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some of them seem almost possible — especially one. — But
I will come to that one later. I've got so much to tell
you all at once I scarcely know where to begin. — Yes,
dear, the One happens to be a man. You would not have
me discriminate, would you, when our object is to bring
whatever happiness we can to those less fortunate than
ourselves? You know success in slumming depends first
of all upon getting yourself admired, for then the others
will want to be like you, and once thoroughly dissatisfied
with themselves they are almost certain to reform. Of
course I am only a visitor here, and shall not stay long
enough to take up serious work, so Ooma says I may as
well proceed along the line of least resistance. — If you
remember Ooma's enthusiasm when she ran the Board of
Missions to Inferior Planets, you can fancy her now that
she has an opportunity to carry out all her theories. Oh,
she's great!

My transmigration was disappointing as an experience.
It was nothing more than going to sleep and dreaming
about circles — orange circles, yellow circles, with a thou-
sand others of graduated shades between, and so on
through the spectrum till you pass absolute green and
get a tone or two toward blue and strike the Earth color-
note. Then with me everything got jumbled together
and seemed about to take new shapes, and I woke up in
the most commonplace manner and opened my eyes to
find myself externalized in our Earth Settlement House
with Ooma laughing at me.

780



HERMAN KNICKERBOCKER VIEL^

"Don't stir!" she cried. "Don't lift a finger till we are
sure your specific gravity is all right." And then she
pinched me to see if I was dense enough, because the at-
mosphere is heavier or lighter or something here than
with us.

I reminded her that matter everywhere must maintain
an absolute equilibrium with Its environment, but she pro-
tested.

"That's well enough in theory; you must understand
that the Earth is awfully out of tune at present, and some-
times it requires time to readjust ourselves to its condi-
tions."

— I did not say so, but I fancy Ooma may have been
undergoing readjustment. — My dear, she has grown as
pudgy as a Jupitan, and her clothes — but then she always
did look more like a spiral nebula than anything else.

(The record here becomes unintelligible by reason of
the passage of a thunderstorm above the summit of
Long's Peak.)

— There must be star-dust in the ether. — I never had
to concentrate so hard before. — That's all about the Set-
tlement House, and don't accuse me again of slighting
details. I'm sure you know the place now as well as
Ooma herself, so I can go on to tell what little I have
learned about human beings.

It seems I am never to admit that I was not born on
Earth, for, like all provincials, the humans pride them-
selves on disbelieving everything beyond their own experi-
ence, and if they understood they would be certain to re-
sent intrusions from another planet. I'm sure I don't
blame them altogether when I recall those patronizing
Jupitans. — And I'm told they are awfully jealous and dis-
trustful even of one another, herding together for protec-
tion and governed by so many funny little tribal codes that

781



THE GIRL FROM MERCURY

what is right on one side of an imaginary boundary may
be wrong on the other. — Ooma considers this survival of
the group-soul most interesting, and intends to make it
the subject of a paper. I mention it only to explain why
we call our Settlement a Boarding-House. A Boarding-
House, you must know, is fundamentally a hunting pack
which one can affiliate with or separate from at will. —
Rather a pale yellow idea, isn't it? Ooma thinks it neces-
sary to conform to it in order to be considered respecta-
ble, which is the one thing on Earth most desired. —
What, dear? — Oh, I don't know what it means to be re-
spectable any more than you do. — One thing more. You'll
have to draw on your imagination ! Ooma is called here
Mrs. Bloomer. — Her own name was just a little too un-
earthly. Mrs. signifies that a woman is married. —
What ? — Oh, no, no, no, nothing of the sort. — But I shall
have to leave that for another time. I'm not at all sure
how it is myself.

By the way, if any one should ask you where I am,
just say I've left the planet, and you don't know when
I shall be back. — Yes, you know who I mean. — And,
dear, perhaps you might drop a hint that I detest all for-
eigners, especially Jupitans. — Please don't laugh so hard ;
you'll get the atmospheric molecules all woozy. — Indeed,
there's not the slightest danger here. Just fancy, if you
please, beings who don't know when they are hungry
without consulting a wretched little mechanism, and who
measure their radius of conception by the length of their
own feet. — Of course I shall be on hand for the Solstice !
I wouldn't miss that for an asteroid ! — Oh, did I really
promise that ? Well, I'll tell you about hi-m another time.



