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In a very short time there was grouped around me a curious set of
people, all of whom seemed to me so horribly ugly that I felt well
satisfied that I had been born on the Earth. Among the company were some
eminent scholars who did no more than peer at one another and walk about
me, while they were waiting for some learned professors to arrive from a
distance. A long, tedious period ensued ere the company of judges or
examiners were gathered from several adjoining highlands.

They took me into a large room where followed an indescribable
examination during which I purposely remained silent.

The button and button holes of my clothing attracted as much attention
as my unnaturally shaped head. My collar and necktie were conundrums.
Not one of the learned scholars was able to advance a theory as to the
probable use of such a stiff piece under my head. I could not conceal my
smiles as I heard the flying theories as to the use of my cuffs. One
specialist decided that inasmuch as I had only two arms, I wore these to
make them appear larger. This was accepted as the most plausible

Several times they urged me to speak. The man to whom I had first
appeared had told them that I was expert in their language. But I would
not utter a word, being anxious to learn all I could by listening to
their conjectures.

Some of my examiners were sure I belonged to a species of their animal
creation, who, in some unaccountable manner, had received the gift of
intelligence. But this opinion did not gain ground, as no one could
account for the manner of my clothing and especially for my pocket knife
and other accompaniments. No one believed that I came from another
world, and yet no one could see how or where I had originated on Mars.

Finally one of the company struck upon a popular theory. He argued that
I belonged to a tribe of creatures that had developed far away in one of
their almost unending forests, and that I was the first of my kind that
had ever ventured so far from home.

"But how did he learn our language?" queried one.

"Any intelligent creature would by nature alone come to our language,"
was the conceited explanation of another.

Another gave a better theory which was at length accepted. He said that
no doubt I belonged to a company that had emigrated long, long ago from
one of the valleys.

After all their pains I satisfied their ruling desire by speaking. They
knew not what to say as I gave them a general description of the world
from which I came.

Purposely I used their most cultured forms of expression. At once I rose
to a high level in their estimation and they gradually accepted my words
as true. With absorbing interest they listened to every syllable and,
when I paused, their questions fell upon me in wild profusion. On my
account the schools were abandoned, all the leading teachers of five
elevations became my astonished auditors, and after every period of
sleep I was confronted by still other classes of specialists, some from
more distant elevations.

Finally, feigning ignorance, I asked where they obtained their
sustenance, as I had not seen one field in cultivation. They told me the
whole history of the toilers in the valley as already recounted, and how
the curtain magnates received their tributes which were sufficient to
feed all the people of the elevations.

"What right," I asked, "has any one to form a monopoly on sunlight or
rain which are free bounties from above?"

"There can be nothing wrong about that," came the positive answer. "Any
man who was wise enough to think of such a splendid system of
valley-covers surely deserves all the benefit that can be secured from

"How did you succeed in getting the people to submit to such a system?"

"It all came by force. At first they were unwilling enough, but we
withdrew their education and kept them isolated. With ignorance you can
conquer any people. Now they are our perfect servants, and in a short
time we need not use the curtains any more. A few masters can control
the whole valley. All we need to give them will be enough to eat, and
the remainder of their products we can send to the elevations."

I was struck with horror at this revolting scheme, and expressed myself
in strong terms. I thought of the conditions of our world and felt
thankful that it had not gone so far that the laboring classes were
galley slaves to the rich; and I breathed my prayer that it might never
be so.

My investigations on this planet were long extended. The educated
people gave me many new ideas, although they are ignorant of many
advantages which we enjoy. Their means of transportation are miserable
compared with ours, and when I was explaining to the Marsmen our methods
of travel they were surprised beyond measure. However their knowledge of
nature and forms of animal life is far superior to ours. There I solved
some of the complex questions of Biology which had long puzzled my mind
during my stay on the Earth.

