William Shuler Harris.

Life in a Thousand Worlds online

. (page 11 of 13)
Online LibraryWilliam Shuler HarrisLife in a Thousand Worlds → online text (page 11 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


telegraphy is to our world, this mental conversation is to the world of
Mute, and it is possible that we may reach a higher degree of
proficiency in this direction after we become still better acquainted
with the laws of the human mind.

When I think of the many unaccountable heart-thrills that send their
emotions of joy and hatred into our passing life, I am somewhat
persuaded that we speak this tongueless language more than we imagine.
Some day we may learn the secrets that are now so heavily veiled and
thereby put to naught the glory of our present modes of communication.
Until then we will plod along with the telegraph, telephone, wireless
telegraphy and our ever-changing knowledge of telepathic intercourse.

I will give the philosophy of this perfect means of expressing thought
as clearly as I can.

As sound waves are created in our atmosphere by actual vibration, so
are thought waves created on Mute by mental activity focused in any one
point of the brain. Our way of expressing thought by audible words is
not conceivable to these people. If one of their inhabitants were to
visit our Earth, he would be at a loss to account for our movements of
mouth and gestures of body when we are in the act of conversation.

The social life of Mute is marked with many peculiarities. Males and
females seldom ever associate together, and social purity sends its
sweet influences over the whole planet.

A science which is similar to Phrenology plays an important part in all
the social customs of this sphere. It decides the marital destiny of
each person, and no two are recommended to join in wedlock until they
have been pronounced physical and mental mates by the official
psychologists.

On this interesting world I found the most summary punishment for
adulterers and fornicators. When these crimes are clearly proven, the
guilty parties are put to death after a lingering sentence. This is a
most terrible punishment, but it has proven that, although a few must
suffer this penalty, the general good of the whole population is thereby
much increased.

I was much amazed at the construction and possibilities of the human
mind when I observed the manner in which certain suspected criminals
were examined in order to prove or disprove the crime of which they were
charged. The doors of the soul were unlocked and the past
thought-images, with their mental impressions, were thrown open to view.
How can a Muteite deny the crime which is photographed on the sensitive
living plates of his own mind! This reproducing can be effected only by
a very special process and is never done against a person's will unless
ordered by civil authority.

When I saw, on this world of Mute, the possibility of uncovering the
past records of the mind, it at once suggested to me the possible nature
of the final Judgment of our world when each one will stand face to face
with the record of his own deeds, brought before him vividly under the
light of eternity. In such an event who would think of showing a bold
front to deny the accuracy of such a direct reproduction of himself in
the flesh!

Possibly the human mind may be likened to a phonograph into which we can
speak while the cylinder of thought revolves; at any time afterward
every syllable may be reproduced accurately.

Another striking feature of these mortals is their lack of hypocrisy.
Only a small degree of it is found among all the inhabitants of this
peculiar planet. No doubt hypocrisy would be greatly lessened in our own
social life if we could no longer hide our real thoughts. In Mute it is
very unsafe to practice deception, for as soon as the deceived one
appears personally he can readily conjecture, by the mental state of the
deceiver, the nature of the thought that had transpired.

Can you realize what a refreshing moral atmosphere exists in a world
where conventional lying is almost unknown? In our life the daily sin of
the millions is the white, or the blue lie. Think of how many we tell in
our regular routine of life! We generally give false excuses instead of
the real ones. We very seldom blame ourselves for errors, but rather
think diligently to study out a way to shift responsibility. Nearly the
whole brood of our apologies is hatched from the serpent's egg, and then
we ignorantly or hypocritically manifest surprise that our own offspring
should develop an inclination to deceive or misrepresent!

Here I saw, in wide contrast to our own social order, the results
springing from sincerity that has thrived through a long line of
generations. Such blessings are as a breath of Heaven, rare and
beautiful.