782



HERMAN KNICKERBOCKER VIELE

The Second Record
though probably third communication

— I really must not waste so much gray matter, dear,
over unimportant details. But I simply had to tell you all
about my struggles with the clothes. When Ooma came
back, just as I had mastered them with the aid of her
diagrams, the dear thing was so much pleased she actually
hugged me, and I must confess the effect made me forget
my discomfort. Really, an Earth girl is not so much to
be pitied if she has becoming dresses to wear. As you
may be sure I was anxious to compare myself with others,
I was glad enough to hear Ooma suggest going out.

"Come on," she said, executively, "I have only a half-
hour to devote to your first walk. Keep close beside me,
and remember on no account to either dance or sing."

"But if I see others dancing may I not join them?" I
inquired.

"You won't see anybody dancing on Broadway," she
replied, a trifle snubbily, but I resolved to escape from her
as soon as possible and find out for myself.

I shall never forget my shock on discovering the sky
blue instead of the color it should be, but soon my eyes
became accustomed to the change. In fact, I have not
since that first moment been able to conceive of the sky
as anything but blue. And the city ? — Oh, my dear, my
dear, I never expected to encounter anything so much out
of key with the essential euphonies. Of course I have not
traveled very much, but I should say there is nothing in
the universe like a street they call Broadway — unless it
be upon the lesser satellite of Mars, where the poor people
are so awfully cramped for space. When I suggested this
to Ooma she laughed and called me clever, for it seems

783



THE GIRL FROM MERCURY

there is a tradition that a mob of meddling Martians once
stopped on Earth long- enough to give the fooHsh humans
false ideas about architecture and many other matters.
But I soon forgot everything in my interest in the people.
Such a poor puzzle-headed lot they are. One's heart goes
out to them at once as they push and jostle one another
this way and that, with no conceivable object other than
to get anywhere but where they are in the shortest time
possible. One longs to help them ; to call a halt upon their
senseless struggles ; to reason with them and explain how
all the psychic force they waste might, if exerted in con-
structive thought, bring everything they wish to pass.
Mrs. Bloomer assures me they only ridicule those who
venture to interfere, and it will take at least a Saturn
century to so much as start them in the right direction.
Our settlement is their only hope, she says, and even we
can help them only indirectly.

Not long ago, it appears, they had to choose a King or
Mayor, or whatever the creature is called who executes
their silly laws, and our people so manipulated the election
that the choice fell on one of us.

I thought this a really good idea, and supposed, of
course, we must at once have set about demonstrating how
a planet should be managed. But no! that was not our
system, if you please. Instead of making proper laws our
agent misbehaved himself in every way the committee
could suggest, until at last the humans rose against him
and put one of themselves in his place, and after that
things went just a little better than before. This is the
only way in which they can be taught. But, dear me,
isn't it tedious ?

Of course, I soon grew anxious for an exchange of
thought with almost any one, but it was a long while be-
fore I discovered a single person who was not in a violent

784



HERMAN KNICKERBOCKER VIELE

hurry. At last, however, we came upon a human drawn
apart a little from the throng, who stood with folded
arms, engaged apparently in lofty meditation. His coun-
tenance was amiable, althought a little red.

Saying nothing to Ooma of my purpose, I slipped
away from her, and looking up into the creature's eyes
inquired mentally the subject of his thoughts ; also, how
he came to be so inordinately stout, and why he wore
bright metal buttons on his garment. But my only an-
swer was a stupid blink, for his mentality seemed abso-
lutely incapable of receiving suggestions not expressed in
sounds. I observed farther that his aura inclined too
much toward violet for perfect equipoise.

"G'wan out of this, and quit yer foolin'/' he remarked,
missing my meaning altogether.

Of course I spoke then, using the human speech quite
glibly for a first attempt, and hastened to assure him that
though I had no idea of fooling, I should not go on until
my curiosity had been satisfied. But just then Ooma
found me.

"My friend is a stranger," she explained to the brass-
buttoned man.

"Then why don't you put a string to her ?" he asked.

