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roof. This, upon hardening, is proof against all conditions of weather
and never needs replacing.

There are many striking features in their architecture. In general, it
may be said that they are quite far advanced in constructive ability.
Some of their larger buildings look like soldiers' forts, others
resemble immense bee hives, while still others appear like odd-shaped

We are their superiors in almost every line, especially in our knowledge
and use of electricity and photography, and also in our manufacturing
and scientific skill. However, they have decidedly surpassed us in
imitative and creative art.

Their paintings express so accurately the emotions of the heart that I
found myself in tears as I saw their masterpieces. For a time I forgot
that I was on the Moon, so lost was I in elevated reflections all
suggested by their art creations. How I wished that I could have taken
some of these specimens with me!

From the Moon our Earth looks like a large wagon-wheel hanging in the
heavens. It is amusing to learn of the various opinions and
superstitions that are held regarding this wagon-wheel world. Some of
the Moonites declare that it is a huge lantern, hung solely for their
benefit, and scoff at the idea that it might be a world inhabited by
civilized beings. More intelligent Moonites venture the theory that
human life could exist on the great wagon-wheel, but declare that this
is quite improbable, as the whole planet is enveloped by some thick,
smoky substance in which they believe it would be impossible for human
life to exist. Some look upon the Earth as the mother of the Moon, and
regard the Sun as the father. This sex idea runs through most of their
heathen religion, and there are more who worship the Earth and the Sun
than there are who worship the God who created these heavenly bodies.

I prolonged my investigations without becoming visible, taking note of
numberless facts of interest which will ever be a source of pleasure and
value to me. At length, however, I concluded to take advantage of a
privilege and power I possessed and, becoming visible, I entered a quiet
room in the presence of a very distinguished man. He was by far the most
highly educated person on the Moon.

I was more surprised than he, for I expected that he would be greatly
agitated at my unaccountable appearance. Imagine my surprise when he sat
motionless, gazing firmly into my face which to him was out of harmony
with all ideas of correct form.

I was the first to speak, and although he had manifested outwardly such
self possession, I soon learned that it was a mere show of stoicism in
the presence of one whom he thought to be a spirit. In an incredibly
short time we were on easy speaking terms and I was gaining the object
of my visit.

Among the many things of interest that I learned from this famous
character were facts concerning the history of the Moon. According to
the information he gave me, I figured that human life had existed on the
Moon thousands of years before its appearance on the Earth.
Scientifically I could not account for this on any other ground than
that the Moon, being a much smaller orb, cooled off sufficiently to
sustain life on its surface long before any form of life could exist on
our Earth.

The Moonities of the old era were a prosperous and progressive people,
far outshining their successors who now occupy the sphere. After making
history for several thousand years, the human race had grown to one
hundred million in numbers, and civilization had reached a surprising
degree of perfection.

In those long-ago ages the Moon was a much more fertile garden than now.
Luxury and refinement were enjoyed by the favored sons of that period,
and no one dreamed of the horrible fate that was to sweep practically
the whole race into the regions of death. My intelligent informer used
excessive language in trying to picture the unequaled catastrophe that
put an end to the old era.

My interest was unbounded, and with awed breath I continued listening as
he described the cause of this great and terrible cataclysm.

"It all occurred about five thousand years ago," he said. "The Moon was
shaken by subterraneous rumblings, followed by fiery ejections, covering
a period of nearly one and one-half wagon-wheel revolutions. Whole
cities were ruined, fertile valleys covered and human life was almost

I knew what my informant meant by "one and one-half wagon-wheel
revolutions." This would be a period of about forty days and nights of
earthly time. Do you wonder that my mind flew back to the forty days and
nights of rain that destroyed, at one time, on our Earth, the whole
human family, except the few who were saved in the ark?

"What are the evidences of this horrible world-ending?" I asked.