In their religion they worship the Source of Life, and look upon the Sun
as the place to which the spirit goes at death. In brief, the Sun is
their Heaven. They believe that the Sun's heat will be no barrier to the
spirit's complete happiness when liberated from the body. Phonetically
pronounced, they call the Sun Then-ka.

I was indeed surprised at the simplicity of their devotions to their
unseen God. Even the untutored toilers of the valleys talk to the Source
of Life and are constantly looking forward to the time when their hard
lot will be over that they may enter the Then-ka life. I could not help
but think that their chances of Heaven were better than those of the
highland caste; but I will not judge lest I might err. Who can
understand the universal plans of Jehovah?

Before I left the Marsmen I informed them that certain enthusiasts of my
world had been signaling to them for some time, and urged them to
improve their astronomical apparatus so that they might be able to
discern these signals and reply to them.

On account of my thoughtlessness I made an error, for I failed, while I
was yet on Mars, to arrange a code of signals; hence I fear that there
will be considerable experimenting before we can hope to establish
communication with our neighbor world.


A Glimpse of Jupiter.

The next world I visited was Jupiter, the greatest orb in the solar
system, almost fourteen hundred times as large as our Earth. I found it
whirling on its axis so rapidly that it makes an entire revolution in
about ten hours of our time.

This voluminous sphere is in great contrast to both the Moon and Mars.
Its physical constituency resembles a liquid more than a solid, and it
is quite hot but not luminous. It has cooled sufficiently to admit human
forms, although certain parts of the giant planet are void of all life,
owing to the more intense heat in those sections.

The atmosphere is charged with thick clouds, never at rest and
continually forming into immense scrolls close to the surface of the

The human life of Jupiter is found in certain belts where the crust of
the planet has been hardened for several thousand years. The people have
risen from rude, primitive conditions to a state of splendid
civilization. In size they are colossal giants, averaging twenty-five
feet in height. Their two powerful arms extend from what we would call
the hips, and no one would imagine with what facility these giants use
them. After extended observation, I was almost tempted to wonder why our
arms were placed so high on the body. These Jupiterites are more
handsome than the people on the Moon or Mars, and their faces shine with
a superior intelligence. Instead of hair on the head, they have
something unknown to our world, quite similar in appearance to wool.

Their two eyes blaze like balls of fire, making one of the giants appear
like a fiersome though not repulsive monster. The most unusual feature
about the face is the peculiarity of the chin and forehead. Each is
covered with convolutions of an insensible, rubber-like membrane.

The people of Jupiter excel in mechanical skill. They build houses, but
not by long, tedious days of painstaking labor. Such things as plaster
and paint are unknown. A Jupiterite can purchase, from one of the
mammoth structural factories, house sides, house ends, house floors or
partitions, after any general design he wishes, and have them trimmed in
any style his fancy suggests. The materials used are non-combustible and
water-proof, and will wear indefinitely.

These houses can be put together in a few days and the trimmings
adjusted in less than two weeks, unless the structure is very elaborate.
Nearly all of their house furniture is also non-combustible, and no one
has ever conceived the idea of forming a fire insurance company, simply
because there is no need for one.

As the people are so much larger than we, so are all things relatively
larger than we see them in our world. Wagons and carriages and cars
appear as if they were made for mastodons.

I saw one of their largest bridges spanning a molten lake. Aside of it
the East River bridge would be a dwarf, either in height or length. It
is certainly thrilling to step into a world where all things are so
gigantic. At times a feeling of insignificance crept over me, but I took
courage when I thought that a man's greatness consists in his mental
powers and not in his physical bulk, for it is true that the fifty
ounces of brain in the skull of a Newton have accomplished more marvels
than the ten pounds of brain-matter found in the most cultured

We must give the people of Jupiter credit for exercising a large amount
of common sense. In many ways they are more practical than we, and this
is quite as noticeable in their language as in any other respect. They
have one simple language for the whole globe and in its use they are all
agreed. Their vocabulary is small because they have not yet branched out
into the infinite varieties of manufacture and invention.

