most conspicuous and durable ones. There are also smaller ones, such as Lacus Moeris and Fons Juventae, which at their maximum size do not exceed 100 to 150 kilometers (60 to 90 miles) in diameter, and are among the most difficult objects upon the planet.

All the vast extent of the continents is furrowed upon every side by a network of numerous lines or fine stripes of a more or less pronounced dark color, whose aspect is very variable. These traverse the planet for long distances in regular lines that do not at all resemble the winding courses of our streams. Some of the shorter ones do not reach 500 kilometers (300 miles), others, on the other hand, extend for many thousands, occupying a quarter or sometimes even a third of a circumference of the planet. Some of these are very easy to see, especially that one which is near the extreme left-hand limit of our map and is designated by the name of Nilosyrtis. Others in turn are extremely difficult, and resemble the finest thread of spider’s web drawn across the disk. They are subject also to great variations in their breadth, which may reach 200 or even 300 kilometers (120 to 180 miles) for the Nilosyrtis, whilst some are scarcely 30 kilometers (18 miles) broad.

These lines or stripes are the famous canals of Mars, of which so much has been said. As far as we have been able to observe them hitherto, they are certainly fixed configurations upon the planet. The Nilosyrtis has been seen in that place for nearly one hundred years, and some of the others for at least thirty years. Their length and arrangement are constant, or vary only between very narrow limits. Each of them always begins and ends between the same regions. But their appearance and their degree of visibility vary greatly, for all of them, from one opposition to another, and even from one week to another, and these variations do not take place simultaneously and according to the same laws for all, but in most cases happen apparently capriciously, or at least according to laws not sufficiently simple for us to be able to unravel. Often one or more become indistinct, or even wholly invisible, whilst others in their vicinity increase to the point of becoming conspicuous even in telescopes of moderate power. The first of our maps shows all those that have been seen in a long series of observations. This does not at all correspond to the appearance of Mars at any given period, because generally only a few are visible at once.[C]

Every canal (for now we shall so call them) opens at its ends either into a sea, or into a lake, or into another canal, or else into the intersection of several other canals. None of them have yet been seen cut off in the middle of the continent, remaining without beginning or without end. This fact is of the highest importance. The canals may intersect among themselves at all possible angles, but by preference they converge toward the small spots to which we have given the name of lakes. For example, seven are seen to converge in Lacus Phoenicis, eight in Trivium Charontis, six in Lunae Lacus, and six in Ismenius Lacus.

The normal appearance of a canal is that of a nearly uniform stripe, black, or at least of a dark color, similar to that of the seas, in which the regularity of its general course does not exclude small variations in its breadth and small sinuosities in its two sides. Often it happens that such a dark line opening out upon the sea is enlarged into the form of a trumpet, forming a huge bay, similar to the estuaries of certain terrestrial streams. The Margaritifer Sinus, the Aonius Sinus, the Aurorae Sinus, and the two horns of the Sabæus Sinus are thus formed, at the mouths of one or more canals, opening into the Mare Erythraeum or into the Mare Australe. The largest example of such a gulf is the Syrtis Major, formed by the vast mouth of the Nilosyrtis, so called. This gulf is not less than 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) in breadth, and attains nearly the same depth in a longitudinal direction. Its surface is little less than that of the Bay of Bengal. In this case we see clearly the dark surface of the sea continued without apparent interruption into that canal. Inasmuch as the surfaces called seas are truly a liquid expanse, we cannot doubt that the canals are a simple prolongation of them, crossing the yellow areas or continents.

Of the remainder, that the lines called canals are truly great furrows or depressions in the surface of the planet, destined for the passage of the liquid mass and constituting for it a true hydrographic system, is demonstrated by the phenomena which are observed during the melting of the northern snows. We have already remarked that at the time of melting they appear surrounded by a dark zone, forming a species of temporary sea. At that time the canals of the surrounding region become blacker and wider, increasing to the point of converting at a certain time all of the yellow region comprised between the edge of the snow and the parallel of 60 degrees north latitude into numerous islands of small extent. Such a state of things does not cease until the snow, reduced to its minimum area, ceases to melt. Then the breadth of the canals diminishes, the temporary sea disappears, and the yellow region again returns to its former area. The different phases of these vast phenomena are renewed at each return of the seasons, and we were able to observe them in all their particulars very easily during the oppositions of 1882, 1884, and 1886, when the planet presented its northern pole to terrestrial spectators. The most natural and the most simple interpretation is that to which we have referred, of a great inundation produced by the melting of the snows; it is entirely logical and is sustained by evident analogy with terrestrial phenomena. We conclude, therefore, that the canals are such in fact and not only in name. The network formed by these was probably determined in its origin in the geological state of the planet, and has come to be slowly elaborated in the course of centuries. It is not necessary to suppose them the work of intelligent beings, and, notwithstanding the almost geometrical appearance of all of their system, we are now inclined to believe them to be produced by the evolution of the planet, just as on the earth we have the English Channel and the channel of Mozambique.