"They are on every hand. Have you not yet seen the vast craters, the
mountains of barren cinder, the stumps of immense pillars, partly
excavated? All this, and very much more, silently unfolds a tale of
horror that can be faintly pictured only by the imagination. Think of a
holocaust so terrible that one hundred million human creatures are
thereby swept into death in the narrow compass of forty days! The
records that have been brought down to us by the few survivors indicate
the continual wails of horror rending the sky while the volcanic
disturbances continued. Thousands and millions ran from place to place
to find shelter from the storm of fire. At one place the surface would
open and at another the lava would run. Fate, with a merciless hand,
was dragging each one into one or another of the inevitable pits."

"How many were saved?" I asked with deepening interest.

"Parts of only eight families aggregating nineteen human beings."

"And how many people are on the Moon now?"

"Almost forty million."

"How do you account for this slow growth?" I asked after I had explained
that on our globe a much larger number of inhabitants sprang from a
smaller number than nineteen in a shorter period of time.

This allusion cost me much explanation, and, after I had selfishly
brushed his rising questions aside, I learned that large companies of
the Moonites had been swept into death by frequent volcanic outbursts
all along the line of the centuries.

No one can estimate my interest as I continued the conversation. But
finally I decided to stroll through certain parts of the city and,
thinking it advisable to give no notice of my departure, I suddenly
vanished from his sight. However, before leaving the room, I observed
that my bewildered auditor conjectured for a long time and reached his
former conclusion that he had been in touch with an apparition.

Again I resumed my visible form and walked along one of the principal
streets of the city. What novel sights greeted my eyes on every side!
One cannot well imagine what excitement I aroused. Citizens who first
saw me lifted their flabby arms in terror and ran to the city Bizen, a
place where every inhabitant, under oath, is obliged to carry special
news before communicating it elsewhere.

[Illustration: Visiting a City on the Moon.]

In a very short time the city Plins, or in our language, city
authorities, were coming toward me in their costly vehicles. They were
preceded, however, by what we would call a body guard. Imagine their
surprise to hear me shout at the top of my voice, which sounded to them
as thunder would to us: "You need not fear, I will do you no harm!"

My voice had a magical effect on the assembling host of pigmies. They
looked at me with as much curiosity as I looked at them. I stepped over
their heads but was careful not to trample on the children who scampered
at my approach. If one could ship a car load of these children to the
Earth, they would make excellent dolls, for they range in size from only
six to ten inches. Finally, I sat on the roof of one of their lower
buildings to watch the gathering of the multitudes and study their
curious countenances.

Some of the more educated, seeing that I was peacefully inclined,
ventured close to my knees and then looked the more intently into my
face, all of which was agreeable, as it enabled me to get a still closer
view of their faces.

I saw that the whole city was turning out, and I wondered how the alarm
could have been given so speedily. Upon inquiry, a fine artist at my
side tremblingly explained that the Bizen wires had been touched for
block six. This meant that every house in the city had received notice
of an unusual occurrence in that section. I resolved to learn more of
this system and how it was operated without the aid of electricity.

Now I was besieged by a pressing host. At once I commenced to speak in
Moon dialect. I told them whence I came, pointing to the large
wagon-wheel that hung in their heavens. After a short discourse, I
invited questions.

One of their leaders stepped nearer to me and acted as the spokesman of
the crowd. His language and voice were of excellent quality and although
visibly agitated, he bore himself with commendable dignity. Let me here
translate our conversation into English.

"How came you here?" asked he.

"That I cannot explain."

"Did you walk or run?"

"I did neither."

Surrendering this line of inquiry, he went on to ask the following

"Are there more creatures than you where you came from?"

"Large cities full of them."

"Are they smaller than you?"

"Their average height equals mine."

"It must be a ponderous world of immense giants beyond the
comprehension of any inhabitant of our whole globe."

"But just as I appear large to you, you appear unnaturally small to me,"
I calmly added.

"How came that lump in the middle of your face?"

I knew the questioner referred to my nose. I took a good wholesome
laugh, and the large concourse of people watched my wrinkling face with
strange delight. The Moonites express all their emotions by exclamations
and almost infinite variations of the lower lip in conjunction with
their three eyes.