Their words have a marvelous correspondence with the thought or the
action expressed, the manner of emphasizing syllables going a great
distance toward expressing the shade of emotion desired.

I admired especially one thing on this bulky planet. They have but one
authority for language. Hence there is no Century, Webster, Worcester or
Standard, each rivaling the others for supremacy, to confuse the honest
student with diverse spellings and pronunciations.

The words of the language of Jupiter are all embodied in one unique
dictionary which is revised at intervals by a board of official
educators; to this board all suggestions for inserting new words and
changing the classification of old ones must be given for their

This dictionary is printed by the government, and a copy of it is
furnished free to all public places and to each private family. When a
revision is made, a copy of all the changes is furnished to each
dictionary holder. The authority of this dictionary is final, and no one
is permitted to publish a conflicting work.

The Jupiterites have displayed their highest genius in their
astronomical advancements. They know all about the Solar System, and
have made discoveries inside of Neptune's orbit which our astronomers
have never observed. I was thrilled with delight when I saw their
telescopes with the marvelous lenses that opened the locked doors of the
Milky Way. No wonder the astronomers of Jupiter have a more
comprehensive view of the universe than we have. Their lenses are so
powerful that they have seen the outlines of our rugged mountains, and
have discovered on our world unmistakable signs of human life. During my
visit thither the experts were working on a much larger lens, and it is
claimed that when this is finished human forms can be discerned on the
Earth and can be seen with more accuracy on Mars.

The five moons that revolve around Jupiter have been studied with marked
interest. Two of these moons have displayed definite signs of human
life. It is promised also that the coming lens will unlock the doors of
the several moons and permit the astronomers of Jupiter to pry into the
secrets of their celestial neighbors.

During the past one thousand years, the Jupiterites have made
numberless attempts to establish communication between these moons and
their planet, but all their efforts have failed. Either the Moonites are
too stupid, or the Jupiterites are not expert enough in throwing out
signals or in building air ships.

For no one thing more than another did I envy the astronomers of Jupiter
than for their marvelous magnifying lenses. I knew that if we had such
lenses, or the material to make them, we could watch with ease the
inhabitants of the Moon or of Mars, and we could study the intelligent
life on Mercury and Venus, to say nothing of the great advantages we
should have in observing comets and all the numberless starry systems
scattered throughout illimitable space.

The religious life of Jupiter proved to be intensely interesting to me.
They have a sacred book which corresponds to our Bible, and it has
always remained in its original form because there is but one language.

Since I left my own world I had not felt so kindred a touch in spirit as
when I invisibly entered one of their great temples of worship, as we
might call it. No vocal music was there, but the mute beckoning of
several thousand arms, as if to implore the favor of the great Inzoork
or Creator, was impressively eloquent to me.

I was thrilled with joy as I learned more of their religion. I found
that their love and service were akin to those of our planet, and that
these same bonds unite them one to another. My conceptions were
enlarging as I saw the family of God enlarging, and I felt that although
I was unlike them in the physical, yet I was their brother in spirit,
and that we all have one Father.

Religious liberty was enjoyed until a few centuries ago when certain
restrictions were formulated. It was seen that some, in exercising their
liberty, proved to be a curse to the state, and consequently a sharp
battle ensued against the liberal element.

The Church won the conflict and now the profession of atheism is not
allowed. If it can be shown that any sane person takes such a position,
he is given a certain period to recant. If recantation is not
forthcoming, he is placed in the public work-house until he
acknowledges the existence of Deity. Atheists are scarce under this
severe ruling.

You may well know how I was startled to see such summary action taken in
regard to unbelievers. At first I prided myself that I belonged to a
world of free thought and free speech, but when I saw the magnetic
effect of these Jupiter regulations I was in doubt as to the superiority
of our religious and irreligious liberties.

The soil of Jupiter yields abundantly. The animals are all large and of
species unknown to us. They have animals that resemble our elephant and
ox; these they use for food. Common birds, as large as geese or turkeys,
flourish in the extensive forests and furnish about one-third of the
food for the giants.

