Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Across the Zodiac by Percy Greg

Part 2 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.0 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

the character of its summit satisfied me that no one was likely to
inhabit it, and that though I might descend-it in a few hours, to
ascend it on foot from the plain would be a day's journey. Towards
this I directed my course, looking out from time to time carefully for
any symptoms of human habitation or animal life. I made out by degrees
the lines of rivers, mountain slopes covered by great forests,
extensive valleys and plains, seemingly carpeted by a low, dense, rich
vegetation. But my view being essentially of a bird's-eye character,
it was only in those parts that lay upon my horizon that I could
discern clearly the height of any object above the general level; and
as yet, therefore, there might well be houses and buildings,
cultivated fields and divisions, which I could not see.

Before I had satisfied myself whether the planet was or was not
inhabited, I found myself in a position from which its general surface
was veiled by the evening mist, and directly over the mountain in
question, within some twelve miles of its summit. This distance I
descended in the course of a quarter of an hour, and landed without a
shock about half an hour, so far as I could judge, after the Sun had
disappeared below the horizon. The sunset, however, by reason of the
mists, was totally invisible.


I will not attempt to express the intensity of the mingled emotions
which overcame me as I realised the complete success of the most
stupendous adventure ever proposed or even dreamed by man. I don't
think that any personal vanity, unworthy of the highest lessons I had
received, had much share in my passionate exultation. The conception
was not original; the means were furnished by others; the execution
depended less on a daring and skill, in which any courageous traveller
or man of science knowing what I knew might well have excelled me,
than on the direct and manifest favour of Providence. But this
enterprise, the greatest that man had ever attempted, had in itself a
charm, a sanctity in my eyes that made its accomplishment an
unspeakable satisfaction. I would have laid down life a dozen times
not only to achieve it myself, but even to know that it had been
achieved by others. All that Columbus can have felt when he first set
foot on a new hemisphere I felt in tenfold force as I assured myself
that not, as often before, in dreams, but in very truth and fact, I
had traversed forty million miles of space, and landed in a new world.
Of the perils that might await me I could hardly care to think. They
might be greater in degree.

They could hardly be other in kind, than those which a traveller might
incur in Papua, or Central Africa, or in the North-West Passage. They
could have none of that wholly novel, strange, incalculable character
which sometimes had given to the chances of my etherial voyage a vague
horror and mystery that appalled imagination. For the first time
during my journey I could neither eat nor sleep; yet I must do both. I
might soon meet with difficulties and dangers that would demand all
the resources of perfect physical and mental condition, with heavy
calls on the utmost powers of nerve and muscle. I forced myself,
therefore, to sup and to slumber, resorting for the first time in many
years to the stimulus of brandy for the one purpose, and to the aid of
authypnotism for the other. When I woke it was 8h. by my chronometer,
and, as I inferred, about 5h. after midnight of the Martial meridian
on which I lay. Sleep had given me an appetite for breakfast, and
necessary practical employment calmed the excitement natural to my
situation. My first care, after making ready to quit the Astronaut as
soon as the light around should render it safe to venture into scenes
so much more utterly strange, unfamiliar, and unknown than the wildest
of the yet unexplored deserts of the Earth, was to ascertain the
character of the atmosphere which I was presently to breathe. Did it
contain the oxygen essential to Tellurian lungs? Was it, if capable of
respiration, dense enough to sustain life like mine? I extracted the
plug from the tubular aperture through which I had pumped in the extra
quantity of air that the Astronaut contained; and substituted the
sliding valve I had arranged for the purpose, with a small hole which,
by adjustment to the tube, would give the means of regulating the
air-passage at pleasure. The difficulty of this simple work, and the
tremendous outward pressure of the air, showed that the external
atmosphere was very thin indeed. This I had anticipated. Gravity on
the surface of Mars is less than half what it is on Earth; the total
mass of the planet is as two to fifteen. It was consequently to be
expected that the extent of the Martial atmosphere, and its density
even at the sea-level, would be far less than on the heavier planet.
Rigging the air-pump securely round the aperture, exhausting its
chamber, and permitting the Martial air to fill it, I was glad to find
a pressure equal to that which prevails at a height of 16,000 feet on
Earth. Chemical tests showed the presence of oxygen in somewhat
greater proportion than in the purest air of terrestrial mountains. It
would sustain life, therefore, and without serious injury, if the
change from a dense to a light atmosphere were not too suddenly made.
I determined then gradually to diminish the density of the internal
atmosphere to something not very much greater than that outside. For
this purpose I unrigged the air-pump apparatus, and almost, but not
quite, closed the valve, leaving an aperture about the twentieth part
of an inch in diameter. The silence was instantly broken by a whistle
the shrillest and loudest I had ever heard; the dense compressed
atmosphere of the Astronaut rushing out with a force which actually
created a draught through the whole vessel, to the great discomfiture
of the birds, which roughed their feathers and fluttered about in
dismay. The pressure gauge fell with astonishing rapidity, despite the
minuteness of the aperture; and in a few minutes indicated about 24
barometrical inches. I then checked the exit of the air for a time,
while I proceeded to loosen the cement around the window by which I
had entered, and prepared for my exit. Over a very light flannel
under-vesture I put on a mail-shirt of fine close-woven wire, which
had turned the edge of Mahratta tulwars, repelled the thrust of a
Calabrian stiletto, and showed no mark of three carbine bullets fired
point-blank. Over this I wore a suit of grey broadcloth, and a pair of
strong boots over woollen socks, prepared for cold and damp as well as
for the heat of a sun shining perpendicularly through an Alpine
atmosphere. I had nearly equalised the atmospheric pressure within and
without, at about 17 inches, before the first beams of dawn shone
upward on the ceiling of the Astronaut. A few minutes later I stepped
forth on the platform, some two hundred yards in circumference,
whereon the vessel rested. The mist immediately around me was fast
dispersing; five hundred feet below it still concealed everything. On
three sides descent was barred by sheer precipices; on the fourth a
steep slope promised a practicable path, at least as far as my eye
could reach. I placed the weaker and smaller of my birds in portable
cages, and then commenced my experiment by taking out a strong-winged
cuckoo and throwing him downwards over the precipice. He fell at first
almost like a stone; but before he was quite lost to sight in the
mist, I had the pleasure of seeing that he had spread his wings, and
was able to sustain himself. As the mist was gradually dissolving, I
now ventured to begin my descent, carrying my bird-cages, and
dismissing the larger birds, several of which, however, persistently
clung about me. I had secured on my back an air-gun, arranged to fire
sixteen balls in succession without reloading, while in my belt,
scabbarded in a leathern sheath, I had placed a well and often tried
two-edged sword. I found the way practicable, though not easy, till I
reached a point about 1000 feet below the summit, where farther
progress in the same direction was barred by an abrupt and impassable
cleft some hundred feet deep. To the right, however, the mountain side
seemed to present a safe and sufficiently direct descent. The sun was
a full hour above the horizon, and the mist was almost gone. Still I
had seen no signs of animal life, save, at some distance and in rapid
motion, two or three swarms of flying insects, not much resembling any
with which I was acquainted. The vegetation, mostly small, was of a
yellowish colour, the flowers generally red, varied by occasional
examples of dull green and white; the latter, however, presenting that
sort of creamy tinge which I had remarked in the snow. Here I released
and dismissed my birds one by one. The stronger and more courageous
flew away downwards, and soon disappeared; the weakest, trembling and
shivering, evidently suffering from the thinness of the atmosphere,
hung about me or perched upon the cages.

The scene I now contemplated was exceedingly novel and striking. The
sky, instead of the brilliant azure of a similar latitude on earth,
presented to my eye a vault of pale green, closely analogous to that
olive tint which the effect of contrast often throws over a small
portion of clear sky distinguished among the golden and rose-coloured
clouds of a sunset in our temperate zones.

The vapours which still hung around the north-eastern and
south-eastern horizon, though dispelled from the immediate vicinity of
the Sun, were tinged with crimson and gold much deeper than the tints
peculiar to an earthly twilight. The Sun himself, when seen by the
naked eye, was as distinctly golden as our harvest moon; and the whole
landscape, terrestrial, aerial, and celestial, appeared as if bathed
in a golden light, wearing generally that warm summer aspect peculiar
to Tellurian landscapes when seen through glass of a rich yellow tint.
It was a natural inference from all I saw that there takes place in
the Martial atmosphere an absorption of the blue rays which gives to
the sunlight a predominant tinge of yellow or orange. The small rocky
plateau on which I stood, like the whole of the mountainside I had
descended, faced the extremity of the range of which this mountain was
an outpost; and the valley which separated them was not from my
present position visible. I saw that I should have to turn my back
upon this part of the landscape as I descended farther, and therefore
took note at this point of the aspect it presented. The most prominent
object was a white peak in the distant sky, rising to a height above
my actual level, which I estimated conjecturally at 25,000 feet,
guessing the distance at fifty miles. The summit was decidedly more
angular and pointed, less softened in outline by atmospheric
influences, than those of mountains on Earth. Beyond this in the
farthest distance appeared two or three peaks still higher, but of
which, of course, only the summits were visible to me. On this side of
the central peak an apparently continuous double ridge extended to
within three miles of my station, exceedingly irregular in level, the
highest elevations being perhaps 20,000, the lowest visible
depressions 3000 feet above me. There appeared to be a line of
perpetual snow, though in many places above, this line patches of
yellow appeared, the nearer of which were certainly and the more
distant must be inferred to be covered with a low, close herbaceous
vegetation. The lower slopes were entirely clothed with yellow or
reddish foliage. Between the woods and snow-line lay extensive
pastures or meadows, if they might be so called, though I saw nothing
whatever that at all resembled the grass of similar regions on Earth.
Whatever foliage I saw--as yet I had not passed near anything that
could be called a tree, and very few shrubs--consisted distinctly of
leaves analogous to those of our deciduous trees, chiefly of three
shapes: a sort of square rounded at the angles, with short projecting
fingers; an oval, slightly pointed where it joined the stalk; and
lanceolate or sword-like blades of every size, from two inches to four
feet in length. Nearly all were of a dull yellow or copper-red tinge.
None were as fine as the beech-leaf, none succulent or fleshy; nothing
resembling the blades of grass or the bristles of the pine and
cedar tribes was visible.

My path now wound steadily downward at a slope of perhaps one in eight
along the hillside, obliging me to turn my back to the mountains,
while my view in front was cut off by a sharp cross-jutting ridge
immediately, before me. By the time I turned this, all my birds had
deserted me, and I was not, I think, more than 2000 feet from the
valley below. Just before reaching this point I first caught sight of
a Martial animal. A little creature, not much bigger than a rabbit,
itself of a sort of sandy-yellow colour, bounded from among some
yellow herbage by my feet, and hopped or sprang in the manner of a
kangaroo down the steep slope on my left. When I turned the ridge, a
wide and quite new landscape burst upon my sight. I was looking upon
an extensive plain, the continuation apparently of a valley of which
the mountain range formed the southern limit. To the southward this
plain was bounded by the sea, bathed in the peculiar light I have
tried to describe, and lying in what seemed from this distance a
glassy calm. To eastward and northward the plain extended to the
horizon, and doubtless far beyond it; while from the valley north of
the mountain range emerged a broad river, winding through the plain
till it was lost at the horizon. Plain I have called it, but I do not
mean to imply that it was by any means level. On the contrary, its
surface was broken by undulations, and here and there by hills, but
all so much lower than the point on which I stood that the general
effect was that of an almost flat surface. And now the question of
habitation, and of human habitation, seemed to be solved. Looking
through my field-glass, I saw, following the windings of the river,
what must surely be a road; serving also, perhaps, as an embankment,
since it was raised many feet above the level of the stream. It
seemed, too, that the plain was cultivated. Everywhere appeared
extensive patches, each of a single colour, in every tint between deep
red and yellowish green, and so distinctly rectangular in form as
irresistibly to suggest the idea of artificial, if not human,
arrangement. But there were other features of the scene that dispelled
all doubt upon this point. Immediately to the south-eastward, and
about twenty miles from where I stood, a deep arm of the sea ran up
into the land, and upon the shores of this lay what was unquestionably
a city. It had nothing that looked like fortifications, and even at
this distance I could discern that its streets were of remarkable
width, with few or no buildings so high as mosques, churches,
State-offices, or palaces in Tellurian cities. Their colours were most
various and brilliant, as if reflected from metallic surfaces; and on
the waters of the bay itself rode what I could not doubt to be ships
or rafts. More immediately beneath me, and scattered at intervals over
the entire plain, clustering more closely in the vicinity of the city,
were walled enclosures, and in the centre of each was what could
hardly be anything but a house, though not apparently more than twelve
or fourteen feet high, and covering a space sufficient for an European
or even American street or square. Upon the lower slopes of the hill
whereon I stood were moving figures, which, seen through the
binocular, proved to be animals; probably domestic animals, since they
never ranged very far, and presented none of those signs of
watchfulness and alarm which are peculiar to creatures not protected
by man from their less destructive enemies, and taught to lay aside
their dread of man himself. I had descended, then, not only into an
inhabited world--not only into a world of men, who, however they might
differ in outward form, must resemble in their wants, ideas, and
habits, in short, in mind if not in body, the lords of my own
planet--but into a civilised world and among a race living under a
settled order, cultivating the soil, and taming the brutes to their