I told the spokesman that the lump on my face was called "nose," using
our pronunciation, and that it grew there by nature and not by accident.
I also informed him that each person in our world had such a nose, at
which much merriment ensued. Lips twitched and quivered, as their eyes
blinked and rolled. It seemed to me like a hideous way to laugh, but no
doubt my nose seemed just as hideous to them.

Then I explained all about our dense atmosphere, the part that air
played in our life, and what a fine convenience the nose is during
eating and speaking. Of course all this was unintelligible to them.

I then busied myself in ascertaining the secret of their signal system.
I learned, much to my surprise, that with scarcely any knowledge of
electricity the Moonites had long ago discovered a means of
communication which is somewhat similar to our wireless telegraphy. From
central stations messages are transmitted to sensitive metal rods set up
on each house-top, somewhat like the lightning rods that decorate
house-tops on my own Earth. I also learned that a very thin atmosphere
is prevalent on the Moon, and that this rare medium is more suited to
their wireless telegraphy than our heavier atmosphere would be with its
different composition.

I soon learned that great excitement was prevailing throughout the
adjacent villages. Wireless telegraphy carried the news, and from all
directions throngs were pressing toward the city. Furthermore I saw that
the noted personage with whom I had spent a quiet season was now making
his way toward me. Not wishing to hold further conversation with him,
and desiring to escape the ever-rising tide of curious questioners, I
once more became invisible and proceeded to study the physical phenomena
of the Moon.

I now saw that everything bore evidence to the fearful havoc of volcanic
eruptions that had laid waste so large a portion of the Moon's surface.
The people live in the remaining fertile belts and patches of land which
are fortunately scattered in rich profusion over the greater portion of
the surface, reminding one of productive oases in the deserts of our

Here and there, in stately museums, are stored the relics of the old
glorious civilization. At a few of these places I tarried to study the
achievements of a people who flourished five thousand years ago, at a
time when the civilization of our world was yet young. What an interest
lay wrapped up in the time-worn relics! Naturally I thought of Pompeii
as I was viewing the antique treasures that had been brought to light
from their old graves of ashes, cinder and lava. In some of these
specimens I saw glimpses of inventions that have never been reproduced
on the Moon and never known on our Earth.

Onward I moved to take my last views of the Moon. For ragged and jagged
cliffs of almost total barrenness, and yawning chasms lined with
intolerable precipices, the Moon outrivals the Earth. I took a passing
glimpse of the famous crater-mountains, called by our astronomers
Copernicus and Theophilus, the former situated in the eastern and the
latter in the western hemisphere of the Moon. The largest openings of
our Earth dwindle into insignificance compared with such stupendous
marvels of natural scenery.

Many similar places I visited, but I spent my last hours on the Moon in
the presence of that gigantic chasm called Newton, where I was thrilled
with feelings of sublimity as never before. Outstretched lay the immense
opening, nearly one hundred and fifty miles long and about seventy miles
broad. It was fearful to gaze into it, for my eye stretched downward
mile after mile until it reached the blackness of darkness. It
frequently happens that a Moonite accidentally falls into this monster
Newtonian chasm. Nothing more is ever seen or heard of him.

I shuddered as I peered into this gigantic opening whose gaping mouth
could swallow Pike's Peak so that its highest point would be many
thousands of feet below the surface. We have nothing on our Earth that
can compare with this terribly imposing sight, and as I was studying the
expansive waste I could more readily understand how large numbers of
human beings could be destroyed by such fabulous quantities of boiling
lava as were capable of being thrown from this pit. There is no doubt
that the lava and ashes hurled from this crater alone would send a
withering blast of death-dealing for many hundreds of miles around.

If you have never been privileged to look upon this ponderous chasm face
to face, improve your first opportunity to get a glimpse of it through
as powerful a telescope as possible.


A Visit to Mars.

I need not describe the manner of my flight. It is enough to say that,
to my delight, I reached our neighbor planet called Mars, and at once
proceeded to study its physical features and its human life.