One might think, when considering this strange manner of conversation,
that it would be difficult for the people to express their ideas
clearly. It is just the opposite from this, for it is almost impossible
for them to express themselves vaguely. They talk from the headquarters
of one mind directly to the headquarters of another, instead of through
a medium of cumbersome words which in our life are so often
misunderstood. Thus we must admit that we have a ten-fold greater
struggle than they to be perspicuous in language.

I was charmed at this most superior mode of conversation and saw in it
a higher glimpse of the Heaven language than in any other type that had
yet met my observation in all the worlds of space.

The Muteites are rapid thinkers, and although they have no sense of
hearing, yet they are ultra-sensitive to substantial emissions of
vibrating bodies. According to all I could see, these people were not
hampered by this lack of senses. They live as conveniently in their
flesh life as we do, and in their mind or spirit life they are much more
refined than we are.

Their earth is so different from ours in chemical combinations that the
soil is almost transparent and in general has the appearance of glass.
Their homes are built mostly under surface, owing to the terrific
cyclonic storms that follow one another in very uncertain succession.

The average length of life is two hundred of our years. They reach their
maximum energy of mind at about one hundred years, and among the
brighter of the inhabitants can be found a glorious order of intellect.
Some of these mental celebrities outshine the brightest creatures of
all the solar systems of that region of the heavens.

After some hesitancy, I yielded to a desire to appear in a visible form
before an assembled company of Muteite philosophers who were gathered in
one of the under-surface halls of architectural beauty for consultation.

As I entered the vast hall in my natural manner I attracted unusual
attention. It was amusing to see how all eyes were fastened upon me as I
calmly walked toward the front of the audience. Here I had one of the
hardest tasks of all my journey, to converse in a soundless language. I
lacked faith at first to make the attempt, but this delay was but for a
moment, for I first fixed my mind upon what I wished to communicate, and
instantly a dozen or more Muteites signified that they were in sensitive
touch with my thought.

I will give a small portion of the mental telepathic conversation
between myself and my auditors, although I must relate it as if words
were actually spoken, or it would be totally unintelligible to the
people of my own likeness.

"Let no one be alarmed," I hurriedly addressed them, as a thousand
giant forms were trembling at my appearance. "My mission is one of
peace. I have come to help rather than harm," I continued.

"From what section of our world have you come?" came a hundred thought
flashes in wild confusion.

"I am not from your world, but from another," I answered with closed
mouth as best I could.

Then I learned an important feature of this mind language. A hundred or
more interrogations came flying at me in thick confusion. At once the
chairman or leader of the meeting gave restrictive orders which actually
prohibited my audience from further communication with me, although I
might address them. The chairman bid me commune with him and he
thereafter acted as the spokesman of the whole assembly. It was no more
difficult for these philosophers to keep their minds closed to me than
it is for us to keep our mouths closed in an excitable meeting or
debate.

The chairman, looking with increasing curiosity at my strangely shaped
face and head, interrogated me thus:

"Are you an angel of light, or one of darkness?"

"I am neither."

"What then can you be?"

"I am a created being from a far-off region of space. I was born on a
world which revolves around a star untold millions of miles distant."

"If you are not a spirit, how could you have traveled such incredible
distances?"

"That is yet a mystery to me," I admitted. "The power of my flight is
much like the mode of your communication, for each is alike mysterious
to me."

By this time the excitement was intense. No one attempted to grasp me or
even approach toward me. I saw by the perplexing mental atmosphere of
the chairman that he was being besieged by a host of questions and
suggestions; so I relieved the situation by continuing my words:

"No one need consider my appearance as an evil omen. I am not empowered
to curse or bless your world except by what may flow from my immediate
conversation with you."

In these sentences I thoughtlessly gestured with my arms; this set my
audience wild with mingled merriment and curiosity.

"Are all as small as you whence you came?" queried the chairman.

"They are all after my pattern with some variations."

"Pray, tell me, what are those gummy flabs at the sides of your head?"

"Those are my ears," I said with grinning face. "They grew there for a
purpose."

"And what can that purpose be?" further questioned the puzzled chairman.

"They are for the purpose of hearing," I quickly replied.