And now, as I came on lower ground, I found at each step new objects
of curiosity and interest. A tree with dark-yellowish leaves, taller
than most timber trees on Earth, bore at the end of drooping twigs
large dark-red fruits--fruits with a rind something like that of a
pomegranate, save for the colour and hardness, and about the size of a
shaddock or melon. One of these, just within reach of my hand, I
gathered, but found it impossible to break the thin, dry rind or
shell, without the aid of a knife. Having pierced this, a stream of
red juice gushed out, which had a sweet taste and a strong flavour,
not unlike the juice expressed from cherries, but darker in colour.
Dissecting the fruit completely, I found it parted by a membrane,
essentially of the same nature as the rind, but much thinner and
rather tough than hard, into sixteen segments, like those of an orange
divided across the middle, each of which enclosed a seed. These seeds
were all joined at the centre, but easily separated. They were of a
yellow colour and about as large as an almond kernel. Some fruits
that, being smaller, I concluded to be less ripe, were of a
reddish-yellow. After walking for about a mile through a grove of such
trees, always tending downwards, I came to another of more varied
character. The most prevalent tree here was of lower stature and with
leaves of great length and comparatively narrow, the fruit of which,
though protected by a somewhat similar rind, was of rich golden
colour, not so easily seen among the yellowish leaves, and contained
one solid kernel of about the size of an almond, enclosed entirely in
a sort of spongy material, very palatable to the taste, and resembling
more the inside of roasted maize than any other familiar vegetable. As
I emerged entirely from the grove, I came upon a ditch about twice as
broad as deep. On Earth I certainly could not have leaped it; but
since landing on Mars, I had forgotten the weightless life of the
Astronaut, and felt as if on Earth, but enjoying great increase of
strength and energy; and with these sensations had come instinctively
an exalted confidence in my physical powers. I took, therefore, a
vigorous run, and leaping with all my strength, landed, somewhat to my
own surprise, a full yard on the other side of the ditch.

Having done so, I found myself in what was beyond doubt a cultivated
field, producing nothing but one crimson-coloured plant, about a foot
in height. This carpeted the soil with broad leaves shaped something
like those of the laurel, and in colour exactly resembling a withered
laurel leaf, but somewhat thicker, more metallic and brighter in
appearance, and perfectly free from the bitter taste of the bay tribe.
At a little distance I saw half-a-dozen animals somewhat resembling
antelopes, but on a second glance still more resembling the fabled
unicorn. They were like the latter, at all events, in the single
particular from which it derived its name: they had one horn, about
eight inches in length, intensely sharp, smooth and firm in texture as
ivory, but marbled with vermilion and cream white. Their skins were
cream-coloured, dappled with dark red. Their ears were large and
protected by a lap which fell down so as to shelter the interior part
of the organ, but which they had not quite lost the power to erect at
the approach of a sound that startled them. They looked up at me, at
first without alarm, afterwards with some surprise, and presently
bounded away; as if my appearance, at first familiar, had, on a closer
examination, presented some unusual particulars, frightening them, as
everything unusual frightens even those domestic animals on Earth best
acquainted with man and most accustomed to his caprices. I noticed
that all were female, and their abnormally large udders suggested that
they were domestic creatures kept for their milk. Not being able to
see a path through the field, I went straight forward, endeavouring to
trample the pasture as little as I could, but being surprised to
remark how very little the plants had been injured by the feet of the
animals. The leaves had been grazed, but the stems were seldom or
never broken. In fact, the animals seemed to have gathered their food
as man would do, with an intelligent or instinctive care not to injure
the plant so as to deprive it of the power of reproducing their

In another minute I discerned the object of my paramount interest, of
whose vicinity I had thus far seen nearly every imaginable evidence
except himself. It was undoubtedly a man, but a man very much smaller
than myself. His eyes were fixed upon the ground as if in reverie, and
he did not perceive me till I had come within fifty yards of him, so
that I had full time to remark the peculiarities of his form and
appearance. He was about four feet eight or nine inches in height,
with legs that seemed short in proportion to the length and girth of
the body, but only because, as was apparent on more careful scrutiny,
the chest was proportionately both longer and wider than in our race;
otherwise he greatly resembled the fairer families of the Aryan breed,
the Swede or German. The yellow hair, unshaven beard, whiskers, and
moustache were all close and short. The dress consisted of a sort of
blouse and short pantaloons, of some soft woven fabric, and of a
vermilion colour. The head was protected from the rays of an
equatorial sun by a species of light turban, from which hung down a
short shade or veil sheltering the neck and forehead. His bare feet
were guarded by sandals of some flexible material just covering the
toes and bound round the ankle by a single thong. He carried no
weapon, not even a staff; and I therefore felt that there was no
immediate danger from him. On seeing me he started as with intense
surprise and not a little alarm, and turned to run. Size and length of
limb, however, gave me immense advantage in this respect, and in less
than a minute I had come up with and laid my hand upon him.

He looked up at me, scanning my face with earnest curiosity. I took
from my pocket first a jewel of very exquisite construction, a
butterfly of turquoise, pearl, and rubies, set on an emerald branch,
upon which he looked without admiration or interest, then a watch very
small and elaborately enamelled and jewelled. To the ornament he paid
no attention whatever; but when I opened the watch, its construction
and movement evidently interested him. Placing it in his hands and
endeavouring to signify to him by signs that he was to retain it, I
then held his arm and motioned to him to guide me towards the houses
visible in the distance. This he seemed willing to do, but before we
had gone many paces he repeated two or three times a phrase or word
which sounded like "r'mo-ah-el" ("whence-who-what" do you want?). I
shook my head; but, that he might not suppose me dumb, I answered him
in Latin. The sound seemed to astonish him exceedingly; and as I went
on to repeat several questions in the same tongue, for the purpose of
showing him that I could speak and was desirous of doing so, I
observed that his wonder grew deeper and deeper, and was evidently
mingled first with alarm and afterwards with anger, as if he thought I
was trying to impose upon him. I pointed to the sky, to the summit of
the mountain from which I had descended, and then along the course by
which I had come, explaining aloud at the same time the meaning of my
signs. I thought that he had caught the latter, but if so, it only
provoked an incredulous indignation, contempt of a somewhat angry
character being the principal expression visible in his countenance. I
saw that it was of little use to attempt further conversation for the
present, and, still holding his hand and allowing him to direct me,
looked round again at the scenes through which we were passing. The
lower hill slopes before us appeared to be divided into fields of
large extent, perhaps some 100 acres each, separated by ditches. We
followed a path about two yards broad, raised two or three inches
above the level of the ground, and paved with some kind of hard
concrete. Each ditch was crossed by a bridge of planks, in the middle
of which was a stake or short pole, round which we passed with ease,
but which would obviously baffle a four-footed animal of any size. The
crops were of great variety, and wonderfully free from weeds. Most of
them showed fruit of one kind or another, sometimes gourd-like globes
on the top of upright stalks, sometimes clusters of a sort of nut on
vines creeping along the soil, sometimes a number of pulpy fruits
about the size of an orange hanging at the end of pendulous stalks
springing from the top of a stiff reed-like stem. One field was bare,
its surface of an ochreish colour deeper than that of clay, broken and
smoothed as perfectly as the surface of the most carefully tended
flower-bed. Across this was ranged a row of birds, differing, though
where and how I had hardly leisure to observe, from the form of any
earthly fowl, about twice the size of a crow, and with beaks
apparently at least as powerful but very much longer. Extending
entirely across the field, they kept line with wonderful accuracy, and
as they marched across it, slowly and constantly dug their beaks into
the soil as if seeking grubs or worms beneath the surface. They went
on with their work perfectly undisturbed by our presence. In the next
field was a still odder sight; here grew gourd-like heads on erect
reed-like stems, and engaged in plucking the ripe purple fruit,
carefully distinguishing them from the scarlet unripened heads, were
half-a-score of creatures which, from their occupation and demeanour,
I took at first to be human; but which, as we approached nearer, I saw
were only about half the size of my companion, and thickly covered
with hair, with bushy tails, which they kept carefully erect so as not
to touch the ground; creatures much resembling monkeys in movement,
size, and length, and flexibility of limb, but in other respects more
like gigantic squirrels. They held the stalks of the fruit they
plucked in their mouths, filling with them large bags left at
intervals, and from the manner in which they worked I suspected that
they had no opposable thumbs--that the whole hand had to be used like
the paw of a squirrel to grasp an object. I pointed to these,
directing my companion's attention and asking, "What are they?"
"Ambau," he said, but apparently without the slightest interest in
their proceedings. Indeed, the regularity and entire freedom from
alarm or vigilance which characterised their movements, convinced me
that both these and the birds we passed were domesticated creatures,
whose natural instincts had been turned to such account by human

After a few moments more, we came in sight of a regular road, in a
direction nearly at right angles to that which followed the course of
the river. Like the path, it was constructed of a hard polished
concrete. It was about forty paces broad, and in the centre was a
raised way about four inches higher than the general surface, and
occupying about one-fourth of the entire width. Along the main way on
either side passed from time to time with great rapidity light
vehicles of shining metal, each having three wheels, one small one in
front and two much larger behind, with box-like seat and steering
handle; otherwise resembling nothing so much as the velocipedes I have
seen ridden for amusement by eccentric English youths. It was clear,
however, that these vehicles were not moved by any effort on the part
of their drivers, and their speed was far greater than that of the
swiftest mail-coach:--say, from fifteen to thirty miles an hour. All
risk of collision was avoided, as those proceeding in opposite
directions took opposite sides of the road, separated by the raised
centre I have described. Crossing the road with caution, we came upon
a number of small houses, perhaps twenty feet square, each standing in
the midst of a garden marked out by a narrow ditch, some of them
having at either side wings of less height and thrown a little
backward. In the centre of each, and at the end of the wings where
these existed, was what seemed to be a door of some translucent
material about twelve feet in height. But I observed that these doors
were divided by a scarcely perceptible line up to six feet from the
ground, and presently one of these parted, and a figure, closely
resembling that of my guide, came out.