It would be a problem not less curious than complicated and difficult to study the system of this immense stream of water, upon which perhaps depends principally the organic life upon the planet, if organic life is found there. The variations of their appearance demonstrated that this system is not constant. When they become displaced or their outlines become doubtful and ill defined, it is fair to suppose that the water is getting low or is even entirely dried up. Then, in place of the canals there remains either nothing or at most stripes of yellowish color differing little from the surrounding background. Sometimes they take on a nebulous appearance, for which at present it is not possible to assign a reason. At other times true enlargements are produced, expanding to 100, 200 or more kilometers (60 to 120 miles) in breadth, and this sometimes happens for canals very far from the north pole, according to laws which are unknown. This occurred in Hydaspes in 1864, in Simois in 1879, in Ackeron in 1884, and in Triton in 1888. The diligent and minute study of the transformations of each canal may lead later to a knowledge of the causes of these effects.

But the most surprising phenomenon pertaining to the canals of Mars is their germination, which seems to occur principally in the months which precede and in those which follow the great northern inundation–at about the times of the equinoxes. In consequence of a rapid process, which certainly lasts at most a few days, or even perhaps, only a few hours, and of which it has not yet been possible to determine the particulars with certainty, a given canal changes its appearance and is found transformed through all its length into two lines or uniform stripes more or less parallel to one another, and which run straight and equal with the exact geometrical precision of the two rails of a railroad. But this exact course is the only point of resemblance with the rails, because in dimensions there is no comparison possible, as it is easy to imagine. These two lines follow very nearly the direction of the original canal and end in the place where it ended. One of these is often superposed as exactly as possible upon the former line, the other being drawn anew; but in this case the original line loses all the small irregularities and curvature that it may have originally possessed. But it also happens that both the lines may occupy opposite sides of the’ former canal and be located upon entirely new ground. The distance between the two lines differs in different germinations and varies from 600 kilometers (360 miles) and more down to the smallest limit at which two lines may appear separated in large visual telescopes–less than at intervals of 50 kilometers (30 miles). The breadth of the stripes themselves may range from the limit of visibility, which we may suppose to be 30 kilometers (18 miles), up to more than 100 kilometers (60 miles). The color of the two lines varies from black to a light red, which can hardly be distinguished from the general yellow background of the continental surface. The space between is for the most part yellow, but in many cases appears whitish. The gemination is not necessarily confined only to the canals, but tends to be produced also in the lakes. Often one of these is seen transformed into two short, broad, dark lines parallel to one another and traversed by a yellow line. In these cases the gemination is naturally short and does not exceed the limits of the original lake.

The gemination is not shown by all at the same time, but when the season is at hand it begins to be produced here and there, in an isolated, irregular manner, or at least without any easily recognizable order. In many canals (such as the Nilosyrtis, for example), the gemination is lacking entirely, or is scarcely visible. After having lasted for some months, the markings fade out gradually and disappear until another season equally favorable for their formation. Thus it happens that in certain other seasons (especially near the southern solstice of the planet) few are seen, or even none at all. In different oppositions the gemination of the same canal may present different appearances as to width, intensity, and arrangement of the two stripes; also in some cases the direction of the lines may vary, although by the smallest quantity, but still deviating by a small amount from the canal with which they are directly associated. From this important fact it is immediately understood that the gemination cannot be a fixed formation upon the surface of Mars and of a geographical character like the canals. The second of our maps will give an approximate idea of the appearance which these singular formations present. It contains all the geminations observed since 1882 up to the present time. In examining it it is necessary to bear in mind that not all of these appearances were simultaneous, and consequently that the map does not represent the condition of Mars at any given period; it is only a sort of topographical register of the observations made of this phenomenon at different times.[D]

The observation of the gemination is one of the greatest difficulty, and can only be made by an eye well practiced in such work, added to a telescope of accurate construction and of great power. This explains why it is that it was not seen before 1882. In the ten years that have transpired since that time, it has been seen and described at eight or ten observatories. Nevertheless, some still deny that these phenomena are real, and tax with illusion (or even imposture) those who declare that they have observed it.