I learned later that I had been addressing one of the
public jesters employed by the community to keep Broad-
way from becoming intolerably dull.

"But you must not speak to people in the street," said
Ooma, "not even to policemen."

"Then how am I to brighten others' lives?" I asked,
more than a little disappointed, for several humans hurry-
ing past had turned upon me looks indicating moods re-
ceptive of all the brightening I could give.

I might have amused myself indefinitely, studying the
rapid succession of varying faces, had not Bloomer cau-

785



THE GIRL FROM MERCURY

tioned me not to stare. She said people would think me
from the country, which is considered discreditable, and
as this reminded me that I had as yet seen nothing grow-
ing, I asked to be shown the gardens and groves.

"There is one," she said, indicating an open space not
far away, where sure enough there stood some wretched
looking trees which I had not recognized before, forget-
ting that, of course, leaves here must be green. I saw no
flowers growing, but presently we came upon some in a
sort of crystal bower guarded by a powerful black person.
I wanted so to ask him how he came to be black, but the
memory of my last attempt at information deterred me.
Instead, I inquired if I might have some roses.

"Walk in. Miss," he replied most civilly, and in I
walked through the door, past the sweetest little embry-
onic, who wore the vesture of a young policeman.

"Boy," I said, "have you begun to realize your soul?"

"Nope," he replied. "I ain't in fractions yet."

— Some stage of earthly progress, I suppose, though I
did not like a certain movement of his eyelid, and one
never can tell, you know, how hard embryonics are really
striving. So I made haste to gather all the roses I could
carry, and was about to hurry after Ooma, when a person
barred my way.

"Hold on !" he cried. "Ain't you forgetting something ?
Why don't you take the whole lot ?"

"Because I have all I want for the present," I answered,
rather frightened, perceiving that his aura had grown
livid, and I don't know how I could have soothed him had
not Ooma once more come to my relief. I could see that
she was annoyed with me, but she controlled herself and
placed some token in the being's hand which acted on his
agitation like a charm.

As I told you. Bloomer had given me with the other

786



HERMAN KNICKERBOCKER VIELE

things, a crown of artificial roses which, now that I had
real flowers to wear, I wanted to throw away, but this
she would not permit, insisting that such a proceeding
would make the humans laugh at me — though to look
into their serious faces one would not believe this possible.
The thoughts of those about me, as I divined them,
seemed anything but jocular. They came to me incoherent
and inconsecutive, a jumble of conditional premises lead-
ing to approximate conclusions expressed in symbols hav-
ing no intrinsic meaning. — Of course, it is unfair to judge
too soon, but I have already begun to doubt the existence
of direct perception among them. — What did you say,
dear? — Bother direct perception? — Well, I wonder how
we should like to apprehend nothing that could not be
put into words ? You, I'm sure, would have the most con-
fused ideas about Earthly conditions if you depended en-
tirely upon my remarks. — Now concentrate, and you shall
hear something really interesting.

— No, not the One yet. — He comes later. —
We had not gone far, I carrying my roses, and Bloomer
not too well pleased, as I fancied, because so many people
turned to look at us (Bloomer has retrograded physically
until she is at times almost Uranian, probably as the result
of wearing black, which appears to be the chromatic
equivalent of respectability), when suddenly I became
sensible of a familiar influence, which was quite startling
because so unexpected. Looking everywhere, I caught
sight of — who do you suppose? Our old friend Tuk. —
Mr. Tuck, T-u-c-k here, if you please. He was about to
enter a — a means of transportation, and though his back
was towards me, I recognized that drab aura of his at
once, and projected a reactionary impulse which was most
effective.

In his surprise he was for the moment in danger of

787



THE GIRL FROM MERCURY

being trampled upon by a rapidly moving animal. — Yes,
dear, I said "animal." — I don't know and I don't consider
it at all important. I do not pretend to be familiar with
mundane zoology. — Tuck declared himself delighted to
see me, and so I believe he was, though he controlled his
radiations in the supercilious way he always had. But
upon one point he did not leave me long in doubt. Ex-
ternally, at least, my Earthly Ego is a —

( Note : The word which signifies a species of peach or
nectarine peculiar to the planet Mercury is doubtless used
here in a symbolic sense.)