Then followed a curious scientific dialogue in which I endeavored to
explain the sense of hearing. From this I described the manner of
conversation in our world, and showed what an important part hearing
played. But all this was beyond the comprehension of my auditors.

After a lengthy and most interesting discussion upon the philosophy of
sound, the next point of interest centered on my mouth and vocal
organs. It was pleasing to consider these subjects because my listeners
were such eager questioners and surprised hearers. No wonder that they
were unable to grasp such a crude system of conversation as ours!

Then the chairman verily begged me to explain the mystery of my mission
and of my unprecedented itinerary. How could I have fully satisfied his
mind, even if I had endeavored to do so!

After all this came the most pleasing communion thus far of all my
journey. I learned much by the interchange of ideas. Nature's vast book
opened to me some new and charming pages.

Toward the close of my stay the affinity between us grew to a marked
degree. Although we were widely apart in physical aspect, yet we were
supping from the same bowl of affection and, with this happy turn, we
talked of our permanent companionship.

"But I cannot abide with you," I reluctantly answered.

"Ah, torment us not with such a thought," affectingly pressed the
chairman.

"I have other worlds to visit, and must hasten away. Touch me not," I
cried as the chairman unconsciously moved toward me in an urgent appeal.

"How soon shall we see you again?"

"No more forever, unless you see me in that widest expanse of life which
in our world we call Heaven. There the pure of all worlds will gather
and commingle in delightsome fellowship forever."

I was then urged beyond all etiquette to tarry a short period and visit
certain parts of their world. But I informed them that I had seen more
of their world than they imagined, and that the object of my visit had
been reached.




CHAPTER XX.

Brief.


One of the medium sized worlds that revolve around Alcyone sustains the
shortest lived human beings of our universe. It is seldom that any of
the creatures reach more than four years of age according to our
standards of time. They are nearly as large as we and relatively much
lighter in weight. All the periods of physical growth are
correspondingly decreased. Children walk four or five weeks after birth,
and are capable of receiving regular instruction at the age of five
months.

Strange as it may seem, this sphere, which for convenience we will call
Brief, revolves very slowly on its axis, so that our world makes fifteen
times as many revolutions as this planet.

It requires but little arithmetic to figure out that the people of Brief
do not see the sun rise very often. When it does appear in the morning
sky, all the public signals blow and the people appear in one or
another of their places of worship. This beautiful custom has been in
practice for over three thousand years. The worship is not sun worship,
but a genuine service of thanksgiving to Him who ruleth over the sun and
supplies it with fuel to burn. It appears that on all worlds everything
is regulated in accordance with the length of human life. On this world,
of Brief all vegetables mature in periods so short that one marvels when
he hears it. Think of cereals reaching maturity in seven or eight of our
days, or during one day of Brief. Early in the morning certain crops are
planted and are harvested at night. Two or more days are required for
maturing other crops. Actually the people of Brief raise their crops
with less labor than is required amongst us.

If you were permitted to look upon the public and private life of this
incredible world, your first sensation would be dizziness, not to
mention the weirdness of all sights that would confront you at every
turn. People would seem to be in a mad rush, and it would appear that
all business is done with insane rapidity.

Furrows of care and trouble begin to deepen on the faces of these
Briefites as they approach an age of what we would call three years, and
if by lease of strength they pass on toward an age of four years, it is
but an evidence of their exceptional vitality. It seems to be true that
the experiences of a long life of sixty or eighty years is crowded into
a narrow compass of four years by a miracle of spheres not comprehended
by finite minds.

No doubt a detailed description of this whirling and dashing life would
be of interest to us slow, deliberate creatures. But I can give only a
passing glimpse.


JOURNALISM.

Things happen in such quick succession that the news is hustled out at
all hours of the day and night; not on sheets of paper, but through
automatic news-receivers, machines somewhat akin to our telegraph
instruments.

