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and what a wonderful progressive, glorious age they have
brought about for themselves. — At all events, this is the
rather vague composite impression I have received of the
plans and purposes of the Board of Directors, and doubt-
less it is wrong.

I suppose with a little trouble I might have recognized
nearly every one, but the fancy took me to suspend in-

793



THE GIRL FROM MERCURY

tuition just to see how Earth girls feel, and you know
when one is hearing a lot of pleasant things one does not
much care who happens to be saying them,

I fancy Marlow thought less of me when I confessed
that I am here only for the lark, and really do not care a
meteor whether the planet is ever elevated or not. But
he is a charming old fellow all the same, and the only
one of the lot who has not grown the least bit smudgy.

Marlow announced that the evening would be spent in
harmony with the vibrations of Orion, and set us all at
work to get in touch, I love Orion light myself, for none
other suits my aura quite so well, and I was glad to find
they had not taken up the Vega fad. — The light here?
My dear, it is not even filtered. — Some of us, no doubt
for want of practice, were rather slow about perfecting,
but finally we all caught on, and when O'Brien, no longer
fat and florid, and the elder Miss Dooley, no longer
scrawny, moved out to start the dance, there was only one
who had not assumed an astral personality. Poor fellow,
though I pitied him, I did admire his spunk in holding
back. It seems that as an editor he took to telling false-
hoods on his own account so often that the Syndicate is
packing him off as Special Correspondent to a tailless
comet.

Tuck never came at all ; either he realizes how honest
people must regard him and his opera, or else the elemen-
tal at the Astoria are still detaining him.

We had a lovely dance, and while we rested Marlow
called on some of us for specialties. Mrs, Mopes did a
paragraph by a man named Henry James, translated into
action, which seemed quite difficult, and then a person
called Parker externalized a violin and gave the Laocoon
in terms of sound. To me his rendering of marble re-
sembled terra-cotta until I learned that the copy of the

794



HERMAN KNICKERBOCKER VIELE

statue here is awfully weatherstained. After this three
pretty girls gave the Aurora Borealis by telepathic sug-
gestion rather well, and then I sang "Love Lives Every-
where" — just plain so.

— I know this must all sound dreadfully flat to you,
quite like "Pastimes for the Rainy Season in Neptune,"
but Bloomer says she doesn't know what would happen if
we should ever give a really characteristic jolly party.

We wound up with an Earth dance called the Virginia
Reel, the quickest means you ever saw for descending to
a lower psychic plane. That's all I have to tell, and quite
enough, I'm sure you'll think. — What ? The Astorian ? I
have not seen him since. — But there is a little more, a very
little, if you are not tired, — This morning I received a gift
of roses, just like the one I dropped yesterday, brought
me by the same small embryonic I had seen in the flower
shop. I asked the child in whose intelligence the impulse
had originated, and he replied :

"A blue-eyed feller with a mustache, but he gave me a
plunk not to tell."

I understood a plunk to be a token of confidence, and I
at once expressed displeasure at the boy's betrayal of his
trust. I told him such an act would make dark lines upon
his aura which might not fade for several days.

"Say, ain't you got some message to send back?" he
asked.

"Boy !" said I, "don't forget your little aura."

"All right," he answered, "I'll tell him 'Don't forget
your little aura.' I'll bet he coughs up another plunk."

I don't know what he meant, but I am very much
afraid there may be some mistake. — Oh, yes, I am quite
sure to be back in time for the Solstice. — Or at least for
the Eclipse.



795



THE GIRL FROM MERCURY

The Fourth Record

(Note : Between this logogram and the last the Long's
Peak Receptive Pulsator was unfortunately not in opera-
tion for the space of a fortnight, as the electrician ivho
took the instrument apart for adjustment found it neces-
sary to return to Denver for oil.)

— Yes, dear, it's me, though if I did not know person-
ality to be indestructible I should begin to have my doubts.
I have not made any more mistakes, that is, not any bad
ones, since I went to the Astoria alone for lunch, and the
elementals were so very disagreeable just because I had
no money. I know all about money now, except exactly
how you get it, and Tuck assures me that is really of no
importance. I never told Ooma how the blue-eyed As-
torian paid my bill for me, and her perceptive faculties
have grown too dull to apprehend a thing she is not told.
Fresh roses still come regularly every day, and of course
I can do no less than express my gratitude now and then.
— Oh, I don't know how often, I don't remember. — But
it is ever so much pleasanter to have some one you like to
show you the way about than to depend on hypnotizing
strangers, who may have something else to do.