We had now reached another road which led apparently towards the
larger houses I had seen in the distance, and were proceeding along
the raised central pathway, when some half-dozen persons from the
cottages followed us. At a call from my guide, these, and presently as
many more, ran after and gathered around us. I turned, took down my
air-gun from my back, and waving it around me, signalled to them to
keep back, not choosing to incur the danger of a sudden rush, since
their bearing, if not plainly hostile, was not hospitable or friendly.
Thus escorted, but not actually assailed, I passed on for three or
four miles, by which time we were among the larger dwellings of which
I have spoken. Each of them stood in grounds enclosed by walls about
eight feet high, each of some uniform colour, contrasting agreeably
with that chosen for the exterior of the house. The enclosures varied
in size from about six to sixty acres. The houses were for the most
part some twelve feet in height, and from one to four hundred feet
square. On several flat roofs, guarded by low parapets, other persons,
all about the size of my guide, now showed themselves, all of them
interested, and, as it seemed, somewhat excited by my appearance. In a
few cases groups differently dressed, and, from their somewhat smaller
stature, slighter figures, and the long hair here and there visible,
probably consisting of women, were gathered on a remoter portion of
the roof. But these, when seen by those in front, were always waived
back with an impatient or threatening gesture, and instantly retired.
Presently two or three men more richly dressed than my escort, and in
various colours, came out upon the road. Addressing one of these, I
pointed again to the sky, and again endeavoured to describe my
journey, holding out to him at the same time, as the thing most likely
to conciliate him, a watch somewhat larger than that I had bestowed
upon my guide. He, however, did not come within arm's length; and when
I repeated my signs, he threw back his head with a sort of sneer and
uttered a few words in a sharp tone, at which my escort rushed upon
and attempted to throw me down. For this, however, I had been long
prepared, and striking right and left with my air-gun--for I was
determined not to shed blood except in the last extremity--I speedily
cleared a circle round me, still grasping my guide with the left hand,
from a providential instinct which suggested that his close contiguity
might in some way protect me. A call from the chief of my antagonists
was answered from the roof of a neighbouring house. I heard a whizzing
through the air, and presently something like a winged serpent, but
with a slender neck, and shoulders of considerable breadth, and a head
much larger than a serpent's in proportion to the body, and shaped
more like a bird's, with a sharp, short beak, sprang upon and coiled
round my left arm. That it was trying to sting with an erectile organ
placed about midway between the shoulders and the tail I became
instinctively aware, and presently felt something like a weak electric
thrill over all my body, while my left hand, which was naked,
sustained a severe shock, completely numbing it for the moment. I
caught the beast by the neck, and flung him with all my force right in
the face of my chief antagonist, who fell with a cry of terror.
Looking in the direction from which this dangerous assailant had come,
I perceived another in the air, and saw that not a moment was to be
lost. Dropping my gun with the muzzle between my feet, and holding it
so far as I could with my numbed left hand--releasing also my guide,
but throwing him to the ground as I released him--I drew my sword; and
but just in time, with the same motion with which I drew it, I cut
right through the neck of the dragon that had been launched against
me. My principal enemy had quickly recovered his feet and presence of
mind, and spoke very loudly and at some length to the person who had
launched the dragons. The latter disappeared, and at the same time the
group around me began to disperse. Whatever suited them was certain
not to suit me, and accordingly, still holding my sword, I caught one
of them with each hand. It was well I had done so, for within another
minute the owner of the dragons reappeared with a weapon not wholly
unlike a long cannon of very small bore fixed upon a sort of stand.
This he levelled at me, and I, seeing that a danger of whose magnitude
and nature I could form no exact estimate was impending, caught up
instinctively one of my prisoners, and held him as a shield between
myself and the weapon pointed at me. This checked my enemy, who for
the moment seemed almost as much at a loss as myself. Fortunately his
hostile intention evidently endangered not only my life but all near
me, and secured me from any close attack.

At this moment a somewhat remarkable personage came to the front of
the group which had gathered some few yards before me. He wore a long
frock of emerald green and trousers of the same colour, gathered in at
the waist by a belt of a red metal. On earth I should have taken him
for a hale and vigorous gentleman of some fifty years; he was two
inches short of five feet, but well proportioned as a man of middle
size. Gentleman I say emphatically; for something of dignity, gravity,
and calm good-breeding, was conspicuous in his manner, as authority
unmixed with menace was evident in his tone. He called, somewhat
peremptorily as I thought, to the man who was still aiming his weapon
at my head, then waived back those behind him, and presently advanced
towards me, looking me straight in the eyes with a steadiness and
intensity of gaze far exceeding, both in expressiveness and in effect,
the most fixed stare of the most successful mesmerists I have known. I
doubt whether I should have had the power to resist his will had I
thought it wise to do so. But I was perfectly aware that, however
successful in repelling the first tumultuous attack, prolonged
self-defence was hopeless.

I must, probably at the next move, certainly in a few minutes, succumb
to the enemies around me. I could not conciliate those whose malignity
I could not comprehend. I had done them no injury, and they could
hardly be maddened by fear, since my size and strength did not seem to
overawe them save at close quarters, and of my weapons they were
certainly less afraid than I of theirs. My only chance must lie in
finding favour with an individual protector. When, therefore, the
new-comer fearlessly laid his hand on an arm which could have killed
him at a blow, and rather by gesture than by force released my
captives, policy as well as instinct dictated submission. I allowed
him to disarm and make me in some sense his prisoner without a show of
resistance. He took me by the left hand, first placing my fingers upon
his own wrist and then grasping mine, and led me quietly through the
crowd, which gave way before him reluctantly and not without angry
murmurs, but with a certain awe as before one superior either in power
or rank.

Thus he led me for about half a mile, till we reached the crystal gate
of an enclosure of exceptional size, the walls of which, like the gate
itself, were of a pale rose-colour. Through grounds laid out in
symmetrical alternation of orchard and grove, shrubbery,
close-carpeted field, and garden beds, arranged with evident regard to
effect in form and colour, as well as to fitting distribution of shade
and sun, we followed a straight path which sloped under a canopy of
flowering creepers up to the terrace on which stood the house itself.
There were some eight or nine crystal doors (or windows) in the front,
and in the centre one somewhat larger than the others, which, as we
came immediately in front of it, opened, not turning on hinges, but,
like every other door I had seen, dividing and sliding rapidly into
the walls to the right and left. We entered, and it immediately closed
behind us in the same way. Turning my head for a moment, I was
surprised to observe that, whereas I could see nothing through the
door from the outside, the scene without was as visible from within as
through the most perfectly transparent glass. The chamber in which I
found myself had walls of bright emerald green, with all the brilliant
transparency of the jewel; their surface broken by bas-reliefs of
minutely perfect execution, and divided into panels--each of which
seemed to contain a series of distinct scenes, one above the other--by
living creepers with foliage of bright gold, and flowers sometimes
pink, sometimes cream-white of great size, both double and single; the
former mostly hemispherical and the latter commonly shaped as hollow
cones or Avide shallow champagne glasses. In these walls two or three
doors appeared, reaching, from the floor to the roof, which was
coloured like the walls, and seemingly of the same material. Through
one of these my guide led me into a passage which appeared to run
parallel with the front of the house, and turning down this, a door
again parted on the right hand, through which he led me into a similar
but smaller apartment, some twenty feet in width and twenty-five in
length. The window--if I should so call that which was simply another
door--of this apartment looked into one corner of a flower-garden of
great extent, beyond and at each end of which were other portions of
the dwelling. The walls of this chamber were pink, the surface
appearing as before of jewel-like lustre; the roof and floor of a
green lighter than that of the emerald. In two corners were piles of
innumerable cushions and pillows covered with a most delicate
satin-like fabric, embroidered with gold, silver, and feathers, all
soft as eider-down and of all shapes and sizes. There were three or
four light tables, apparently of metal, silver, or azure, or golden in
colour, in various parts of the chamber, with one or two of different
form, more like small office-tables or desks. In one of the walls was
sunk a series of shelves closed by a transparent sheet of crystal of
pale yellow tinge. There were three or four movable seats resembling
writing or easy-chairs, but also of metal, luxurious all though all
different. In the corner to the left, farthest from the inner court or
peristyle, was a screen, which, as my host showed me, concealed a bath
and some other convenient appurtenances. The bath was a cylinder some
five feet in depth and about two in diameter, with thin double walls,
the space between which was filled with an apparatus of small pipes.
By pressing a spring, as my protector pointed out, countless minute
jets of warm perfumed water were thrown from every part of the
interior wall, forming the most delicious and perfect shower-bath that
could well be devised.

My host then led me to a seat among the cushions, and placed himself
beside me, looking for some time intently and gravely into my face,
but with nothing of offensive curiosity, still less of menace in his
gaze. It appeared to me as if he wished to read the character and
perhaps the thoughts of his guest. The scrutiny seemed to satisfy him.
He stretched out his left hand, and grasping mine, placed it on his
heart, and then dropping my hand, placed his upon my breast. He then
spoke in words whose meaning I could not guess, but the tone sounded
to me as that of inquiry. The question most likely to be asked
concerned my character and the place from which I had come. I again
explained, again pointing upward. He seemed dubious or perplexed, and
it occurred to me that drawing might assist explanation; since, from
the bas-reliefs and tracery, it was evident that the art was carried
to no common excellence in Mars. I drew, therefore, in the first
place, a globe to represent the Earth, traced its orbit round the Sun,
and placed a crescent Moon at some little distance, indicating its
path round the Earth. It was evident that my host understood my
meaning, the more clearly when I marked upon the form of the Earth a
crescent, such as she would often present through a Martial telescope.
Sketches in outline roughly exhibiting different stages of my voyage,
from the first ascent to the final landing, appeared to convince my
host of my meaning, if not of my veracity. Signing to me to remain
where I was, he left the room. In a few minutes he returned,
accompanied by one of the strange squirrel-like animals I had seen in
the fields. I was right in conjecturing that the creature had no
opposable thumb; but a little ingenuity had compensated this so far as
regarded the power of carrying. A little chain hung down from each
wrist, and to these was suspended a tray, upon which were arranged a
variety of fruits and what seemed to be small loaves of various
materials. Breaking one of these and cutting open with a small knife,
apparently of silver, one of the fruits, my host tasted each and then
motioned to me to eat. The attendant had placed the tray upon a table,
disengaged the chains, and disappeared; the door opening and closing
as he trod, somewhat more heavily than had been necessary for my host,
upon particular points of the floor.

The food offered me was very delicious and various in flavour. My host
showed me how to cut the top from some of the hard-rind fruits, so as
to have a cup full of the most delicately-flavoured juice, the whole
pulp having been reduced to a liquid syrup by a process with which
some semicivilised cultivators on Earth are familiar. When I had
finished my meal, my host whistled, and the attendant, returning,
carried away the tray. His master gave him at the same time what was
evidently an order, repeating it twice, and speaking with signal
clearness of intonation. The little creature bowed its head,
apparently as a sign of intelligence, and in a few minutes returned
with what seemed like a pencil or stylus and writing materials, and
with a large silver-like box of very curious form. To one side was
affixed a sort of mouthpiece, consisting of a truncated cone expanding
into a saucer-shaped bowl. Across the wider and outer end of the cone
was stretched a membrane or diaphragm about three inches in diameter.
Into the mouth of the bowl, two or three inches from the diaphragm, my
host spoke one by one a series of articulate but single sounds,
beginning with _a, a, aa, au, o, oo, ou, u, y or ei (long), i (short),
oi, e,_ which I afterwards found to be the twelve vowels of their
language. After he had thus uttered some forty distinct sounds, he
drew from the back of the instrument a slip of something like
goldleaf, on which as many weird curves and angular figures were
traced in crimson. Pointing to these in succession, he repeated the
sounds in order. I made out that the figures in question represented
the sounds spoken into the instrument, and taking out my pencil,
marked under each the equivalent character of the Roman alphabet,
supplemented by some letters not admitted therein but borrowed from
other Aryan tongues. My host looked on with some interest whilst I did
this, and bent his head as if in approval. Here then was the alphabet
of the Martial tongue--an alphabet not arbitrary, but actually
produced by the vocal sounds it represented! The elaborate machinery
modifies the rough signs which are traced by the mere aerial
vibrations; but each character is a true physical type, a visual
image, of the spoken sound; the voice, temper, accent, sex, of a
speaker affect the phonograph, and are recognisable in the record. The
instrument wrote, so to speak, different hands under my voice and
under Esmo's; and those who knew him could identify his phonogram, as
my friends my manuscript.

After I had been employed for some time in fixing these forms and the
corresponding sounds in my memory, my host advanced to the window, and
opening it, led me into the interior garden; which, as I had supposed,
was a species of central court around which the house was built.