The state supplies each home with an automatic news-receiver. Thus a
record is kept in each home of all messages received so that they can
be read at leisure. To speak in a manner more easily understood, I will
say that the news is telegraphed to each home as soon as possible after
the events transpire. But compared to our customs, the news is very
scarce. There being no competition, no time or space is required for
sensational trash. Thus, if nothing of importance occurs, nothing need
be transmitted. The official news-censors decide as to the relative
importance of occurrences. There need not be a certain amount of news
telegraphed each hour. The government verifies, as much as possible, all
reports before they are transmitted. There are indeed some advantages in
the government being in constant touch with each home under its care.
The advertising department pays nearly all expenses of this whole system
of journalism. Announcements for private gain are paid at a regular
rate. It costs more to advertise at certain periods than at other times,
all regulated by the customs of the people.

Under these regulations everybody receives the news, and only the
essential news, except advertisements which must come in batches at
certain intervals. Of course, people take their choice as to reading
advertisements.

[Illustration: Sunrise Signal in Brief.]


THEIR FOOTWEAR.

The soles of the feet of these Briefites are composed of a substance
most nearly resembling hoof material. They never think of covering the
feet under any change of climate. If one of the Briefites were to step
upon the shores of our rugged Earth and see the cotton or wool and
leather that lies around our feet, it would appear to him as the most
ridiculous thing imaginable, and no doubt his shapely feet of ivory cast
would be of more than passing interest to us.


THEIR RAIMENT.

Their raiment is altogether after new models. Neither the men, women,
nor children seem to seek this means for self-beautifying. They seem to
think that beauty of character has a radiance more to be desired than
the flash of opals or the luster of silks. Their garments partake of the
loose flowing order. For instance, a strong fabric of chosen shade is
fastened at the neck, hip, knee and ankle, and lies carelessly over the
parts between. The females never graduated to the corset degree, and
while they do not cut a scientific figure, yet they surely develop a
more ruddy waist after the model intended by the Designor of the body.


TRANSPORTATION.

The methods of traveling are so contrary to our conceptions and
practices that I almost forbear to attempt any description. Yet I was
entertained and instructed as I witnessed the moving of humanity along a
street of a busy city. Have you ever noticed how quarters of beef are
carried from a car to an elevator or refrigerator on steel rods
connected with wheels running in a groove or on a specially prepared
track? In a city of Brief, overhead tracks after such an order run along
all business streets and certain residence streets. Spare me a detailed
description of this peculiar traveling system. Suffice it to say that a
person, in lightning rapidity of motion, rushes from a store, springs
upon a passing seat and is hurled away by the power of an overhead
cable system. When an exchange of seats is necessary, it is all done so
easily and so quickly that you would wonder why we tolerate trolley
cars.

In traveling from city to city, a system is in use that I will call the
Toboggan Slide System, although the cars run on wheels. The car is
raised in a shaft about one hundred feet and then by gravity it dashes
two or more miles according to the lay of the land traversed. Then
another rise more or less than one hundred feet is experienced, and then
another wild dash. I have no words of praise for this system, although
the Briefites can cover considerable territory in an hour. They look
upon this gravity system as a wonderful achievement, for it has not been
in operation for more than three hundred years.

The power of steam has never been utilized. No genius of all this active
world of Brief ever conceived the idea that almost unlimited power lies
wrapped up in thin vapory water. But they have discovered what we would
call gaseous oil, and have learned to put it to work, so that it is the
main force employed in hoisting and all other purposes where power is
required.

Nothing like a traveling locomotive has ever been made, although I
learned that a bright wizard was experimenting and that he prophesied
great changes when his gas-propelled vehicle was perfected.

Think of how much value an ordinary citizen of our world would be to
these Briefites, if he could step upon their world and communicate with
them concerning the magic wonders of steam and the manner of
constructing stationary and movable engines, to say nothing of the
hidden wonders of electricity. Quadrupeds that take the place of our
horses are used for drayage, although nothing except the two-wheeled
class of vehicles was ever used until some eighty-seven years ago.


PUBLIC HIGHWAYS.