— I told you last week about the picnic, did I not ? The
day, I mean, when Bloomer took me into the country, and
Tuck so far forgave my rudeness to him as to come with
us to carry the basket. — Oh, yes, indeed, I am becoming
thoroughly domesticated on Earth. And, my dear, these
humans are docility itself when you once acquire the
knack of making them do exactly as you wish, which is as
easy as falling off a log. — A log is the external evidence
of a pre-existent tree, cylindrical in form, and though
often sticky, not sufficiently so to be adhesive.

— ^That picnic was so pleasant — or would have been but

796



HERMAN KNICKERBOCKER VIELE

for Bloomer's anxiety that I should behave myself, and
Tuck's anxiety that I should not — that I determined to
have another all by myself — and I have had it.

I traveled to the same little dell I described before, and
I put my feet in the water just as I wasn't allowed to do
the other day. And I built a fire and almost cooked an
egg and ate cake (an egg is the bud of a bird, and cake is
edible poetry) sitting on a fence. — Fences grow horizon-
tally and have no leaves. — Don't ask so many questions !

After a while, however, I became tired of being alone,
so I started off across some beautiful green meadows to-
ward a hillside, where I had observed a human walking
about and waving a forked wand. He proved the strang-
est-looking being I have met with yet, more like those
wild and woolly space-dwellers who tumbled out when
that tramp comet bumped against our second moon. But
he was a considerate person, for when he saw me coming
and divined that I should be tired, he piled up a quantity
of delicious-scented herbage for me to sit on.

"Good morning, mister," I said, plumping myself down
upon the mound he had made, and he, being much more
impressionable than you would suppose from his Uranian
appearance, replied :

"I swan, I like your cheek."

"It's a pleasant day," I said, because one is always ex-
pected to announce some result of observation of the at-
mosphere. It shows at once whether or not one is an idiot.

"I call it pretty danged hot," he returned, intelligently.

"Then why don't you get out of the sun ?" I suggested,
more to keep the conversation fluid than because I cared
a bit.

"I'm a-goin' to," he answered, "just as soon as that
goll-darned wagon comes." (A "goll-darned" wagon is, I
think, a wagon without springs.)

797



THE GIRL FROM MERCURY

"What are you going to do then ?" I asked, beginning
to fear I should be left alone again after all my trouble.

"Goin' home to dinner," he replied, and I at once said
I would go with him. — You see, I had placed a little too
much reliance on the egg.

"I dunno about that, but I guess it will be all right,"
he urged, hospitably, and presently the goll-darned wagon
arrived with another man, who turned out to be the first
one's son and who looked as though he bit.

Together the two threw all the herbage into the wagon
till it was heaped far above their heads.

"How am I ever to get up?" I asked, for I had no idea
of walking any farther, and I could see the man's white
house ever so far away.

"Who said you was goin' to get up at all ?" inquired
the biter, disagreeably, but the other answered for me.

"I said it, that's who, you consarned jay," he an-
nounced, reprovingly.

When I had made them both climb up first and give me
each a hand, I had no difficulty at all in mounting, but I
was very careful not to thank the Jay, which seemed to
make him more morose than ever. Then they slid down
again, and off we started.

Once when we came to some lovely blue flowers grow-
ing in water near the roadside I told the Jay to stop and
wade in and pick them for me.

"I'll be dogged if I do," he answered ; so I said :

"I don't know what being 'dogged' means, but if it is
a reward for being nice and kind and polite, I hope you
will be."

Whereupon he bit at me once and waded in, while the
other man, whose name, it seems, was Pop, sat down upon
a stone and laughed.

"Gosh ! If this don't beat the cats," he said, slapping

798



HERMAN KNICKERBOCKER VIELE

his knee, which was his way pf making himself laugh
harder.

I put the flowers in my hair and in my belt and wher-
ever I could stick them. But there was still a lot left over,
and whenever Ave met people I threw them some, which
appeared to please Pop, but made the Jay still more bite-y.

Presently we came to a very narrow place and there, as
luck would have it, we met an automobile. — Thank good-
ness, I need not explain automobile. — And who should be
at the lever all alone but — the Astorian.

I recognized him instantly, and he recognized me,
which was, I suppose, his reason for forgetting to stop
till he had nearly run us down. In a moment we were in
the wildest tangle, though nothing need have happened
had not the Jay completely lost his temper.

"Hang your picture!" he called out, savagely, "What
do you want ? — The Earth ?"

And with that he struck the animals — the wagon was
not self-propelling — a violent blow, and they sprang for-
ward with a lurch which made the hay begin to slip. I
tried to save myself, but there was nothing to catch hold
of, so off I slid and' — oh, my dear, my dear, just fancy it !
— I landed directly in his lap. — No, not the Jay's. — Of
course, I stayed there as short a time as possible, for he
was very nice about moving up to make room for me on
the seat, but I am afraid it did seem frightfully informal
just at first.