Everything was vastly different from what I had been long accustomed to
see and to imagine, and I felt quite assured that I was living in a
dream. But I knew of no way to convince myself as to my bearings, so I
concluded to make the best use of my time and opportunities, and leave
questionings to the future.

As a physical world Mars bears a most striking resemblance to our Earth.
The length of its year is six hundred and eighty-seven of our days, and
the length of its day is twenty-four hours and thirty-seven minutes. Its
diameter is about one-half that of the Earth and its distance from the
Sun is 142,000,000 miles. Even from our own world we can discern
through a good telescope the changing colors of the planet, due to the
recurring seasons, each one of which is almost twice the length of ours.

There is relatively much less water on Mars than is found on our Earth,
and gravity on its surface is only thirty-eight per cent. of terrestrial
gravity. Imagine, then, how light everything must be. This may account
somewhat for the physical proportions of its inhabitants, for they are
over twice our size, and in appearance resemble us but little. They have
four arms, two extra ones extending from a point just above the knees.
The two lower arms act as servants to the two higher. Thus are the four
used at one time in harmony.

Mars is an older world than ours, and although it receives only one-half
as much heat from the sun yet it is almost of the same temperature,
owing to a peculiar condition of the atmosphere which we would call
"heat retentivity."

Some scientists and philosophers will at once say that such atmospheric
conditions are contrary to reason and natural law, but they must be
informed that on Mars there are chemical elements and affinities not
known in our world. It requires but little change in the elementary
construction of the atmosphere to render it capable of strong
heat-retaining properties.

Standing on the surface of this planet, my attention was easily
attracted by the two frisky moons called Deimos and Phobos, at the small
distance of 14,600 and 12,500 miles respectively. These two moons are
constantly flying around the planet, one in about thirty hours and the
other in seven and one-half hours.

The astronomers of Mars have discovered unmistakable signs of human life
on the farthest of these two moons. They are hoping to be able some day
to cover the intervening distance and for the first time see their old
neighbors face to face.

Before I had traveled over one-half the surface of this planet I was
thoroughly convinced that it was a rough, jagged world without lofty
mountain ranges or peaks. The many long and narrow fertile valleys, much
resembling the canons of our own Earth, absorbed my mind with more than
passing interest. Looking carefully into one of these canon depressions,
I saw a class of human beings in a low state of civilization;
nevertheless, they were expert in agriculture and seemed to labor
contentedly with a dull, plodding vigor beyond all reason.

According to appearances there seemed to be no social relation or
connection between the inhabitants of one valley and those of another.
At first I was greatly puzzled at these peculiar conditions.

Next I gave my attention to the highlands or wide barren ridges between
the valleys. On these elevations I saw a highly civilized race of people
living in great splendor. They enjoyed the privilege of traveling from
one highland to another and of exchanging courtesies. Their interests
were common, and their joys and sorrows were mutual.

At once I became interested in these extremes of life as exhibited in
the valleys and on the highlands, and resolved that I would find the
cause for these differences.

The authentic history of these Marsmen runs back through thousands of
years. I learned with interest the wonderful past life on this world.

There was once a time when people all mingled together and cultivated
the valleys. Each one by doing his part made it lighter for all. But
after many years a few schemers combined and by their inventive genius
succeeded in erecting vast sliding curtains over the valleys. These
curtains were supported from the tops of the ridges on each side and, by
their manipulation, the operators could keep the sunlight from any
particular part of the valley.

Then these shrewd Marsmen exacted tribute from the valley-toilers,
saying to them: "Give us a fifth part of your products, and we will give
you sunlight."

So the toilers gave them tribute willingly, knowing that they could not
live without sunlight. Then it came to pass that these toilers were
burdened by reason of their taxes and they prayed to the rich that they
might have sunlight at a lower price, but the rich replied:

"We cannot give you sunlight for less because it costs us much to keep
in repair our immense curtain systems across the valley." So the poor
toilers labored more and slept less, while the few rich on the
elevations built unto themselves more spacious homes and lived in
greater luxury all their days.