The vegetation is after the order of our world, except that the curse of
weeds and thistles is only one-fourth as great. But the people of
Jupiter have learned more than we of the use of these weeds, and certain
of them are cultivated to a wide extent.

I spent a long time on the planet. I saw the fiery lakes that are fed by
subterraneous streams of lava, and the geysers of blue flame darting
their immense tongues high in the air.

As near as fifty miles to these fiery centers can be seen gardens of
vegetation and fields under cultivation. I yielded at last to a desire
that prompted me to make a personal appearance. So I stopped on a
thoroughfare and occupied a rustic seat at the roadside. I was dressed
in my earthly costume, and sat composedly awaiting developments.

The first living creature that observed my presence was a passing
quadruped. It was larger than a wild goat, and was a small specimen
after its kind. For want of a better name I will call it a "dog."

As soon as I was spied by this animal he set up a hideous howl and ran
at full speed. Knowing my own homeliness, I had all charity for the
animal and did not censure him for being so terribly frightened at my

Soon a full grown giant came along. He chanced to be a learned professor
out for an evening walk, as we would say. He seemed to be in deep
meditation and did not notice me until he was near my side. Then he
stood breathless, while a feeling of fear and surprise evidently
possessed him. I sat motionless, looking up into his eyes, and saw the
convolutions on his forehead and chin quivering quite perceptibly. He
evidently judged me to be some undeveloped species of Mon-go-din, an
animal of Jupiter bearing faint resemblance to our man-ape. To my
surprise, he suddenly grasped me and tightly held me fast in his
gigantic arms. I made no effort to free myself.

His surprise was only intensified at my resignation. He expected a
struggle, but I neither made an outcry nor resisted capture. Like an
infant I lay in his arms, while he passed quick glances all over me. He
was baffled beyond all measure, and hurried away toward the great
college near by. Upon reaching the museum department, I was placed in a
strong cage and the doors were doubly secured.

My captor ran from my presence and, in a few moments, returned with two
other professors. They peered into the cage in painful astonishment,
while I contented myself by taking my watch apart and occasionally
glancing at my select audience.

Then commenced the jibbering consultation, all of which I well
understood. My captor related the full circumstances in connection with
his walk in the grove and the manner in which he captured me. He dwelt
particularly on the indifference I manifested in all his dealings with

"It is a baby Mon-go-din," suggested the one professor, while the other
advanced the theory that I was an abnormal child of some Jupiterite.

My watch excited their curiosity. One reached his hand cautiously
through the bars and evinced by his actions what he wanted. I looked up
into his eyes and spoke my first words.

"Patience, please, till I put the watch together, and you shall have

Not only did his arms fly away from the cage, but his whole body fell
prostrate to the floor, whether from fright or surprise, I knew not. His
two companions were also in a sorry plight. I pretended not to notice
their consternation, and kept myself busy in placing the parts of my
watch together.

After a while I was addressed by a trembling questioner: "Where is your
home, my child?" I did not lift my eyes, but completed my little
self-appointed task, and at once raised the watch in fulfillment of my

The timid professor ventured to accept it and, as he received it from my
hand, he again asked: "Where is your home?"

"Farther away than the circumference of your world," I distinctly

At this time the three agreed that I was an insane child, born out of
time, and that I satisfied my propensities by gathering to myself such
idiotic things as my watch and garments, including my hat and shoes.

A quiet consultation followed, after which one of the professors retired
from the room and soon returned with certain morsels of food. Upon
handing them to me, I at once remarked: "Keep these morsels for
yourself; I have better food to eat, of which you know nothing."

The other two professors had by this time observed that my watch was a
marvelous piece of mechanism beyond their most delicate accomplishments,
and they announced the fact to their other companion who again looked at
me in breathless surprise. "Where did you get this Fot-sil?" (or
plaything), he queried in one breath.