These interesting people excel us in their style and manner of
home-building, fencing and making public highways. We are heathenish in
our progress along the line of road making especially. In all my vast
journey among the worlds I found only a few, comparatively, whereon the
roads were inferior to ours.

In the world of Brief the state prescribes the manner of public highways
and each citizen must contribute his share to their creation and
maintenance.

These Briefites excel us in more than a score of ways. They are much
purer in morals, more refined in manner, more harmonious in government,
and unusually bright in mathematics. Very intricate and elaborate
problems are solved by these people of a few years. They are inferior to
us in a hundred ways. In the broad fields of manufacture and invention
they lag a long distance in the rear. This is principally due to their
lack of time.


RELIGIOUS LIFE.

The religious life of the people of Brief is, on an average, of a higher
type than is found in our world. Their belief in immortality has run
parallel with their existence as a people, and their devotion to their
Creator is marked with unusual fervor.

Their Redeemer is worshiped quite separately from God, and with
distinctive adorations. The name of their Redeemer, phonetically
rendered, is Kerm-Cher. The most faithful translation of this word into
our language would be God-affluence.

Kerm-Cher, or God-breath, appeared upon Brief full grown, and pronounced
his benediction on the race, declaring his origin, and the purpose of
his coming. Similar to Christ, he confirmed his identity by unanswerable
miracles.

Many, however, disbelieved in Kerm-Cher, and held to the old axiomatic
truths. Thus creeds were prevalent and they remain until now, only there
is much less variety than is found amongst us.

Kerm-Cher set up a new reign, and accepted a temporal throne for a
season. He finally announced that his ambassadorship would soon cease
and that his followers would lose the throne of civil power, that they
would be tested for a season in the valley of humiliation and by the
fires of terrible persecution, and that they who would endure unto the
end would be glorified.

These religious features are remarkably similar to the system under
which the Christian religion of our globe is fostered.




CHAPTER XXI.

The Life on Wings.


As I darted from world to world, I was not then fully conscious of the
vast stretches of space that I had covered. No mortal nor angel tongue
can even commence to describe the vastness of created things and the
trackless oceans of space in which the ponderous suns and planets
revolve.

According to the classification of our astronomers I next found myself
in the constellation of Perseus, and was again convinced of the weakness
of our most powerful telescopes, for I now saw thousands of immense
stars, hitherto invisible to me. Not one of these stars is within a
trillion miles of any other.

In this distant system of our universe I saw that the same plan of
creation obtained. Around a majority of the stars a group of various
sized worlds revolves. On many of these worlds human life abounds in
endless degrees of development and in a countless variety of
manifestations. I marveled anew as I saw the endlessness of the Infinite
Mind, supporting not only the conscious life of this whole
constellation, but also of all the constellations of our universe, and
of all the universes scattered at large throughout the unending depths
of space.

I paused at a star of variable magnitude in the Milky Way, but took only
a passing glance at the physical wonders of this great sun, compared
with which our own Sun is a mere pigmy. Onward I hastened to one of the
larger worlds of this solar system which, for my convenience, I will
call Swift.

Here new wonders opened wide to my view. Human beings, charmingly
beautiful, moved over the face of the planet or on wings through the air
at pleasure and with great ease. These creatures are about three-fourths
of our size, and are most gracefully formed. Their whole physical
appearance is more similar to a bird than to a human being of our Earth.
They are relatively much lighter than we, and are covered with nothing
akin to feathers.

If you were to see them standing in their erect posture and walking
with man-like dignity, you would at once feel that they are the lords of
the creation on their world, and so indeed they are.

These ethereal creatures have the loveliest eyes of any human beings I
ever beheld in any world. They sparkle with the brilliancy of a diamond
and move with the quickness of electricity. The head is small but
symmetrical and all physical proportions are most harmoniously adapted
even to a nicety that would be pleasing to the most refined tastes of
our world.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13

Online LibraryWilliam Shuler HarrisLife in a Thousand Worlds → online text (page 11 of 13)