— I caught on to that most interesting fact the moment
his eyes rested on me.

"By all that's fair to look upon!" he cried, jumping
about in a manner human people think eccentric, "are you
astral or actualized ?"

"See for yourself," I said, holding out my hand, which
it took him rather longer than necessary to make sure of.

"Well, what on Earth brings you here? Come down
to paint another planet red ?" he rattled on, believing him-
self amusing.

"Now haven't I as much right to light on Earth as on
any other bit of cosmic dust?" I asked, laughing and for-
getting how much snubbing he requires in the delight of
seeing any one I knew.

Then he insisted that I had a "date" with him. — A date,
as I discovered later, means something nice to eat — and
hinted very broadly that Bloomer need not wait if she
had more important matters to attend to. I must confess
she did not seem at all sorry to have me taken off her
hands, for after cautioning me to beware of a number of
things I did not so much as know by name, she shot off
like a respectable old aerolite with a black trail streaming
out behind. If she remains here much longer she will be

788



HERMAN KNICKERBOCKER VIEl£

coming back upon a mis^on to reform us. As for Tuck,
he became insufferably patronizing at once.

"Well, how do you like the Only Planet ? and how do
you like the Only Town? and how do you like the Only
Street?" he began, waving his hands and looking about
him as though there were anything here that one of us
could admire. But, of course, I refused to gratify him
with my crude impressions. I simply said :

"You appear very well pleased with them yourself."

"And so will you be," he replied, "when you have real-
ized their possibilities. Remark that elderly entity across
the street. I have to but exert my will that he shall sneeze
and drop his eyeglasses, and behold, there they go." —
Yes, my dear, eyeglasses. They are worn on the nose by
people who imagine they can not see very well.

"I consider such actions cruel and unkind," I said, at
the same time willing an embryonic girl to pick the glasses
up, and though the child was rather beyond my normal
circle, I was delighted to see her obey. But I have an idea
Tuck regretted an experiment which taught me something
I might not have found out, at least for a while.

I had now been on Earth several hours, and change of
atmosphere gives one a ravenous appetite. You see, I had
forgotten to ask Ooma how, and how often, humans ate,
so when Tuck suggested breakfast as a form of entertain-
ment I put myself in sympathy with the idea at once. Be-
sides it is most important to know just where to find the
things you want, and you may be sure I made a lot of
mental notes when we came, as presently we did, to a
tower called Astoria. ^

I understand that the upper portions of the edifice are
used for study of the Stars, but we were made welcome on
the lower story by a stately being, who conducted us to
honorable seats in an inner court. There were small trees

789



THE GIRL FROM MERCURY

growing here, green, of course, but rather pretty for all
that; the people, gathered under their shade in little
groups, were much more cheerful and sustaining than any
I had seen so far, and an elemental intelligence detailed
to minister to our wants seemed well-trained and docile.

"Here you have a glimpse of High Life," announced
Tuck, when he had written something on a paper.

"The Higher Life?" I inquired, eagerly, and I did not
like the flippant tone in which he answered :

"No, not quite — just high enough."

I was beginning to be so bored by his conceit and self-
complacency that I cast my eyes about and smiled at sev-
eral pleasant-looking persons, who returned the smile and
nodded in a friendly fashion, till I could perceive Tuck's
aura bristle and turn greenish-brown.

"You can't possibly see any one you know here," he
protested, crossly,

"All the better reason why I should reach out in search
of affinities," I retorted. But after that, though I was
careful to keep my eyes lowered most of the time, I re-
solved to come some day to the Astoria alone and smile
at every one I liked. I don't believe I should ever know
a human if Tuck could have his way.

Presently the elemental brought us delicious things,
and while we ate them Tuck talked about himself. It ap-
pears he has produced an opera here which is a success.
People throng to hear it and consider him a great com-
poser. At all of which, you may believe, I was astonished
— just fancy our Tuk posing as a genius ! — but presently
when he became elated by the theme and hummed a bar
or two, I understood. The wretch had simply actualized
a few essential harmonies — and done it very badly. I see
now why he likes so much being here, and understand
why his associates are almost altogether human. I don't

790



HERMAN KNICKERBOCKER VIELE

remember ever meeting with such deceit and effrontery
before. I was so indigiiant that I could feel my astral
fingers tremble. I could not bear to look at him, and as
by that time I had eaten all I could, I rose and walked
directly from the court without another word. I am sure
he would have pursued me had not the elemental, divin-
ing my wish to escape, detained him forcibly.