The construction of the house was at once apparent. It consisted of a
front portion, divided by the gallery of which I have spoken, all the
rooms on one side thereof looking, like the chamber I first entered,
into the outer enclosure; those on the other into the interior garden
or peristyle. Beyond the latter was a single row of chambers opening
upon it, appropriated to the ladies and children of the household. The
court was roofed over with the translucent material of the windows. It
was about 360 feet in length by 300 in width. At either end were
chambers entirely formed of the same material as the roof, in one of
which the various birds and animals employed either in domestic
service or in agriculture, in another the various stores of the
household, were kept. In front of these, two inclined planes of the
same material as the walls of the house led up to the several parts of
the roof. The court was divided by broad concrete paths into four
gardens. In the centre of each was a basin of water and a fountain,
above which was a square opening of some twenty feet in the roof. Each
garden was, so to speak, turfed with minute plants, smaller than daisy
roots, and even more closely covering the soil than English lawn
grass. These were of different colours--emerald, gold, and
purple--arranged in bands. This turf was broken by a number of beds of
all shapes, the crescent, circle, and six-rayed star being apparently
the chief favourites. The smaller of these were severally filled with
one or two flowers; in the larger, flowers of different colours were
set in patterns, generally rising from the outside to the centre, and
never allowing the soil to be seen through a single interval. The
contrast of colours and tints was admirably ordered; the size, form,
and structure of the flowers wonderfully various and always
exquisitely beautiful. The exact tints of silver and gold were
frequent and especially favoured, At each corner of every garden was a
hollow silvery pillar, up which creepers with flowers of marvellous
size and beauty, and foliage of hues almost as striking as those of
the flowers, were conducted to form a perfect arch overhead, parting
off the gardens from the walks. In each basin were fishes whose
brilliancy of colouring and beauty of form far surpassed anything I
have seen in earthly seas or rivers.

At the meeting of the four cross paths was a wide space covered with a
soft woven carpet, upon which were strown cushions similar to those in
my room. On these several ladies were reclining, who rose as the head
of the family approached. One who seemed by her manner to be the
mistress, and by her resemblance to some of her younger companions the
mother, of the family, wore a sort of light golden half-helmet on the
head, and over this, falling round her half-way to the waist, a
crimson veil, intended apparently to protect her head and neck from
the sun as much as to conceal them. Her face was partially uncovered.
The dress of all was, except in colour and in certain omissions and
additions, much the same. The under-garments must have been slight in
material and few in number. Nothing was to be seen of them save the
sleeves, which were of a delicate substance, resembling that of the
finest Parisian kid gloves, but far softer and finer. Over all was a
robe almost without shape, save what it took from the figure to which
it closely adapted itself, suspended by broad ribbons and jewelled
clasps from the shoulders, falling nearly to the ankles, and gathered
in by a zone at the waist. This garment left the neck, shoulders, and
the upper part of the bosom uncovered; but the veil, whether covering
the head completely, drawn round all save the face, or consisting only
of two separate muslin falls behind either ear, was always so arranged
as to render the general effect far more decorous than the "low
dresses" of European matrons and maidens. The ankles and feet were
entirely bare, save for sandals with an embroidered velvety covering
for the toes, and silver bands clasped round the ankles. The eldest
lady wore a pale green robe of a fine but very light silken-seeming
fabric. Three younger ones wore a similar material of pink, with
silver head-dresses and veils hiding everything but the eyes. All
these had sleeves reaching to the wrist, ending in gloves of the same
fabric. Two young girls were robed in white gauze, with gauze veils
attached over either ear to a very slight silver coronal; their arms
bare till the sleeve of the under-robe appeared, a couple of inches
below the shoulder; their bright soft faces and their long hair (which
fell freely down the back, kept in graceful order here and there by
almost invisible silver clasps or bands) were totally uncovered. "A
maiden," says the Martialist, "may make the most of her charms; a
wife's beauty is her lord's exclusive right." One of the girls, my
host's daughters, might almost have veiled her entire form above the
knees in the masses of rich soft brown hair inherited from her father,
but mingled with tresses of another tinge, shimmering like gold under
certain lights. Her eyes, of deepest violet, were shaded by dark thick
lashes, so long that when the lids were closed they traced a clear
black curve on either cheek. The other maiden had, like their mother,
and, I believe, like the younger matrons, the bright hair--flaxen in
early childhood, pale gold in maturer years--and the blue or grey eyes
characteristic of the race. My host spoke two or three words to the
chief of the party, indicating me by a graceful and courteous wave of
the hand, upon which the person addressed slightly bent her head,
laying her hand at the same time upon her heart. The others
acknowledged the introduction by a similar but slighter inclination,
and all resumed their places as soon as my host, seating himself
between us, signed to me to occupy some pillows which one of the young
ladies arranged on his left hand, I had observed by this time that the
left hand was used by preference, as we use the right, for all
purposes, and therefore was naturally extended in courtesy; and the
left side was, for similar reasons, the place of honour.

Three or four children were playing in another part of the court. All,
with one exception, were remarkably beautiful and healthy-looking,
certainly not less graceful in form and movement than the happiest and
prettiest in our own world. Their tones were soft and gentle, and
their bearing towards each other notably kind and considerate. One
unfortunate little creature differed from the rest in all respects. It
was slightly lame, misshapen rather than awkward, and with a face that
indicated bad health, bad temper, or both. Its manner was peevish and
fractious, its tones sharp and harsh, and its actions rough and hasty.
I took it for a mother's sickly favourite, deformed in character to
compensate for physical deformity. Watching them for a short time, I
saw the little creature repeatedly break out in all the humours of an
ill-tempered, over-indulged youngest-born in an ill-managed family;
snatching toys from the others, and now and then slapping or pinching
them. But they never returned either word or blow, even when pain or
vexation brought the tears to their eyes. When its caprices became
intolerable most of its companions withdrew; one, however, always
remaining on the watch, even if driven from the immediate
neighbourhood by its intolerably provoking temper, tones, and acts.

Before sunset we were joined by a young man, who, first approaching my
host with a respectful inclination of the head, stood before him till
apparently desired by a few quiet words to speak; when he addressed
the head of the family in some short sentences, and then, at a sign
from him, turned to two of the squirrel-like animals, "ambau," which
followed him. These then laid at my feet two large baskets, or open
bags of golden network, containing many of the smaller objects left in
the Astronaut. Emptying these, they brought several more, till they
had laid before me the whole of my wardrobe and my store of intended
presents, books, and drawings, with such of my instruments as were not
attached to the walls. It was evident that great care had been taken
not to injure or dismantle the vessel. Nothing that actually belonged
to it had been taken away, and of the articles brought not one had
been broken or damaged. It was equally evident that there was no
intention or idea of appropriating them. They were brought and handed
over to me as a host on Earth might send for the baggage of an
unexpected guest. Of the various toys and ornaments that I had brought
for the purpose, I offered several of the most precious to my host. He
accepted one of the smallest and least valuable, rather declining to
understand than refusing the offer of the rest. The bringer did the
same. Then placing in the chief's hands an open jewel-box containing a
variety of the choicest jewellery, I requested by signs his permission
to offer them to the ladies. The elder ones imitated his example, and
graciously accepted one or two tasteful feminine ornaments, of far
less beauty and value than any of the few splendid jewels that adorned
their belts and clasped their robes at the shoulder, or fastened their
veils. The white-robed maidens shrank back shyly until the box was
pressed upon them, when each, at a word from the mistress, selected
some small gold or silver locket or chain; each at once placing the
article accepted about her person, with an evident intention of adding
to the grace with which it was received and acknowledging the intended
courtesy. How valueless the most valuable of these trifles must have
been in their eyes I had begun to suspect from what I saw, and was
afterwards made fully aware. As the shades of evening fell, the
fountains ceased to play, the young man pressed electric springs which
closed the openings in the roof, and, finally, turning a small handle,
caused a bright light to diffuse itself over the whole garden, and
through the doors into the chambers opening upon it. At the same time
a warmer air gradually spread throughout the interior of the building.
A meal was then served in small low trays, which was eaten by all of
us reclining on our cushions; after which the ladies retired, and my
host conducted me back to my chamber, and left me to repose.

My books and sketches, as well as the portfolios of popular prints
which I had selected to assist me in describing the life and scenery
of our world, were, with my wardrobe and other properties, arranged on
my shelves by the _ambau_, under the direction of Kevima, the young
gentleman who had superintended their removal and conveyance to his
father's house. The portfolios gave me occasional means and topics of
pleasant intercourse with the family of my host, before we could
converse at ease in their language. The children, though never
troublesome or importunate, took frequent opportunities of stealing
into the room to look over the prints I produced for their amusement.
The ladies also, particularly the violet-eyed maiden, who seemed to be
the especial guardian of the little ones, would draw near to look and
listen. The latter, though she never entered the room or directly
addressed me, often assisted in explaining my broken sentences to her
charges, some of them not many years younger than herself. I took
sincere pleasure in the children's company and growing confidence, but
they were not the less welcome because they drew their sisters to
listen to my descriptions of an existence so strange and so remote in
habits and character, as well as in space. Perhaps their gentle
governess learned more than any other member of the family respecting
Earth-life, and my own adventures by land and water, in air and space.
For, though just not child enough to share the children's freedom, she
took in all they heard; she listened in silence during our evening
gatherings to the conversation in which her father and brother
encouraged me to practise the language I was laboriously studying. She
had, therefore, double opportunities of acquiring a knowledge which
seemed to interest her deeply; naturally, since it was so absolutely
novel, and communicated by one whose very presence was the most
marvellous of the marvels it attested. How much she understood I could
not judge. Except her mother, the ladies did not take a direct part in
my talk with the children, and but very seldom interposed, through my
host, a shy brief question when the evening brought us all together.
The maidens, despite their theoretical privileges, were even more
reserved than their elders, and the dark-haired Eveena the most silent
and shy of all.

I learned afterwards that the privilege of intercourse with the ladies
of the household, restricted as it was, was wholly exceptional, and
even in this family was conceded only out of consideration for one who
could not safely be allowed to leave the house.


Though treated with the greatest kindness and courtesy, I soon found
reason to understand that I was, at least for the present, a prisoner.
My host or his son never failed to invite me each day to spend some
time in the outer enclosure, but never intentionally left me alone
there. On one occasion, when Kevima had been called away and I
ventured to walk down towards the gate, my host's youngest child, who
had been playing on the roof, ran after me, and reaching me just as my
foot was set on the spring that opened the gate or outer door, caught
me by the hand, and looking up into my face, expressed by glance and
gesture a negative so unmistakable that I thought it expedient at once
to comply and return to the house. There my time was occupied, for as
great a part of each day as I could give to such a task without
extreme fatigue, in mastering the language of the country. This was a
much simpler task than might have been supposed. I soon found that,
unlike any Terrestrial tongue, the language of this people had not
grown but been made--constructed deliberately on set principles, with
a view to the greatest possible simplicity and the least possible
taxation of the memory. There were no exceptions or irregularities,
and few unnecessary distinctions; while words were so connected and
related that the mastery of a few simple grammatical forms and of a
certain number of roots enabled me to guess at, and by and by to feel
tolerably sure of, the meaning of a new word. The verb has six tenses,
formed by the addition of a consonant to the root, and six persons,
plural and singular, masculine and feminine.

Singular. | Masc. | Fem. || Plural. | Masc. | Fem.
I am | ava | ava || We are | avau | avaa
Thou art | avo | avoo || You are | avou | avu
He or she is | avy | ave || They are | avoi | avee

The terminations are the three pronouns, feminine and masculine,
singular and plural, each represented by one of twelve vowel
characters, and declined like nouns. When a nominative immediately
follows the verb, the pronominal suffix is generally dropped, unless
required by euphony. Thus, "a man strikes" is _dak klaftas_, but in
the past tense, _dakny klaftas_, the verb without the suffix being
unpronounceable. The past tense is formed by the insertion of _n_
(_avna_: "I have been"), the future by _m_: _avma_. The imperative,
_avsa_; which in the first person is used to convey determination or
resolve; _avsa_, spoken in a peremptory tone, meaning "I _will_ be,"
while _avso_, according to the intonation, means "be" or "thou shalt
be;" i.e., shalt whether or no. _R_ forms the conditional, _avra_, and
_ren_ the conditional past, _avrena_, "I should have been." The need
for a passive voice is avoided by the simple method of putting the
pronoun in the accusative; thus, _daca_ signifies "I strike," _dacal_
(me strike) "I am struck." The infinitive is _avi; avyta_, "being;"
_avnyta_, "having been;" _avmyta_, "about to be." These are declined
like nouns, of which latter there are six forms, the masculine in _a,
o, and y,_ the feminine in _a, oo, and e;_ the plurals being formed
exactly as in the pronominal suffixes of the verb. The root-word,
without inflexion, alone is used where the name is employed in no
connection with a verb, where in every terrestrial language the
nominative would be employed. Thus, my guide had named the
squirrel-monkeys _ambau_ (sing. _amba_); but the word is declined as

_Singular._ _Plural._

_Nominative_ ambas ambaus

_Accusative_ ambal ambaul

_Dative, to_ or _in_ amban ambaun

_Ablative, by_ or _from_ ambam ambaum

The five other forms are declined in the same manner, the vowel of the
last syllable only differing. Adjectives are declined like nouns, but
have no comparative or superlative degree; the former being expressed
by prefixing the intensitive syllable _ca_, the latter, when used
(which is but seldom) by the prefix _ela_, signifying _the_ in an
emphatic sense, as his Grace of Wellington is in England called _The_
Duke _par excellence_. Prepositions and adverbs end in _t_ or _d_.