"Farther away than the circumference of your world," was my evasive and,
to them, unsatisfactory reply.

"Won't you tell us, child, how far away that is?" asked another with
subdued impatience.

"Millions of miles." (Of course I spoke in terms of their linear

"How many millions?"

"Sometimes five hundred and sometimes six hundred millions."

Without giving them a chance for asking me another question I offered to
let them see my home if they would permit me to use the most powerful
telescope in their observatory.

My listeners were indeed amazed and were about to pour upon me a volley
of interrogations. I assured them that I would answer no more questions
until I knew whether my request would be granted.

This necessitated a consultation with the chief astronomer who, upon
learning of my peculiar request and of my unnatural formation, hastened
to the museum to see the monstrosity.

I knew from what I had previously learned that this gentleman was the
greatest living astronomer on Jupiter. He peered at me in the cage and
was dumfounded. He exchanged a few sentences with the professor and
again turned to me:

"At what time do you want the telescope?" he asked.


"You shall have it, just to satisfy our curiosity," he said as he
hastened from the room.

I heard the professor caution him strictly to tell no one of my
presence, so as to avoid a rush from the student ranks.

In less than an hour I stood at the side of the largest telescope in our
Solar System, watching the deepening shadows of night as they fell upon

[Illustration: Viewing Our Earth from Jupiter.]

I spent another hour examining the ponderous machinery that was
required to swing this mammoth instrument and to adjust it when scanning
the heavens.

By this time my four companions were convinced that I was not an idiot,
and I could see by their strange manner that they were regarding me as a

I gave my directions to the astronomer, and beheld the cylinder,
two-hundred feet in length and twenty feet in diameter, swing around
until it pointed toward a little flickering light that shone like a
distant star.

I looked into the eye-piece, managed to get the tube pointed accurately,
and then requested the astronomer to focus the lenses so as to bear upon
the planetary light in range.

He knew at once the planet I had singled out. He called it Zo-ide. After
the focusing was completed, I looked and, behold, I could readily
discern many of the physical features of my own world.

"That is my homeland," I cried triumphantly. "I live on Zo-ide, or
Earth, as we call it."

Of course my listeners were incredulous, but I proceeded to explain to
them as I looked through the telescope:

"That dark ridge to the left is called 'the Rocky and Andes Mountain
Systems'. The shining belt on the central portion is the 'Mississippi
River'. The rough ridge to the right is 'the Allegheny System' of
mountains." Then I indicated the location of our larger cities. As I
pointed to New York, I saw a mere speck moving. I was convinced that it
was one of our large steamships, and as I so explained the astronomer
looked at me with absorbing interest.

He informed me that he had often seen the moving of the spots, and
thought they were some cloud formations peculiar to our world. But I
insisted on the steamship explanation and proceeded to describe an ocean
liner, for these Jupiterites are not familiar with oceans of cold water
on which float numerous craft.

I was then a royal guest, and passed a most felicitous night with these
four celebrities. We talked of the more powerful telescope that the
government of Jupiter was manufacturing, and of the still greater views
it promised to reveal.

Then I informed them of our system of science. They were astonished at
the great civilization extant on Zo-ide, or our Earth.

I told them that a subtile power lay dormant in the atoms and molecules
of matter, which could be released and utilized, and that we in our
world called it "electricity."

During the night I learned that the convolutions on the chin and
forehead of a Jupiterite served the purpose of a new sense. By the aid
of these convolutions any person of Jupiter can tell in daylight or
darkness the nature of any surrounding substance, whether it be hard or
soft, combustible or non-combustible, good for food or not. I confess
that I was unable to grasp the idea intelligently. So the people on the
Moon had the same difficulty in understanding the use of my nose.

Before morning dawned I informed my appreciative quartette that I would
see them no more, that I had paused at Jupiter station long enough, and
that I must be off on my vast excursion trip.

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Online LibraryWilliam Shuler HarrisLife in a Thousand Worlds → online text (page 3 of 13)