Their singular aspect, and their being drawn with absolute geometrical precision, as if they were the work of rule or compass, has led some to see in them the work of intelligent beings, inhabitants of the planet. I am very careful not to combat this supposition, which includes nothing impossible. (Io mi guarderò bene dal combattere questa supposizione, la quale nulla include d’impossibile.) But it will be noticed that in any case the gemination cannot be a work of permanent character, it being certain that in a given instance it may change its appearance and dimensions from one season to another. If we should assume such a work, a certain variability would not be excluded from it; for example, extensive agricultural labor and irrigation upon a large scale. Let us add, further, that the intervention of intelligent beings might explain the geometrical appearance of the gemination, but it is not at all necessary for such a purpose. The geometry of nature is manifested in many other facts from which are excluded the idea of any artificial labor whatever. The perfect spheroids of the heavenly bodies and the ring of Saturn were not constructed in a turning lathe, and not with compasses has Iris described within the clouds her beautiful and regular arch. And what shall we say of the infinite variety of those exquisite and regular polyhedrons in which the world of crystals is so rich? In the organic world, also, is not that geometry most wonderful which presides over the distribution of the foliage upon certain plants, which orders the nearly symmetrical, star-like figures of the flowers of the field, as well as of the sea, and which produces in the shell such an exquisite conical spiral that excels the most beautiful masterpieces of Gothic architecture? In all these objects the geometrical form is the simple and necessary consequence of the principles and laws which govern the physical and physiological world. That these principles and these laws are but an indication of a higher intelligent Power we may admit, but this has nothing to do with the present argument.

Having regard, then, for the principle that in the explanation of natural phenomena it is universally agreed to begin with the simplest suppositions, the first hypotheses of the nature and cause of the geminations have for the most part put in operation only the laws of inorganic nature. Thus, the gemination is supposed to be due either to the effects of light in the atmosphere of Mars, or to optical illusions produced by vapors in various manners, or to glacial phenomena of a perpetual winter, to which it is known all the planets will be condemned, or to double cracks in its surface, or to single cracks of which the images are doubled by the effect of smoke issuing in long lines and blown laterally by the wind. The examination of these ingenious suppositions leads us to conclude that none of them seem to correspond entirely with the observed facts, either in whole or in part. Some of these hypotheses would not have been proposed had their authors been able to examine the geminations with their own eyes. Since some of these may ask me directly, “Can you suggest anything better?” I must reply candidly, “No.”

It would be far more easy if we were willing to introduce the forces pertaining to organic nature. Here the field of plausible supposition is immense, being capable of making an infinite number of combinations capable of satisfying the appearances even with the smallest and simplest means. Changes of vegetation over a vast area, and the production of animals, also very small, but in enormous multitudes, may well be rendered visible at such a distance. An observer placed in the moon would be able to see such an appearance at the times in which agricultural operations are carried out upon one vast plain–the seed-time and the gathering of the harvest. In such a manner also would the flowers of the plants of the great steppes of Europe and Asia be rendered visible at the distance of Mars–by a variety of coloring. A similar system of operations produced in that planet may thus certainly be rendered visible to us. But how difficult for the Lunarians and the Areans to be able to imagine the true causes of such changes of appearance without having first at least some superficial knowledge of terrestrial nature! So also for us, who know so little of the physical state of Mars, and nothing of its organic world, the great liberty of possible supposition renders arbitrary all explanations of this sort and constitutes the gravest obstacle to the acquisition of well-founded notions. All that we may hope is that with time the uncertainty of the problem will gradually diminish, demonstrating if not what the geminations are, at least what they cannot be. We may also confide a little in what Galileo called “the courtesy of nature,” thanks to which a ray of light from an unexpected source will sometimes illuminate an investigation at first believed inaccessible to our speculations, and of which we have a beautiful example in celestial chemistry. Let us therefore hope and study.


[Footnote A: Pyrois I take to be some terrestrial region, although I have not been able to find any translation of the name.–Translator.]

[Footnote B: This observation of the dark color which deep water exhibits when seen from above is found already noted by the first author of antique memory, for in the Iliad (verses 770-771 of Book V) it is described how “the sentinel from the high sentry box extends his glance over the wine-colored sea, [Greek: _oinopa phonton_].” In the version of Monti the adjective indicating the color is lost.]

[Footnote C: In a footnote the author refers to a drawing of Mars made by himself, September 15, 1892, and says, … “At the top of the disk the Mare Erythraeum and the Mare Australe appear divided by a great curved peninsula, shaped like a sickle, producing an unusual appearance in the area called Deucalionis Regio, which was prolonged that year so as to reach the islands of Noachis and Argyre. This region forms with them a continuous whole, but with faint traces of separation occurring here and there in a length of nearly 6,000 kilometers (4,000 miles). Its color, much less brilliant than that of the continents, was a mixture of their yellow with the brownish gray of the neighboring seas.” The interesting feature of this note is the remark that it was an unusual appearance, the region referred to being that in which the central branch of the fork of the Y appeared. Since no such branch was conspicuously visible this year, it would therefore seem from the above that it was the opposition of 1892 that was peculiar, and not the present one.–Translator.]

[Footnote D: This map may be found also in La Planète Mars, by Flammarion, page 44.–Translator.]