Each form of the noun has, as a rule, its special relation to the verb
of the same root: thus from dac, "strike," are derived _daca_,
"weapon" or "hammer;", _daco_, a "stroke" or "striking" [as given]
both masculine; _daca_, "anvil;" _dacoo_, "blow" or "beating" [as
received]; and _dake_, "a thing beaten," feminine. The sixth form,
_daky_, masculine, has in this case no proper signification, and not
being wanted, is not used. Individual letters or syllables are largely
employed in combination to give new and even contradictory meanings to
a root. Thus _n_, like the Latin _in_, signifies "penetration,"
"motion towards," or simply "remaining in a place," or, again,
"permanence." _M_, like the Latin _ab_ or _ex_, indicates "motion
from." _R_ expresses "uncertainty" or "incompleteness," and is
employed to convert a statement into a question, or a relative pronoun
into one of inquiry. _G_, like the Greek _a_ or _anti_, generally
signifies "opposition" or "negation;" _ca_ is, as aforesaid,
intensitive, and is employed, for example, to convert _afi_, "to
breathe," into _cafi_, "to speak." _Cr_ is by itself an interjection
of abhorrence or disgust; in composition it indicates detestation or
destruction: thus, _craky_ signifies "hatred;" _cravi_, "the
destruction of life" or "to kill." _L_ for the most part indicates
passivity, but with different effect according to its place in the
word. Thus _mepi_ signifies "to rule;" _mepil_, "to be ruled;"
_melpi_, "to control one's self;" _lempi_, "to obey." The
signification of roots themselves is modified by a modification of the
principal vowel or consonant, _i.e._, by exchanging the original for
one closely related. Thus _avi_, "exist;" _avi_, "be," in the positive
sense of being this or that; _afi_, "live;" _afi_, "breathe." _Z_ is a
diminutive; _zin_, "with," often abbreviated to _zn_, "combination,"
"union." Thus _znaftau_ means "those who were brought into life
together," or "brethren."

I may add, before I quit this subject, that the Martial system of
arithmetic differs from ours principally in the use of a duodecimal
instead of a decimal basis. Figures are written on a surface divided
into minute squares, and the value of a figure, whether it signify so
many units, dozens, twelve dozens, and so forth, depends upon the
square in which it is placed. The central square of a line represents
the unit's place, and is marked by a line drawn above it. Thus a
figure answering to our I, if placed in the fourth square to the left,
represents 1728. In the third place to the right, counting the unit
square in both cases, it signifies 1/144, and so forth.

In less than a fortnight I had obtained a general idea of the
language, and was able to read easily the graven representations of
spoken sound which I have described; and by the end of a month (to use
a word which had no meaning here) I could speak intelligibly if not
freely. Only in a language so simple could my own anxiety to overcome
as soon as possible a fatal obstacle to all investigation of this new
world, and the diligent and patient assistance given by my host or his
son for a great part of every day, have enabled me to make such rapid
progress. I had noted even, during the short evening gatherings when
the whole family was assembled, the extreme taciturnity of both sexes;
and by the time I could make myself understood, I was not surprised to
learn that the Martials have scarcely the idea of what we mean by
conversation, not talking for the sake of talking, or speaking unless
they have something to discuss, explain, or communicate. I found,
again, that a new and much more difficult task, though fortunately one
not so indispensable, was still in store for me. The Martials have two
forms of writing: the one I have described, which is simply a
mechanical rendering of spoken words into artificially simplified
visible signs; the other, written by hand, with a fine pencil of some
chemical material on a prepared surface, textile or metallic. The
characters of the latter are, like ours wholly arbitrary; but the
contractions and abbreviations are so numerous that the mastery of the
mere alphabet, the forty or fifty single letters employed, is but a
single step in the first stage of the hard task of learning to read.
In no country on Earth, except China, is this task half so severe as
in Mars. On the other hand, when it is once mastered, a far superior
instrument has been gained; the Martial writing being a most terse but
perfectly legible shorthand. Every Martial can write at least as
quickly as he can speak, and can read the written character more
rapidly than the quickest eye can peruse the best Terrestrial print.
Copies, whether of the phonographic or stylographic writing, are
multiplied with extreme facility and perfection. The original, once
inscribed in either manner upon the above-mentioned _tafroo_ or
gold-leaf, is placed upon a sheet of a species of linen, smoother than
paper, called _difra_. A current of electricity sent through the
former reproduces the writing exactly upon the latter, which has been
previously steeped in some chemical composition; the effect apparently
depending on the passage of the electricity through the untouched
metal, and its absolute interception by the ink, if I may so call it,
of the writing, which bites deeply into the leaf. This process can be
repeated almost _ad libitum_; and it is equally easy to take at any
time a fresh copy upon _tafroo_, which serves again for the
reproduction of any number of _difra_ copies. The book, for the
convenience of this mode of reproduction, consists of a single sheet,
generally from four to eight inches in breadth and of any length
required. The writing intended to be thus copied is always minute, and
is read for the most part through magnifying spectacles. A roller is
attached to each end of the sheet, and when not in use the latter is
wound round that attached to the conclusion. When required for
reading, both rollers are fixed in a stand, and slowly moved by
clockwork, which spreads before the eyes of the reader a length of
about four inches at once. The motion is slackened or quickened at the
reader's pleasure, and can be stopped altogether, by touching a
spring. Another means of reproducing, not merely writings or drawings,
but natural objects, consists in a simple adaptation of the _camera
obscura_. [The only essential difference from our photographs being
that the Martial art reproduces colour as well as outline, I omit this

While I was practising myself in the Martial language my host turned
our experimental conversations chiefly, if not exclusively, upon
Terrestrial subjects; endeavouring to learn all that I could convey to
him of the physical peculiarities of the Earth, of geology, geography,
vegetation, animal life in all its forms, human existence, laws,
manners, social and domestic order. Afterwards, when, at the end of
some fifty days, he found that we could converse, if not with ease yet
without fear of serious misapprehension, he took an early opportunity
of explaining to me the causes and circumstances of my unfriendly
reception among his people.

"Your size and form," he said, "startled and surprised them. I gather
from what you have told me that on Earth there are many nations very
imperfectly known to one another, with different dress, language, and
manners. This planet is now inhabited by a single race, all speaking
the same tongue, using much the same customs, and differing from one
another in form and size much less widely than (I understand) do men
upon your Earth. There you might have been taken for a visitor from
some strange and unexplored country. Here it was clear that you were
not one of our race, and yet it was inconceivable what else you could
be. We have no giants; the tallest skeleton preserved in our museums
is scarcely a hand's breadth taller than myself, and does not, of
course, approach to your stature. Then, as you have pointed out, your
limbs are longer and your chest smaller in proportion to the rest of
the body; probably because, as you seem to say, your atmosphere is
denser than ours, and we require ampler lungs to inhale the quantity
of air necessary at each breath for the oxidation of the blood. Then
you were not dumb, and yet affected not to understand our language and
to speak a different one. No such creature could have existed in this
planet without having been seen, described, and canvassed. You did
not, therefore, belong to us. The story you told by signs was quickly
apprehended, and as quickly rejected as an audacious impossibility. It
was an insult to the intelligence of your hearers, and a sufficient
ground for suspecting a being of such size and physical strength of
some evil or dangerous design. The mob who first attacked you were
probably only perplexed and irritated; those who subsequently
interfered may have been animated also by scientific curiosity. You
would have been well worth anatomisation and chemical analysis. Your
mail-shirt protected you from the shock of the dragon, which was meant
to paralyse and place you at the mercy of your assailants; the metal
distributing the current, and the silken lining resisting its passage.
Still, at the moment when I interposed, you would certainly have been
destroyed but for your manoeuvre of laying hold of two of your
immediate escort. Our destructive weapons are far superior to any you
possess or have described. That levelled at you by my neighbour would
have sent to ten times your distance a small ball, which, bursting,
would have asphyxiated every living thing for several yards around.
But our laws regarding the use of such weapons are very stringent, and
your enemy dared not imperil the lives of those you held. Those laws
would not, he evidently thought, apply to yourself, who, as he would
have affirmed, could not be regarded as a man and an object of legal

He explained the motives and conduct of his countrymen with such
perfect coolness, such absence of surprise or indignation, that I felt
slightly nettled, and answered sarcastically, "If the slaughter of
strangers whose account of themselves appears improbable be so
completely a matter of course among you, I am at a loss to understand
your own interference, and the treatment I have received from yourself
and your family, so utterly opposite in spirit as well as in form to
that I met from everybody else."

"I do not," he answered, "always act from the motives in vogue among
my fellow-creatures of this planet; but why and how I differ from them
it might not be well to explain. It is for the moment of more
consequence to tell you why you have been kept in some sense a
prisoner here. My neighbours, independently of general laws, are for
certain reasons afraid to do me serious wrong. While in my company or
in my dwelling they could hardly attempt your life without endangering
mine or those of my family. If you were seen alone outside my
premises, another attempt, whether by the asphyxiator or by a
destructive animal, would probably be made, and might this time prove
successful. Till, therefore, the question of your humanity and right
to the protection of our law is decided by those to whom it has been
submitted, I will beg you not to venture alone beyond the bounds that
afford you security; and to believe that in this request, as in
detaining you perforce heretofore, I am acting simply for your own
welfare, and not," he added, smiling, "with a view to secure the first
opportunity of putting your relation to our race to the tests of the
dissecting table and the laboratory."

"But my story explained everything that seemed inexplicable; why was
it not believed? It was assumed that I could not belong to Mars; yet I
was a living creature in the flesh, and must therefore have come from
some other planet, as I could hardly be supposed to be an inhabitant
of space."

"We don't reason on impossibilities," replied my friend. "We have a
maxim that it is more probable that any number of witnesses should
lie, that the senses of any number of persons should be deluded, than
that a miracle should be true; and by a miracle we mean an
interruption or violation of the known laws of nature."

"One eminent terrestrial sceptic," I rejoined, "has said the same
thing, and masters of the science of probabilities have supported his
assertion. But a miracle should be a violation not merely of the known
but of all the laws of nature, and until you know all those laws, how
can you tell what is a miracle? The lifting of iron by a magnet--I
suppose you have iron and loadstones here as we have on Earth--was, to
the first man who witnessed it, just as complete a violation of the
law of gravity as now appears my voyage through space, accomplished by
a force bearing some relation to that which acts through the magnet."

"Our philosophers," he answered, "are probably satisfied that they
know nearly all that is to be known of natural laws and forces; and to
delusion or illusion human sense is undeniably liable."

"If," I said, "you cannot trust your senses, you may as well
disbelieve in your own existence and in everything around you, for you
know nothing save through those senses which are liable to illusion.
But we know practically that there are limits to illusion. At any
rate, your maxim leads directly and practically to the inference that,
since I do not belong to Mars and cannot have come from any other
world, I am not here, and in fact do not exist. Surely it was somewhat
illogical to shoot an illusion and intend to dissect a spectre! Is not
a fact the complete and unanswerable refutation of its impossibility?"

"A good many facts to which I could testify," he replied, "are in this
world confessed impossibilities, and if my neighbours witnessed them
they would pronounce them to be either impostures or illusions."

"Then," said I, somewhat indignantly, "they must prefer inferences
from facts to facts themselves, and the deductions of logic to the
evidence of their senses. Yet, if that evidence be wanting in
certainty, then, since no chain can be stronger than its weakest
point, inferences are doubly uncertain; first, because they are drawn
from facts reported by sense, and, secondly, because a flaw in the
logic is always possible."