In process of time some of the shrewdest highlanders devised an
attachment to the curtain system by which the rainfall could also be
distributed at the will of the operators. Then the rich Marsmen on the
elevations said to the toilers: "Give us one-fifth more of your
products, and we will give you your share of the rainfall."

The poor laborers had no alternative; so they labored still more
diligently to pay their taxes for light and rain, and the burden became
so heavy that they could no longer bear it. So they sent up a petition
praying for sunlight and rain for a one-fifth instead of a two-fifths
tribute. The rich refused to listen to this prayer, whereat the toilers
refused to comply with these intolerable demands.

Then did the rich magnates of the elevations draw their curtains to
keep both sunshine and rain from the valley. The laborers consumed all
they had until, in desperation, they asked again for sunlight and rain,
but the rich refused to give either unless the toilers would promise to
give a two-fifths tribute; to do this the toilers at length agreed. Then
the curtains were withdrawn, the sunlight once more kissed the valley,
the rain again fell upon the fields, and some of the poor, ignorant
people devoutly thanked their God for these gifts.

[Illustration: Monopolizing Light and Rain on Mars.]

It occurred later that one of the many toilers, whom his Creator had
endowed with unusual wisdom, became the leader of the masses in
struggling for their rights. He traveled the whole length of the valley
and advocated that the people should unite, march to the summit of the
hill, destroy the fastenings that held these curtains and, as the
coverings would fall, destroy them with fire. This leader declared that
they were entitled to sunlight and rain without paying tribute to man.
Gradually the workers were won to his views. The rich, seeing that their
investments were threatened, hired a few brilliant orators and sent
them to the people to persuade them not to give heed to a man of one
idea. These orators argued that it would be a great crime to destroy the
property of others, and that their only way of securing happiness was to
toil on with patience and keep looking for brighter days. The people
listened to the specious sophistries and thus pushed aside their
redeemer, putting off forever the day of their deliverance.

Similar troubles continued to arise in the valley, but the rich always
succeeded in quieting the people before they rose to determined action.

Then the rich decided to put an end to these agitations among the
toilers. Accordingly they cut off all communication from valley to
valley, either by epistle or person, and refused longer to permit any
poor toiler, or his children, to pursue any study whatever. By this
method, in the course of a few hundred years, the valley dwellers lapsed
into ignorant slaves, not knowing, except by tradition, that there were
other people in other parts of Mars. Thus the rich continued to
flourish on all the highlands, for they had extended this same policy
until the toilers of the whole planet were practically galley slaves,
each consigned to his own narrow canon.

After witnessing the wide extent of this slavery system, I appeared in
visible form to a rich dignitary on one of the most refined highlands.

He was alone and, upon raising his eyes and seeing me before him, he was
greatly amazed. To see a little man with a hairy face and with the kind
of clothing I wore, was all too odd for him to take in at once. He acted
as if I were some unheard-of animal, but when I addressed him in his own
tongue and manifested a becomingly meek disposition, he accepted me as a
deformed creature afflicted with a mild form of lunacy. Then he
proceeded to examine my clothing and especially my knees, trying to
solve by what freak of nature I was cursed since I had no lower arms
such as he had. My small face, smooth forehead, and the short straight
hair on my head aroused in him no little wonder and merriment, so that,
all in all, I was the oddest freak he had ever seen. He soon showed by
his manner how thankful he was that gracious nature had formed him so
much more kindly than me.

His questions soon poured out upon me and I answered as briefly and
intelligently as I could. He pressed me so hard as to the place of my
birth that I finally informed him that I came from another world,
whereat he was assured of my insanity and proceeded to fasten me by
force until he might summon certain of his friends. Knowing that all the
people of Mars could do me no ultimate harm and wishing to see what
might be their intentions, I offered very feeble resistance to his

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Online LibraryWilliam Shuler HarrisLife in a Thousand Worlds → online text (page 2 of 13)