Once in the street again, I immediately hypnotized an
old lady, willing her to go direct to Bloomer's Boarding-
House while I followed behind. It may not have been
convenient for her, I am afraid, but I knew of no other
way to get back. — Dear me, the light is growing dim, and
I must be dressing for the evening. Good-by! — By the
way, I forgot to tell you something else that happened —
remind me of it next time !

The Third Record

— Yes, I remember, and you shall hear all about it be-
fore I describe an evening at the Settlement, but it don't
amount to much. — I told you how cross and over-bearing
Tuck was at the Astoria tower, and of the mean way in
which he restricted my observations. Well, of all the
people in the grove that day there was only one whom I
could see without being criticized, and he sat all alone and
facing me, just behind Tuck's back. Some green leaves
hung between us, and whenever I moved my head to note
what he was doing he moved his, too, to look at me. He
seemed so lonely that I was sorry for him, but his atmos-
phere showed him to be neither sullen nor Uranian, and
I could not help it if I was just a little bit responsive. Be-
sides, Tuck, once on the subject of his opera, grew so self-
engrossed and dominant that one had either to assert one's
own mentality or become subjective.

791



THE GIRL FROM MERCURY

— No, dear, that is not the only reason. There may be
such a thing as an isolated reason, but I have never met
one — they always go in packs. I confess to a feeling of
interest in the stranger. Nobody can look at you with
round blue eyes for half an hour steadily without exer-
cising some attraction, either positive or negative, and I
felt, too, that he was trying to tell me something which
would have been a great deal more interesting than Tuck's
opera, and I believe had I remained a little longer we could
have understood each other between the trees just as you
and I can understand each other across the intervals of
space. But then it is so easy to be mistaken. — I had to
pass quite close to him in going out, and I am not sure I
did not drop a rose.

— There may be just a weenie little bit more about the
Astorian, but that will come in its proper place. Now I
must get on to the evening. — It was not much of an occa-
sion, merely the usual gathering of our crowd, or rather
of those of us who have no special assignment for the
time in the large Council Room I have described to you.

The President of the Board of Control at present is
Marlow, Marlow the Great, as he is called, the painter
whose pictures did so much to elevate the Patagonians. —
No, dear, I never heard of Patagonia before, but I'm al-
most sure it's not a planet. — With Marlow came a Mrs.
Mopes, who is engaged in creating schools of fiction by
writing stories under different names and then reviewing
them in her own seven magazines. Next, taking the
guests at random, was Baxter, a deadly person in his hu-
man incarnation, whose business it is to make stocks fly
up or tumble down. — I don't know what stocks are, but
they must be something very easily frightened. — Then
there was a Mr. Waller, nicknamed the Reverend, whom
the Council allows to speak the truth occasionally, while

792



HERMAN KNICKERBOCKER VIEL^

the rest of the time he tells people anything they want to
hear to win their confidence. And the two Miss Dooleys
who sing so badly that thousands who can not sing at all
leave off singing altogether when they once hear them.
And Mr. Flick, who misbehaves at funerals to distract
mourners from their grief, and a Mr. O'Brien, whose duty
it is to fly into violent passions in public places just to
show how unbecoming temper is.

There were many others, so many I can not begin to
enumerate them. Some had written books and were
known all over the planet, and some who were not known
at all had done things because there was nobody else to
do them. And some were singers and some were actors,
and some were rich and some were poor to the outside
world, but in the Council Room they met and laughed
and matched experiences and made jokes; from the one
who had built a battle ship so terrible that all the other
ships were burnt on condition that his should be also, to
the ordinary helpers who applaud stupid plays till intelli-
gent human beings become thoroughly disgusted with
bad art.

In the world, of course, they are all serious enough,
and often know each other only by secret signs, while
every day and night and minute our poor earth-brothers
come a little nearer the light — pushed toward it, pulled
toward it, wheedled and trickled and bullied and coaxed,
and thinking all the while how immensely clever they are,


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