"Do not repeat that out of doors," he answered, smiling. "It is not
permitted here to doubt the infallibility of science; and any one who
ventures to affirm persistently a story which science pronounces
impossible (like your voyage through space), if he do not fall at once
a victim to popular piety, would be consigned to the worse than living
death of life-long confinement in a lunatic hospital."

"In that case I fear very much that I have little chance of being put
under the protection of your laws, since, whatever may be the
impression of those who have seen me, every one else must inevitably
pronounce me non-existent; and a nonentity can hardly be the subject
of legal wrong or have a right to legal redress."

"Nor," he replied, "can there be any need or any right to annihilate
that which does not exist. This alternative may occupy our Courts of
Justice, for aught I know, longer than you or I can hope to live. What
I have asked is that, till these have decided between two
contradictory absurdities, you shall be provisionally and without
prejudice considered as a human reality and an object of legal

"And who," I asked, "has authority _ad interim_ to decide this point?"

"It was submitted," he answered, "in the first place, to the Astynta
(captain, president) who governs this district; but, as I expected, he
declined to pronounce upon it, and referred it to the Mepta (governor)
of the province. Half-an-hour's argument so bewildered the latter that
he sent the question immediately to the Zampta (Regent) of this
dominion, and he, after hearing by telegraph the opening of the case,
at once pronounced that, as affecting the entire planet, it must be
decided by the Campta or Suzerain. Now this gentleman is impatient of
the dogmatism of the philosophers, who have tried recently to impose
upon him one or two new theoretical rules which would limit the amount
of what he calls free will that he practically enjoys; and as the
philosophers are all against you, and as, moreover, he has a strong
though secret hankering after curious phenomena--it would not do to
say, after impossibilities--I do not think he will allow you to be
destroyed, at least till he has seen you."

"Is it possible," I said, "that even your monarch cherishes a belief
in the incredible or logically impossible, and yet escapes the lunatic
asylum with which you threaten me?"

"I should not escape grave consequences were I to attribute to him a
heresy so detestable," said my host. "Even the Campta would not be
rash enough to let it be said that he doubts the infallibility of
science, or of public opinion as its exponent. But as it is the worst
of offences to suggest the existence of that which is pronounced
impossible or unscientific, the supreme authority can always, in
virtue of the enormity of the guilt, insist on undertaking himself the
executive investigation of all such cases; and generally contrives to
have the impossibility, if a tangible one, brought into the presence
either as evidence or as accomplice."

"Well," I rejoined, after a few minutes' reflection, "I don't know
that I have much right to complain of ideas which, after all, are but
the logical development of those which, are finding constantly more
and more favour among our most enlightened nations. I can quite
believe, from what I have seen of our leading scientists, that in
another century it may be dangerous in my own country for my
descendants to profess that belief in a Creator and a future life
which I am superstitious enough to prefer to all the revelations of
all the material sciences."

"As you value your life and freedom," he replied, "don't speak of such
a belief here, save to the members of my own family, and to those with
whom I may tell you you are safe. Such ideas were held here, almost as
generally as you say they now are on Earth, some twelve thousand years
ago, and twenty thousand years ago their profession was compulsory.
But for the last hundred centuries it has been settled that they are
utterly fatal to the progress of the race, to enlightenment, to
morality, and to the practical devotion of our energies to the
business of life; and they are not merely disavowed and denounced, but
hated with an earnestness proportioned to the scientific enthusiasm of
classes and individuals."

"But," said I, "if so long, so severely, and so universally
discountenanced, how can their expression by one man here or there be
considered perilous?"

"Our philosophers say," he replied, "that the attractiveness of these
ideas to certain minds is such that no reasoning, no demonstration of
their absurdity, will prevent their exercising a mischievous influence
upon weak, and especially upon feminine natures; and perhaps the
suspicion that they are still held in secret may contribute to keep
alive the bitterness with which they are repudiated and repressed. But
if they are so held, if there be any who believe that the order of the
universe was at first established, and that its active forces are
still sustained and governed, by a conscious Intelligence--if there be
those who think that they have proof positive of the continued
existence of human beings after death--their secret has been well
kept. For very many centuries have elapsed since the last victim of
such delusions, as they were solemnly pronounced by public vote in the
reign of the four-hundredth predecessor of the present Campta, was
sent as incurable to the dangerous ward of our strictest hospital for
the insane."

A tone of irony, and at the same time an air of guarded reserve,
seemed to pervade all my host's remarks on this subject, and I
perceived that for some reason it was so unpleasant to him that
courtesy obliged me to drop it. I put, therefore, to turn the
conversation, some questions as to the political organisation of which
his words had afforded me a glimpse; and in reply he undertook to give
me a summary of the political history of his planet during the last
few hundred generations.

"If," he said, "in giving you this sketch of the process by which our
present social order has been established, I should mention a class or
party who have stood at certain times distinctly apart from or in
opposition to the majority, I must, in the first place, beg you to ask
no questions about them, and in the next not to repeat incautiously
the little I may tell you, or to show, by asking questions of others,
what you have heard from me."

I gave my promise frankly, of course, and he then gave me the
following sketch of Martial history:--

We date events from the union of all races and nations in a single
State, a union which was formally established 13,218 years ago. At
that time the large majority of the inhabitants of this planet
possessed no other property than their houses, clothes, and tools,
their furniture, and a few other trifles. The land was owned by fewer
than 400,000 proprietors. Those who possessed movable wealth may have
numbered thrice as many. Political and social power was in the hands
of the owners of property, and of those, generally connected with them
by birth or marriage, who were at any rate not dependent on manual
labour for their bread. But among these there were divisions and
factions on various questions more or less trivial, none of them
approaching in importance or interest to the fundamental and
irreconcilable conflict sure one day to arise between those who had
accumulated wealth and those who had not. To gain their ends in one or
another of these frivolous quarrels, each party in turn admitted to
political influence section after section of what you call the
proletariat; till in the year 3278 universal suffrage was granted,
every man and woman over the age of twelve years [6] being entitled to
a single and equal vote.

About the same time the change in opinion of which I have spoken had
taken general effect, and the vast majority of the men, at any rate,
had ceased to believe in a future life wherein the inequalities and
iniquities of this might be redressed. It followed that they were
fiercely impatient of hardships and suffering, especially such as they
thought might be redressed by political and social changes. The
leaders of the multitude, for the most part men belonging to the
propertied classes who had either wasted their wealth or never
possessed any, demanded the abolition of private ownership, first of
land, then of movable wealth; a demand which fiercely excited the
passions of those who possessed neither, and as bitterly provoked the
anger and alarm of those who did. The struggle raged for some
generations and ended by an appeal to the sword; in which, since the
force of the State was by law in the hands of the majority, the
intelligent, thrifty, careful owners of property with their adherents
were signally defeated. Universal communism was established in 3412,
none being permitted to own, or even to claim, the exclusive use of
any portion of the planet's surface, or of any other property except
the share of food and clothing allotted to him. One only privilege was
allowed to certain sectaries who still clung to the habits of the
past, to the permanence and privacy of family life. They were
permitted to have houses or portions of houses to themselves, and to
live there on the share of the public produce allotted to the several
members of each household. It had been assumed as matter of course by
the majority that when every one was forced to work there would be
more than enough for all; that public spirit, and if necessary
coercion, would prove as effectual stimulants to exertion and industry
as interest and necessity had done under the system of private

Those who relied on the refutation of this theory forgot that with
poor and suffering men who look to no future, and acknowledge no law
but such as is created by their own capricious will and pleasure, envy
is even a more powerful passion than greed. The Many preferred that
wealth and luxury should be destroyed, rather than that they should be
the exclusive possession of the Few. The first and most visible effect
of Communism was the utter disappearance of all perishable luxuries,
of all food, clothing, furniture, better than that enjoyed by the
poorest. Whatever could not be produced in quantities sufficient to
give each an appreciable share was not produced at all. Next, the
quarrels arising out of the apportionment of labour were bitter,
constant, and savage. Only a grinding despotism could compose them,
and those who wielded such despotism for a short time excited during
the period of their rule such fierce and universal hatred, that they
were invariably overturned and almost invariably murdered before their
very brief legal term of office had closed. It was not only that those
engaged in the same kind of labour quarrelled over the task assigned
to each, whether allotted in proportion to his strength, or to the
difficulty of his labour, or by lot equally to all. Those to whom the
less agreeable employments were assigned rebelled or murmured, and at
last it was necessary to substitute rotation for division of labour,
since no one would admit that he was best fitted for the lower or less
agreeable. Of course we thus wasted silver tools in doing the work of
iron, and reduced enormously the general production of wealth. Next,
it was found that since one man's industry or idleness could produce
no appreciable effect upon the general wealth, still less upon the
particular share assigned to him, every man was as idle as the envy
and jealousy of his neighbours would allow. Finally, as the produce
annually diminished and the number of mouths to be fed became a
serious consideration, the parents of many children were regarded as
public enemies. The entire independence of women, as equal citizens,
with no recognised relation to individual men, was the inevitable
outcome, logically and practically, of the Communistic principle; but
this only made matters worse. Attempts were of course made to restrain
multiplication by law, but this brought about inquisitions so utterly
intolerable that human nature revolted against them. The sectaries I
have mentioned--around whom, without adopting or even understanding
their principles, gradually gathered all the better elements of
society, every man of intellect and spirit who had not been murdered,
with a still larger proportion of women--seceded separately or in
considerable numbers at once; established themselves in those parts of
the planet whose less fertile soil or less genial climate had caused
them to be abandoned, and there organised societies on the old
principles of private ownership and the permanence of household ties.
By and by, as they visibly prospered, they attracted the envy and
greed of the Communists. They worked under whatever disadvantage could
be inflicted by climate and soil, but they had a much more than
countervailing advantage in mutual attachment, in freedom from the
bitter passions necessarily excited by the jealousy and incessant
mutual interference inseparable from the Communistic system, and in
their escape from the caprice and instability of popular
government--these societies, whether from wisdom or mere reaction,
submitting to the rule of one or a few chief magistrates selected by
the natural leaders of each community. Moreover, they had not merely
the adhesion of all the more able, ambitious, and intellectual who
seceded from a republic in which neither talent nor industry could
give comfort or advantage, but also the full benefit of inventive
genius, stimulated by the hope of wealth in addition to whatever
public spirit the habits of Communism had not extinguished. They
systematically encouraged the cultivation of science, which the
Communists had very early put down as a withdrawal of energy from the
labour due to the community at large. They had a monopoly of
machinery, of improvement, of invention both in agriculture, in
manufactures, and in self-defence. They devised weapons far more
destructive than those possessed by the old _regime_, and still more
superior to such as, after centuries of anarchy and decline, the
Communists were able to procure. Finally, when assailed by the latter,
vast superiority of numbers was annulled by immeasurable superiority
in weapons and in discipline. The secessionists were animated, too, by
a bitter resentment against their assailants, as the authors of the
general ruin and of much individual suffering; and when the victory
was gained, they not infrequently improved it to the utter destruction
of all who had taken part in the attack. Whichever side were most to
blame in the feud, no quarter was given by either. It was an
internecine war of numbers, ignorance, and anarchy against science and
order. On both sides there still remained much of the spirit generated
in times when life was less precious than the valour by which alone it
could be held, and preserved through milder ages by the belief that
death was not annihilation--enough to give to both parties courage to
sacrifice their lives for the victory of their cause and the
destruction of their enemies. But after a few crushing defeats, the
Communists were compelled to sue for peace, and to cede a large part
of their richest territory. Driven back into their own chaotic misery,
deterred by merciless punishment from further invasion of their
neighbours' dominions, they had leisure to contrast their wretched
condition with that of those who prospered under the restored system
of private ownership, family interest, strong, orderly, permanent
government, material and intellectual civilisation. Machinery did for
the new State, into which the seceding societies were consolidated by
the necessity of self-defence, much more than it had done before
Communism declared war on it. The same envy which, if war had been any
longer possible, would have urged the Communists again and again to
plunder the wealth that contrasted so forcibly their own increasing
poverty, now humbled them to admire and covet the means which had
produced it. At last, after bitter intestine struggles, they
voluntarily submitted to the rule of their rivals, and entreated the
latter to accept them as subjects and pupils. Thus in the 39th century
order and property were once more established throughout the planet.