"It was all the fault of that consarned Jay," I ex-
plained, as soon as I had recovered my composure, "and
I shall never ride in his goll-darned wagon again."

"I sincerely hope you will not," replied Astoria, look-
ing at me with the most curious expression. "It would be
much better to let me take you wherever you wish to go."

"That's awfully kind of you," I said, "but I don't care

799



THE GIRL FROM MERCURY

to go anywhere in particular this afternoon, except as far
as possible from that objectionable young man."

The Astorian did not speak again till he had turned
something in the machine to make it back and jerk, and,
once free from the upset hay, go on again.

"Say, Sissy, I thought you was comin' to take dinner,"
Pop called out from under the wagon, where he had
crawled for safety, and when I replied as nicely as I could,
"No, thank you, not to-day," he said again, quite sadly as
I thought, "Gosh blim me, if that don't beat the cats !" and
also several other things I could not hear because we were
moving away so rapidly.

When we had gone about a hundred miles — or yards,
or inches, whichever it was — the Astorian, who had been
sitting very straight, inquired if those gentlemen — mean-
ing Pop and Jay — were near relatives.

I showed him plainly that I thought his question
Uranian, and explained that I had not a relative on Earth.
Then I told him exactly how I had come to be with them,
and about my picnic and the Qgg. I am afraid I did not
take great pains to make the story very clear, for it was
such fun to perplex him. He is not at all like the Venus
people, who have become so superlatively clever that they
are always bored to death.

"Were you surprised to see me flying through the air ?"
I asked.

"Oh, no," he said; "I have always thought of you as
coming to Earth in some such way from some far-distant
planet."

"Oh, then, you know !" I gasped.

The Astorian laughed.

"I know you are the one perfect being in the world, and
that is quite enough," he said, and I saw at once that
whatever he had guessed about me he knew nothing at all
of tlie Settlement.

800



HERMAN KNICKERBOCKER VIELE

"Miss Aura," he went on, — he has called mc that ever
since that little embryonic made his stupid blunder, and I
have not corrected him — here it is almost necessary to
have some sort of a name — "Miss Aura, don't you think
we have been mere acquaintances long enough ? I'm only
human — "

"Yes, of course," I interrupted, "but then that is not
your fault — "

"I'm glad you look upon my misfortune so charitably,"
he said, a trifle more puzzled than usual, as I fancied.

"It is my duty," I replied. "I want to elevate you; to
brighten your existence."

"My Aura!" he whispered; and I was not quite sure
whether he meant me or not.

We were moving rapidly along the broad road beside
a river. There were hills in the distance and the air from
them was in the key of the Pleiades. There were gardens
everywhere full of sunlight translated into flowers, and
without an effort one divined the harmony of growing
things. I felt that something was about to happen; I
knew it, but I did not care to ask what it might be. Per-
haps if I had tried I could not have known; perhaps for
that hour I was only an Earth girl and could only know
things as they know them, but I did not care.

We were going faster, faster every moment.

"Was it you who willed me to come out into the coun-
try ?" I asked. "Have you been watching for me and ex-
pecting me?"

We were moving now as clouds that rush across a
moon.

"I think I have been watching for you all my life and
willing you to come," he said, which shows how dread-
fully unjust we sometimes are to humans.

"While I was on another planet ?" I inquired. "While

8oi



THE GIRL FROM MERCURY

we were millions and millions of miles apart? Suppose
that I had never come to Earth ?"

We were moving like the falling stars one journeys to
the Dark Hemisphere to see.

"I should have found you all the same," he whispered,
half laughing, but his blue eyes glistened. "I do not think
that space itself could separate us."

"Oh, do you realize that ?" I asked, "and do you really
know?"

"I know I have you with me now," he said, "and that
is all I care to know."

We were flying now, flying as comets fly to perihelion.
The world about was slipping from us, disintegrating
and dissolving into cosmic thoughts expressed in color.
Only his eyes were actual, and the blue hills far away, and
the wind from them in the key of the Pleiades.

"There shall never any more be time or space for us,"
he said.

"But," I protested, "we must not overlook the funda-
mental facts."

"In all the universe there is just one fact," he cried,
catching my hand in his, and then —

(Note: Here a portion of the logogram becomes in-
decipherable, owing, perhaps, to the passage of some large
bird across the line of projection. What follows is the
last recorded vibragraph to date. )

— Yes, dear, I know I should have been more circum-
spect. I should have remembered my position, but I
didn't. And that's why I'm engaged to be married. — You
have to here, when you reach a certain point — I know
you will think it a great come-down for one of us, but
after all do we not owe something to our sister planets ? —



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Online LibraryKate Milner RabbThe wit and humor of America (Volume 2) → online text (page 24 of 24)