"But, as I have said, what you call religion had altogether
disappeared--had ceased, at least as an avowed principle, to affect
the ideas and conduct of society or of individuals. The
re-establishment of peace and order concentrated men's energies on the
production of material wealth and the achievement of physical comfort
and ease. Looking forward to nothing after death, they could only make
the best of the short life permitted to them and do their utmost to
lengthen it. In the assurance of speedy separation, affection became a
source of much more anxiety and sorrow than happiness. All ties being
precarious and their endurance short, their force became less and
less; till the utmost enjoyment of the longest possible life for
himself became the sole, or almost the sole, animating motive, the one
paramount interest, of each individual. The equality which logic had
established between the sexes dissolved the family tie. It was
impossible for law to dictate the conditions on which two free and
equal individuals should live together, merely because they differed
in sex. All the State could do it did; it insisted on a provision for
the children. But when parental affection was extinguished, such
provision could only be secured by handing over the infant and its
portion to the guardianship of the State. As children were troublesome
and noisy, the practice of giving them up to public officers to be
brought up in vast nurseries regulated on the strictest scientific
principles became the general rule, and was soon regarded as a duty;
what was at first almost openly avowed selfishness soon justifying and
glorifying itself on the ground that the children were better off
under the care of those whose undivided attention was given to them,
and in establishments where everything was regulated with sole regard
to their welfare, than they could be at home. No law compels us to
send our children to these establishments. In rare cases a favourite
will persuade her lord to retain her pet son and make him heir, but
both the Courts and public opinion discountenance this practice. Some
families, like my own, systematically retain their children and
educate them at home; but it is generally thought that in doing so we
do them a wrong, and our neighbours look askance upon so signal a
deviation from custom; the more so, perhaps, that they half suspect us
of dissenting from their views on other subjects, on which our
opinions do not so directly or so obviously affect our conduct, and on
which therefore we are not so easily convicted of free choice"
[heresy]. Here I inquired whether the birth and parentage of the
children sent to the public establishments were registered, so as to
permit their being reclaimed or inheriting property.

"No," he replied. "Inheritance by mere descent is a notion no longer
favoured. I believe that young mothers sometimes, before parting with
their children, impress upon them some indelible mark by which it may
be possible hereafter to recognise them; but such recognitions seldom
occur. Maternal affection is discountenanced as a purely animal
instinct, a survival from a lower grade of organisation, and does not
generally outlast a ten years' separation; while paternal love is
utterly scouted as an absurdity to which even the higher animals are
not subject. Boys are kept in the public establishments until the age
of twelve, those from ten to twelve being separated from the younger
ones and passing through the higher education in separate colleges.
The girls are educated apart till they complete their tenth year, and
are almost invariably married in the course of the next. At first,
under the influence of the theory of sexual equality, both received
their intellectual instruction in the same classes and passed through
the same examinations. Separation was soon found necessary; but still
girls passed through the same intellectual training as their brothers.
Experience, however, showed that this would not answer. Those girls
who distinguished themselves in the examinations were, with scarcely
an exception, found unattractive as wives and unfit to be mothers. A
very much larger number, a number increasing in every generation,
suffered unmistakably from the severity of the mental discipline to
which they were subjected. The advocates of female equality made a
very hard fight for equal culture; but the physical consequences were
perfectly clear and perfectly intolerable. When a point was reached at
which one half the girls of each generation were rendered invalids for
life, and the other half protected only by a dense stupidity or
volatile idleness which no school punishments could overcome, the
Equalists were driven from one untenable point to another, and forced
at last to demand a reduction of the masculine standard of education
to the level of feminine capacities. Upon this ground they took their
last stand, and were hopelessly beaten. The reaction was so complete
that for the last two hundred and forty generations, the standard of
female education has been lowered to that which by general confession
ordinary female brains can stand without injury to the physique. The
practical consequences of sexual equality have re-established in a
more absolute form than ever the principle that the first purpose of
female life is marriage and maternity; and that, for their own sakes
as for the sake of each successive generation, women should be so
trained as to be attractive wives and mothers of healthy children, all
other considerations being subordinated to these. A certain small
number of ladies avail themselves of the legal equality they still
enjoy, and live in the world much as men. But we regard them as
third-rate men in petticoats, hardly as women at all. Marriage with
one of them is the last resource to which a man too idle or too
foolish to earn his own living will betake himself. Whatever their
education, our women have always found that such independence as they
could earn by hard work was less satisfactory than the dependence,
coupled with assured comfort and ease, which they enjoy as the
consorts, playthings, or slaves of the other sex; and they are only
too glad to barter their legal equality for the certainty of
protection, indolence, and permanent support."

"Then your marriages," I said, "are permanent?"

"Not by law," he replied. "Nothing like what our remote ancestors
called marriage is recognised at all. The maidens who come of age each
year sell themselves by a sort of auction, those who purchase them
arranging with the girls themselves the terms on which the latter will
enter their family. Custom has fixed the general conditions which
every girl expects, and which only the least attractive are forced to
forego. They are promised a permanent maintenance from their master's
estate, and promise in return a fixed term of marriage. After two or
three years they are free to rescind the contract; after ten or twelve
they may leave their husbands with a stipulated pension. They receive
an allowance for dress and so forth proportionate to their personal
attractions or to the fancy of the suitor; and of course the richest
men can offer the best terms, and generally secure the most agreeable
wives, in whatever number they please or think they can without
inconvenience support."

"Then," I said, "the women can divorce themselves at pleasure, but the
men cannot dismiss them! This hardly looks like equality."

"The practical result," he answered, "is that men don't care for a
release which would part them from complaisant slaves, and that women
dare not seek a divorce which can only hand them over to another
master on rather worse terms. When the longer term has expired, the
latter almost always prefer the servitude to which they are accustomed
to an independent life of solitude and friendlessness."

"And what becomes," I asked, "of the younger men who must enter the
world without property, without parents or protectors?"

"We are, after youth has passed, an indolent race. We hardly care, as
a rule, to cultivate our fields or direct our factories; but prefer
devoting the latter half at least of our lives to a somewhat
easy-going cultivation of that division of science which takes hold of
our fancy. These divisions are such as your conversation leads me to
think you would probably consider absurdly minute. A single class of
insects, a single family of plants, the habits of one race of fishes,
suffice for the exclusive study of half a lifetime. Minds of a more
active or more practical bent will spend an equal time over the
construction of a new machine more absolutely automatic than any that
has preceded it. Physical labour is thrown as much as possible on the
young; and even they are now so helped by machinery and by trained
animals, that the eight hours' work which forms their day's labour
hardly tires their muscles. Our tastes render us very anxious to
devolve upon others as soon as possible the preservation and
development of the property we have acquired. A man of moderate means,
long before he has reached his thirtieth [7] year, generally seeks one
assistant; men of larger fortune may want two, five, or ten. These are
chosen, as a rule, by preference from those who have passed the most
stringent and successful collegiate examination. Martial parents are
not prolific, and the mortality in our public nurseries is very large.
I impute it to moral influences, since the chief cause of death is low
vitality, marked nervous depression and want of animal spirits, such
as the total absence of personal tenderness and sympathy must produce
in children. It is popularly ascribed to the over-cultivation of the
race, as plants and animals highly civilised--that is, greatly
modified and bred to an artificial excellence by human agency--are
certainly delicate, unprolific, and especially difficult to rear.
There is little disease in the nurseries, but there is little health
and a deficiency of nervous energy. One fact is significant, however
interpreted, and bears directly on your last question. Since the wide
extension of polygamy, female births are to male about as seven to
six; but the deaths in public nurseries between the first and tenth
years are twenty-nine in twelve dozen admissions in the stronger sex,
and only about ten in the weaker. Read these facts as we may, they
ensure employment to the young men when their education is
completed--the two last years of severe study adding somewhat to the
mortality among them.

"A large number find employment in superintending the property of
others. To give them a practical interest in its preservation and
improvement, they are generally, after a shorter or longer probation,
adopted by their employers as heirs to their estate; our experience of
Communism having taught us that immediate and obvious self-interest is
the only motive that certainly and seriously affects human action. The
distance at which they are kept, and the absolute seclusion of our
family life, enables us easily to secure ourselves against any
over-anxiety on their part to anticipate their inheritance. The
minority who do not thus find a regular place in society are employed
in factories, as artisans, or on the lands belonging to the State. To
ensure their zeal, the last receive a fixed proportion of the produce,
or are permitted to rent land at fixed rates, and at the end of ten
years receive a part thereof in full property. By these means we are
free from all the dangers and difficulties of that state of society
which preceded the Communistic cataclysm. We have poor men, and men
who can live only by daily labour; but these have dissipated their
wealth, or are looking forward at no very distant period to a
sufficient competence. The entire population of our planet does not
exceed two hundred millions, and is not much increased from generation
to generation. The area of cultivable land is about ten millions of
square miles, and half a square mile in these equatorial continents,
which alone are at all generally inhabited, will, if well cultivated
and cared for, furnish the largest household with every luxury that
man's heart can desire. Eight hours' labour in the day for ten years
of life will secure to the least fortunate a reasonable competence;
and an ambitious man, with quick intelligence and reasonable industry,
may always hope to become rich, if he thinks wealth worth the labour
of invention or of exceptionally troublesome work."

"Mars ought, then," I said, "to be a material paradise. You have
attained nearly all that our most advanced political economists regard
as the perfection of economical order--a population nearly stationary,
and a soil much more than adequate to their support; a general
distribution of property, total absence of permanent poverty, and
freedom from that gnawing anxiety regarding the future of ourselves or
our children which is the great evil of life upon Earth and the
opprobrium of our social arrangements. You have carried out, moreover,
the doctrines of our most advanced philosophers; you have absolute
equality before the law, competitive examination among the young for
the best start in life, with equal chances wherever equality is
possible; and again, perfect freedom and full legal equality as
regards the relations of the sexes. Are your countrymen satisfied with
the results?"

"Yes," answered my host, "in so far, at least, that they have no wish
to change them, no idea that any great social or political reforms
could improve our condition. Our lesson in Communism has rendered all
agitation on such matters, all tendency to democratic institutions,
all appeals to popular passions, utterly odious and alarming to us.
But that we are happy I will venture neither to affirm nor to deny.
Physically, no doubt, we have great advantages over you, if I rightly
understand your description of life on Earth. We have got rid of old
age, and, to a great extent, of disease. Many of our scientists
persist in the hope to get rid of death; but, since all that has been
accomplished in this direction was accomplished some two thousand
years back, and yet we continue to die, general opinion hardly concurs
in this hope."

"How do you mean," I inquired, "that you have got rid of old age and
of disease?"

"We have," he replied, "learned pretty fully the chemistry of life. We
have found remedies for that hardening of the bones and weakening of
the muscles which used to be the physical characteristics of declining
years. Our hair no longer whitens; our teeth, if they decay, are now
removed and naturally replaced by new ones; our eyes retain to the
last the clearness of their sight. A famous physician of five thousand
years back said in controversy on this subject, that 'the clock was
not made to go for ever;' by which he meant that human bodies, like
the materials of machines, wore out by lapse of time. In his day this
was true, since it was impossible fully to repair the waste and
physical wear and tear of the human frame. This is no longer so. The
clock does not wear out, but it goes more and more slowly and
irregularly, and stops at last for some reason that the most skilful
inspection cannot discover. The body of him who dies, as we say, 'by
efflux of time' at the age of fifty is as perfect as it was at
five-and twenty. [8] Yet few men live to be fifty-five, [9] and most
have ceased to take much interest in practical life, or even in
science, by forty-five." [10]

"That seems strange," I said. "If no foreign body gets into the
machinery, and the machinery itself does not wear out, it is difficult
to understand why the clock should cease to go."

"Would not some of your race," he asked, "explain the mystery by
suggesting that the human frame is not a clock, but contains, and owes
its life to, an essence beyond the reach of the scalpel, the
microscope, and the laboratory?"

"They hold that it is so. But then it is not the soul but the body
that is worn out in seventy or eighty of the Earth's revolutions."

"Ay," he said; "but if man were such a duplex being, it might be that
the wearing out of the body was necessary, and had been adapted to
release the soul when it had completed its appropriate term of service
in the flesh."

I could not answer this question, and he did not pursue the theme.
Presently I inquired, "If you allow no appeal to popular feeling or
passion, to what was I so nearly the victim? And what is the terrorism
that makes it dangerous to avow a credulity or incredulity opposed to
received opinion?"

"Scientific controversies," he replied, "enlist our strongest and
angriest feelings. It is held that only wickedness or lunacy can
resist the evidence that has convinced a vast majority. By
arithmetical calculation the chances that twelve men are wrong and
twelve thousand [11] right, on a matter of inductive or deductive
proof, are found to amount to what must be taken for practical
certainty; and when the twelve still hold out, they are regarded as
madmen or knaves, and treated accordingly by their fellows. If it be
thought desirable to invoke a legal settlement of the issue, a council
of all the overseers of our scientific colleges is called, and its
decision is by law irrevocable and infallible, especially if ratified
by the popular voice. And if a majority vote be worth anything at all,
I think this modern theory at least as sound as the democratic theory
of politics which prevailed here before the Communistic revolution,
and which seems by your account to be gaining ground on Earth."

"And what," I inquired, "is your political constitution? What are the
powers of your rulers; and how, in the absence of public discussion
and popular suffrage, are they practically limited?"

"In theory they are unlimited," he answered; "in practice they are
limited by custom, by caution, and, above all, by the lack of motives
for misrule. The authority of each prince over those under him, from
the Sovereign to the local president or captain, is absolute. But the
Executive leaves ordinary matters of civil or criminal law to the
Courts of Justice. Cases are tried by trained judges; the old
democratic usage of employing untrained juries having been long ago
discarded, as a worse superstition than simple decision by lot. The
lot is right twelve times in two dozen; the jury not oftener than
half-a-dozen times. The judges don't heat or bias their minds by
discussion. They hear all that can be elicited from parties, accuser,
accused, and witnesses, and all that skilled advocates can say. Then
the secretary of the Court draws up a summary of the case, each judge
takes it home to consider, each writes out his judgment, which is read
by the secretary, none but the author knowing whose it is. If the
majority be five to two, judgment is given; if less, the case is tried
again before a higher tribunal of twice as many judges. If no decision
can be reached, the accused is acquitted for the time, or, in a civil
dispute, a compromise is imposed. The rulers cannot, without incurring
such general anger as would be fatal to their power, disregard our
fundamental laws. Gross tyranny to individuals is too dangerous to be
carried far. It is a capital crime for any but the officers of the
Sovereign and of the twelve Regents to possess the fearfully
destructive weapons that brought our last wars to an end. But any man,
driven to desperation, can construct and use similar weapons so easily
that no ruler will drive a man to such revengeful despair. Again, the
tyranny of subordinate officials would be checked by their chief, who
would be angry at being troubled and endangered by misconduct in which
he had no direct interest. And finally, _personal_ malice is not a
strong passion among us; and our manners render it unlikely that a
ruler should come into such collision with any of his subjects as
would engender such a feeling. Of those immediately about him, he can
and does at once get rid as soon as he begins to dislike, and before
he has cause to hate them. It is our maxim that greed of wealth or
lust of power are the chief motives of tyranny. Our rulers cannot well
hope to extend a power already autocratic, and we take care to leave
them nothing to covet in the way of wealth. We can afford to give them
all that they can desire of luxury and splendour. To enrich to the
uttermost a few dozen governors costs us nothing comparable to the
cost of democracy, with its inseparable party conflicts,
maladministration, neglect, and confusion."

"A clever writer on Earth lately remarked that it would be easy to
satiate princes with all personal enjoyments, but impossible to
satiate all their hangers-on, or even all the members of their

"You must remember," he replied, "that we have here, save in such
exceptional cases as my own, nothing like what you call a family. The
ladies of a prince's house have everything they can wish for within
their bounds and cannot go outside of these. As for dependents, no man
here, at least of such as are likely to be rulers, cares for his
nearest and dearest friends enough to incur personal peril, public
displeasure, or private resentment on their account. The officials
around a ruler's person are few in number, so that we can afford to
make their places too comfortable and too valuable to be lightly
risked. Neglect, again, is pretty sure to be punished by superior
authority. Activity in the promotion of public objects is the only
interest left to princes, while tyranny is, for the reasons I have
given, too dangerous to be carried far."


At this point of our conversation an amba entered the room and made
certain signs which my host immediately understood.

"The Zampta," he said, "has called upon me, evidently on your account,
and probably with some message from his Suzerain. You need not be
afraid," he added. "At worst they would only refuse you protection,
and I could secure you from danger under my own roof, and in the last
extremity effect your retreat and return to your own planet; supposing
for a moment," he added, smiling, "that you are a real being and come
from a real world."

The Regent of that dominion, the only Martialist outside my host's
family with whom I had yet been able to converse, awaited us in the
hall or entrance chamber. I bowed low to him, and then remained
standing. My host, also saluting his visitor, at once took his seat.
The Regent, returning the salute and seating himself, proceeded to
address us; very little ceremony on either side being observed between
this autocratic deputy of an absolute Sovereign and his subjects.

"Esmo _dent Ecasfen_" said the Regent, "will you point out the person
you declare yourself to have rescued from assault and received into
your house on the 431st day of this year?"

"That is the person, Regent," said my host, pointing to me.

The visitor then asked my name, which I gave, and addressing me
thereby, he continued--

"The Campta has requested me to ascertain the truth regarding your
alleged size, so far exceeding anything hitherto known among us. You
will permit me, therefore, to measure your height and girth."

I bowed, and he proceeded to ascertain that I was about a foot taller
and some ten inches larger round the waist than himself. Of these
facts he took note, and then proceeded--

"The signs you made to those who first encountered you were understood
to mean that you descended from the sky, in a vessel which is now left
on the summit of yonder mountain, Asnyca."

"I did not descend from the sky," I replied, "for the sky is, as we
both know, no actual vault or boundary of the atmospheric depths. I
ascended from a world nearer to the Sun, and after travelling for
forty days through space, landed upon this planet in the vessel you

"I am directed," he answered, "to see this vessel, to inspect your
machinery and instruments, and to report thereon to the Suzerain. You
will doubtless be ready to accompany me thither to-morrow two hours
after sunrise. You may be accompanied, if you please, by your host or
any members of his family; I shall be attended by one or more of my
officers. In the meantime I am to inform you that, until my report has
been received and considered, you are under the protection of the law,
and need not apprehend any molestation of the kind you incurred at
first. You will not, however, repeat to any one but myself the
explanation you have offered of your appearance--which, I understand,
has been given in fuller detail to Esmo--until the decision of the
Campta shall have been communicated to you."

I simply bowed my assent; and after this brief but sufficient
fulfilment of the purpose for which he had called, the Regent took his

"What," I asked, when we re-entered my chamber, "is the meaning of the
title by which the Regent addressed you?"

"In speaking to officials," he replied, "of rank so high as his, it is
customary to address them simply by their titles, unless more than one
of the same rank be present, in which case we call them, as we do
inferior officials, by their name with the title appended. For
instance, in the Court of the Sovereign our Regent would be called
Endo Zampta. Men of a certain age and social position, but having no
office, are addressed by their name and that of their residence; and,
_asfe_ meaning a town or dwelling, usage gives me the name of Esmo, in
or of the town of Eca.

"I am sorry," he went on, "that neither my son nor myself can
accompany you to-morrow. All the elder members of my family are
engaged to attend at some distance hence before the hour at which you
can return. But I should not like you to be alone with strangers; and,
independently of this consideration, I should perhaps have asked of
you a somewhat unusual favour. My daughter Eveena, who, like most of
_our_ women" (he laid a special emphasis on the pronoun) "has received
a better education than is now given in the public academies, has been
from the first greatly interested in your narrative and in all you
have told us of the world from which you come. She is anxious to see
your vessel, and I had hoped to take her when I meant to visit it in
your company. But after to-morrow I cannot tell when you may be
summoned to visit the Campta, or whether after that visit you are
likely to return hither. I will ask you, therefore, if you do not
object to what I confess is an unusual proceeding, to take Eveena
under your charge to-morrow."

"Is it," I inquired, "permissible for a young lady to accompany a
stranger on such an excursion?"

"It is very unusual," returned my host; "but you must observe that
here family ties are, as a rule, unknown. It cannot be usual for a
maiden to be attended by father or brother, since she knows neither.
It is only by a husband that a girl can, as a rule, be attended
abroad. Our usages render such attendance exceedingly close, and, on
the other hand, forbid strangers to interrupt or take notice thereof.
In Eveena's presence the Regent will find it difficult to draw you
into conversation which might be inconvenient or dangerous; and
especially cannot attempt to gratify, by questioning you, any
curiosity as to myself or my family."

"But," I said, "from what you say, it seems that the Regent and any
one who might accompany him would draw inferences which might not be
agreeable to you or to the young lady."

"I hardly understand you," he replied. "The only conjecture they could
make, which they will certainly make, is that you are, or are about to
be, married to her; and as they will never see her again, and, if they
did, could not recognise her--as they will not to-morrow know anything
save that she belongs to my household, and certainly will not speak to
her--I do not see how their inference can affect her. When I part with
her, it will be to some one of my own customs and opinions; and to us
this close confinement of girls appears to transcend reasonable
restraint, as it contradicts the theoretical freedom and equality
granted by law to the sex, but utterly withheld by the social usages
which have grown out of that law."

"I can only thank you for giving me a companion more agreeable than
the official who is to report upon my reality," I said.

"I do not desire," he continued, "to bind you to any reserve in
replying to questions, beyond what I am sure you will do without a
pledge--namely, to avoid betraying more than you can help of that
which is not known outside my own household. But on this subject I may
be able to speak more fully after to-morrow. Now, if you will come
into the peristyle, we shall be in time for the evening meal."

Eveena's curiosity had in nowise overcome her silent shyness. She
might possibly have completed her tenth year, which epoch in the life
of Mars is about equivalent to the seventeenth birthday of a damsel
nurtured in North-Western Europe. I hardly think that I had addressed
her directly half-a-dozen times, or had received from her a dozen
words in return. I had been attracted, nevertheless, not only by her
grace and beauty, but by the peculiar sweetness of her voice and the
gentleness of her manner and bearing when engaged in pacifying dispute
or difficulty among the children, and particularly in dealing with the
half-deformed spoilt infant of which I have spoken. This evening that
little brat was more than usually exasperating, and having exhausted
the patience or repelled the company of all the rest, found itself
alone, and set up a fretful, continuous scream, disagreeable even to
me, and torturing to Martial ears, which, adapted to hear in that thin
air, are painfully alive to strident, harsh, or even loud sounds.
Instantly obeying a sign from her mother, Eveena rose in the middle of
a conversation to which she had listened with evident interest, and
devoted herself for half-an-hour to please and pacify this
uncomfortable child. The character and appearance of this infant, so
utterly unlike all its companions, had already excited my curiosity,
but I had found no opportunity of asking a question without risking an
impertinence. On this occasion, however, I ventured to make some
remark on the extreme gentleness and forbearance with which not only
Eveena but the children treated their peevish and exacting brother.

"He is no brother of theirs," said Zulve, the mistress of the house.
"You would hardly find in any family like ours a child with so
irritable a temper or a disposition so selfish, and nowhere a creature
so hardly treated by Nature in body as well as mind."

"Indeed," I said, hardly understanding her answer.

"No," said my host. "It is the rule to deprive of life, promptly and
painlessly, children to whom, from physical deformity or defect, life
is thought unlikely to be pleasant, and whose descendants might be a
burden to the public and a cause of physical deterioration to the
race. It is, however, one of the exceptional tenets to which I have
been obliged to allude, that man should not seek to be wiser than
Nature; and that life should neither be cut short, except as a
punishment for great crimes, nor prolonged artificially contrary to
the manifest intention, or, as our philosophers would say, the common
course of Nature. Those who think with me, therefore, always
endeavour, when we hear in time of their approaching fate, to preserve
children so doomed. Precautions against undue haste or readiness to
destroy lives that might, after all, grow up to health and vigour are
provided by law. No single physician or physiologist can sign a
death-warrant; and I, though no longer a physician by craft, am among
the arbiters, one or more of whom must be called in to approve or
suspend the decision. On these occasions I have rescued from
extinction several children of whose unfitness to live, according to

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest