Chapter 24 WINTER

Hitherto I had experienced only the tropical climate of Mars, with the exception of the short time spent in the northern temperate zone about the height of its summer. I was anxious, of course, to see something also of its winter, and an opportunity presented itself. No institution was more obviously worth a visit than the great University or principal place of highest education in this world, and I was invited thither in the middle of the local winter. To this University many of the most promising youths, especially those intended for any of the Martial professions—architects, artists, rulers, lawyers, physicians, and so forth—are often sent directly from the schools, or after a short period of training in the higher colleges. It is situate far within the north temperate zone on the shore of one of the longest and narrowest of the great Martial gulfs, which extends from north-eastward to south-west, and stretches from 43° N. to 10° S. latitude. The University in question is situate nearly at the extremity of the northern branch of this gulf, which splits into two about 300 miles from its end, a canal of course connecting it with the nearest sea-belt. I chose to perform this journey by land, following the line of the great road from Amacasfe to Qualveskinta for about 800 miles, and then turning directly northward. I did not suppose that I should find a willing companion on this journey, and was myself wishful to be alone, since I dared not, in her present state of health, expose Eveena to the fatigue and hardship of prolonged winter travelling by land. To my surprise, however, all the rest, when aware that I had declined to take her, were eager to accompany me. Chiefly to take her out of the way, and certainly with no idea of finding pleasure in her society, I selected Enva; next to Leenoo the most malicious of the party, and gifted with sufficient intelligence to render her malice more effective than Leenoo’s stupidity could be. Enva, moreover, with the vigorous youthful vitality-so often found on Earth in women of her light Northern complexion, seemed less likely to suffer from the severity of the weather or the fatigue of a land journey than most of her companions. When I spoke of my intention to Davilo, I was surprised to find that he considered even feminine company a protection.

Any attempt upon you,” he said, “must either involve your companion, for which there can be no legal excuse preferred, or else expose the assailant to the risk of being identified through her evidence.”

I started accordingly a few days before the winter solstice of the North, reaching the great road a few miles from the point at which it crosses another of the great gulfs running due north and south, at its narrowest point in latitude 3° S. At this point the inlet is no more than twenty miles wide, and its banks about a hundred feet in height. At this level and across this vast space was carried a bridge, supported by arches, and resting on pillars deeply imbedded in the submarine rock at a depth about equal to the height of the land on either side. The Martial seas are for the most part shallow, the landlocked gulfs being seldom 100 fathoms, and the deepest ocean soundings giving less than 1000. The vast and solid structure looked as light and airy as any suspension bridge across an Alpine ravine. This gigantic viaduct, about 500 Martial years old, is still the most magnificent achievement of engineering in this department. The main roads, connecting important cities or forming the principal routes of commerce in the absence of convenient river or sea carriage, are carried over gulfs, streams, ravines, and valleys, and through hills, as Terrestrial engineers have recently promised to carry railways over the minor inequalities of ground. That which we were following is an especially magnificent road, and signalised by several grand exhibitions of engineering daring and genius. It runs from Amacasfe for a thousand miles in one straight line direct as that of a Roman road, and with but half-a-dozen changes of level in the whole distance. It crossed in the space of a few miles a valley, or rather dell, 200 feet in depth, and with semi-perpendicular sides, and a stream wider than the Mississippi above the junction of the Ohio. Next it traversed the precipitous side of a hill for a distance of three or four miles, where Nature had not afforded foothold for a rabbit or a squirrel. The stupendous bridges and the magnificent open road cut in the side of the rock, its roof supported on the inside by the hill itself, on the outside by pillars left at regular intervals when the stone was cut, formed from one point a single splendid view. Pointing it out to Enva, I was a little surprised to find her capable, under the guidance of a few remarks from myself, of appreciating and taking pride in the marvellous work of her race. In another place, a tunnel pierced directly an intervening range of hills for about eight miles, interrupted only in two points by short deep open cuttings. This passage, unlike those on the river previously mentioned, was constantly and brilliantly lighted. The whole road indeed was lit up from the fall of the evening to the dispersion of the morning mist with a brilliancy nearly equal to that of daylight. As I dared not travel at a greater rate than twenty-five miles per hour—my experience, though it enabled me to manage the carriage with sufficient skill, not giving me confidence to push it to its greatest speed—the journey must occupy several days. We had, therefore, to rest at the stations provided by public authority for travellers undertaking such long land journeys. These are built like ordinary Martial houses, save that in lieu of peristyle or interior garden is an open square planted with shrubs and merely large enough to afford light to the inner rooms. The chambers also are very much smaller than those of good private houses. As these stations are nearly always placed in towns or villages, or in well-peopled country neighbourhoods, food is supplied by the nearest confectioner to each traveller individually, and a single person, assisted by the ambau, is able to manage the largest of them.

The last two or three days of our journey were bitterly cold, and not a little trying. My own undergarment of thick soft leather kept me warmer than the warmest greatcoat or cloak could have done, though I wore a large cloak of the kargynda’s fur in addition—the prize of the hunt that had so nearly cost me dear, a personal and very gracious present from the Camptâ. My companion, who had not the former advantage, though wrapped in as many outer garments and quilts as I had thought necessary, felt the cold severely, and felt still more the dense chill mist which both by night and day covered the greater part of the country. This was not infrequently so thick as to render travelling almost perilous; and but that an electric light, required by law, was placed at each end of the carriage, collisions would have been inevitable. These hardships afforded another illustration of the subjection of the sex resulting from the rule of theoretical equality. More than a year’s experience of natural kindness and consideration had not given Enva courage to make a single complaint; and at first she did her best to conceal the weeping which was the only, but almost continuous, expression of her suffering. She was almost as much surprised as gratified by my expressions of sympathy, and the trouble I took to obtain, at the first considerable town we reached, an apparatus by which the heat generated by motion itself was made to supply a certain warmth through the tubular open-work of the carriage to the persons of its occupants. The cold was as severe as that of a Swedish winter, though we never approached within seventeen degrees of the Arctic circle, a distance from the Pole equivalent to that of Northern France. The Martial thermometer, in form more like a watch-barometer, which I carried in my belt, marked a cold equivalent to 12° below zero C. in the middle of the day; and when left in the carriage for the night it had registered no less than 22° below zero.

One of the Professors of the University received us as his guests, assigning to us, as is usual when a lady is of the party, rooms looking on the peristyle, but whose windows remained closed. Enva, of course, spent her time chiefly with the ladies of the family. When alone with me she talked freely, though needing some encouragement to express her own ideas, or report what she had heard; but she had no intention of concealment, perhaps no notion that I was interested in her accounts of the prevalent feeling respecting the heretics of whom she heard much, except of course that Eveena’s father was among them. Through her I learned that much pains had been taken to intensify and excite into active hostility the dislike and distrust with which they had always been regarded by the public at large, and especially by the scientific guilds, whose members control all educational establishments. That some attempt against them was meditated appeared to be generally reported. Its nature and the movers in the matter were not known, so far as I could gather, even to men so influential as the chief Professors of the University. It was not merely that the women had heard nothing on this point, but that their lords had dropped expressions of surprise at the strictness with which the secret was kept.

As their parents pay, when first the children are admitted to the public Nurseries, the price of an average education, this special instruction is given in the first instance at the cost of the State to those who, on account of their taste and talent, are selected by the teachers of the Colleges. But before they leave the University a bond is taken for the amount of this outlay, which has to be repaid within three years. It is fair to say that the tax is trivial in comparison with the ordinary gains of their professions; the more so that no such preference as, in our world, is almost universally given to a reputation which can only be acquired by age, excludes the youth of Mars from full and profitable employment.

The youths were delighted to receive a lecture on the forms of Terrestrial government, and the outlines of their history; a topic I selected because they were already acquainted with the substance of the addresses elsewhere delivered. This afforded me an opportunity of making the personal acquaintance of some of the more distinguished pupils. The clearness of their intellect, the thoroughness of their knowledge in their several studies, and the distinctness of their acquaintance with the outlines and principles of Martial learning generally,—an acquaintance as free from smattering and superficiality as necessarily unembarrassed by detail,—testified emphatically to the excellence of the training they had received, as well as to the hereditary development of their brains. What was, however, not less striking was the utter absence at once of what I was accustomed to regard as moral principle, and of the generous impulses which in youth sometimes supply the place of principle. They avowed the most absolute selfishness, the most abject fear of death and pain, with a frankness that would have amazed the Cynics and disgusted the felons of almost any Earthly nation. There were partial exceptions, but these were to be found exclusively among those in training for what we should call public life, for administrative or judicial duties. These, though professing no devotion to the interest of others, and little that could be called public spirit, did nevertheless understand that in return for the high rank, the great power, and the liberal remuneration they would enjoy, they were bound to consider primarily the public interest in the performance of their functions—the right of society to just or at least to carefully legal judgment, and diligent efficient administration. Their feeling, however, was rather professional than personal, the pride of students in the perfection of their art rather than the earnestness of men conscious of grave human responsibilities.

In conversing with the chief of this Faculty, I learned some peculiarities of the system of government with which I was not yet acquainted. Promotion never depends on those with whom a public servant comes into personal contact, but on those one or two steps above the latter. The judges, for instance, of the lower rank are selected by the principal judge of each dominion; these and their immediate assistants, by the Chief of the highest Court. The officers around and under the Governor of a province are named by the Regent of the dominion; those surrounding the Regent, as the Regent himself, by the Sovereign. Every officer, however, can be removed by his immediate superior; but it depends on the chief with whom his appointment rests, whether he shall be transferred to a similar post elsewhere or simply dismissed. Thus, while no man can be compelled to work with instruments he dislikes, no subordinate is at the mercy of personal caprice or antipathy.

Promotion, judicial and administrative, ends below the highest point. The judges of the Supreme Court are named by the Sovereign—with the advice of a Council, including the Regents, the judges of that Court, and the heads of the Philosophic and Educational Institutes—from among the advocates and students of law, or from among the ablest administrators who seem to possess judicial faculties. The code is written and simple. Every dubious point that arises in the course of litigation is referred, by appeal or directly by the judge who decides it, to the Chief Court, and all points of interpretation thus referred, are finally settled by an addition to the code at its periodical revision. The Sovereign can erase or add at pleasure to this code. But he can do so only in full Council, and must hear, though he need not regard, the opinions of his advisers. He can, however, suspend immediately till the next meeting of the Council the enforcement of any article.

The Regents are never named from among subordinate officials, nor is a Regent ever promoted to the throne. It is held that the qualities required in an absolute Sovereign are not such as are demanded from or likely to be developed in the subordinate ruler of a dominion however important, and that functions like those of a Regent, at least as important as those of the Viceroy of India, ought not to be entrusted to men trained in subaltern administrative duties. Among the youths of greatest promise, in their eighth year, a certain small number are selected by the chiefs of the University, who visit for this purpose all the Nurseries of the kingdom. With what purpose these youths are separated from their fellows is not explained to them. They are carefully educated for the highest public duties. Year by year those deemed fitter for less important offices are drafted off. There remain at last the very few who are thought competent to the functions of Regent or Camptâ, and from among these the Sovereign himself selects at pleasure his own successor and the occupant of any vacant Regency. The latter, however, holds his post at first on probation, and can, of course, be removed at any time by the Sovereign. If the latter should not before his death have named his own successor, the Council by a process of elimination is reduced to three, and these cast lots which shall name the new Autocrat from among the youths deemed worthy of the throne, of whom six are seldom living at the same time. No Prince is ever appointed under the age of fourteen (twenty-seven) or over that of sixteen (thirty). No Camptâ, has ever abdicated; but they seldom live to fall into that sort of inert indolence which may be called the dotage of their race. The nature of their functions seems to preserve their mental activity longer than that of others; and probably they are not permitted to live when they have become manifestly unfit or incapable to reign.

When first invited to visit the University, I had hoped to make it only a stage and stepping-stone to something yet more interesting—to visit the Arctic hunters once more, and join them in the most exciting of their pursuits; a chase by the electric light of the great Amphibia of the frozen sea-belt immediately surrounding the permanent ice-cap of the Northern Pole. For this, however, the royal licence was required; and, as when I made a similar request during the fur-chase of the Southern season, I met with a peremptory refusal. “There are two men in this world,” said the Prince, “who would entertain such a wish. I dare not avow it; and if there were a third, he would assuredly be convicted of incurable lunacy, though on all other points he were as cold-blooded as the President of the Academy or the Vivisector-General.” I did not tell Eveena of my request till it had been refused; and if anything could have lessened my vexation at the loss of this third opportunity, it would have been the expression of her countenance at that moment. Indeed, I was then satisfied that I could not have left her in the fever of alarm and anxiety that any suspicion of my purpose would have caused.

I seized, however, the opportunity of a winter voyage in a small vessel, manned by four or five ocean-hunters, less timid and susceptible to surface disturbances than ordinary seamen. On such an excursion, Enva, though a far less pleasant companion, was a less anxious charge than Eveena. We made for the Northern coast, and ran for some hundred miles, along a sea-bord not unlike that of Norway, but on a miniature scale. Though in some former age this hemisphere, like Europe, has been subject to glacial action much more general and intense than at present, its ice-seas and ice-rivers must always have been comparatively shallow and feeble. Beaching at last a break in the long line of cliff-guarded capes and fiords, where the sea, half covered with low islands, eats a broad and deep ingress into the land-belt, I disembarked, and made a day’s land journey to the northward.

The ground was covered with a sheet of hard-frozen snow about eighteen inches deep, with an upper surface of pure ice. For the ordinary carriage, here useless, was substituted a sledge, driven from behind by an instrument something between a paddle-wheel and a screw, worked, of course, by the usual electric machinery. The cold was far more intense than I had ever before known it; and the mist that fell at the close of the very short zyda of daylight rendered it all but intolerable. The Arctic circular thermometer fell to within a few points from its minimum of—50° Centigrade [?]. No flesh could endure exposure to such an atmosphere; and were not the inner mask and clothing of soft leather pervaded by a constant feeble current of electricity… .

As we made our way back to the open sea, the temptation to disobey the royal order was all but irresistible. No fewer than three kargyndau were within shot at one and the same time; plunging from the shore of an icy island to emerge with their prey—a fish somewhat resembling the salmon in form and flavour. My companions, however, were terrified at the thought of disobedience to the law; and as we had but one mordyta (lightning-gun) among the party, and the uncertainty of the air-gun had been before proven to my cost, there was some force in their supplementary argument that, if I did not kill the kargynda, it was probable that the kargynda might board us; in which event our case would be summarily disposed of, without troubling the Courts or allowing time to apply, even by telegraph, for the royal pardon. I was suggesting, more to the alarm than amusement of the crew, that we might close the hatches, and either carry the regal beast away captive, or, at worst, dive and drown him—for he cannot swim very far—when their objections were enforced in an unexpected manner. We were drifting beyond shot of the nearest brute, when the three suddenly plunged at once, and as if by concert, and when they rose, were all evidently making for the vessel, and within some eighty yards. I then learnt a new advantage of the electric machinery, as compared with the most powerful steam-engine. A pressure upon a button, and a few seconds sufficed to exchange a speed of four for one of twenty miles an hour; while, instead of sinking the vessel below the surface, the master directed the engine to pump out all the liquid ballast she contained. The waterspout thus sent forth half-drowned the enemy which had already come within a few yards of our starboard quarter, and effectually-scared the others. It was just as well that Enva, who heartily hated the bitter cold, was snugly ensconced in the warm cushions of the cabin, and had not, therefore, the opportunity of giving to Eveena, on our return, her version of an adventure whose alarming aspect would have impressed them both more than its ludicrous side, For half a minute I thought that I had, in sheer folly, exposed half a dozen lives to a peril none the less real and none the more satisfactory that, if five had been killed, the survivor could not have so told the story as to avoid laughing—or being laughed at.

Sweet and serene as was Eveena’s smile of welcome, it could not conceal the traces of more than mere depression on her countenance. Heartily willing to administer an effective lesson to her tormentors, I seized the occasion of the sunset meal to notice the weary and harassed look she had failed wholly to banish.

You look worse each time I return, Madonna. This time it is not merely my absence, if it ever were so. I will know who or what has driven and hunted you so.”

Taken thus by surprise, every face but one bore witness to the truth: Eveena’s distress, Eunané’s mixed relief and dismay, shared in yet greater degree by Velna, who knew less of me, the sheer terror and confusion of the rest, were equally significant. The Martial judge who said that “the best evidence was lost because colour could not be tested or blushes analysed,” would have passed sentence at once. But if Eivé’s air of innocent unconsciousness and childish indifference were not sincere, it merited the proverbial praise of consummate affectation, “more golden than the sun and whiter than snow.” Eveena’s momentary glance at once drew mine upon this “pet child,” but neither disturbed her. Nor did she overact her part. “Eivé,” said Enva one day, “never salts her tears or paints her blushes.” As soon as she caught my look of doubt—

Have I done wrong?” she said, in a tone half of confidence, half of reproach. “Punish me, then, Clasfempta, as you please—with Eveena’s sandal.”

The repartee delighted those who had reason to desire any diversion. The appeal to Eveena disarmed my unwilling and momentary distrust. Eveena, however, answered by neither word nor look, and the party presently broke up. Eivé crept close to claim some silent atonement for unspoken suspicion, and a few minutes had elapsed before, to the evident alarm of several conscious culprits, I sought Eveena in her own chamber.

In spite of all deprecation, I insisted on the explanation she had evaded in public. “I guess,” I said, “as much as you can tell me about ‘the four.’ I have borne too long with those who have made your life that of a hunted therne, and rendered myself anxious and restless every day and hour that I have left you alone. Unless you will deny that they have done so—— Well, then, I will have peace for you and for myself. I cannot leave you to their mercy, nor can I remain at home for the next twelve dozen days, like a chained watch-dragon. Pass them over!” (as she strove to remonstrate); “there is something new this time. You have been harassed and frightened as well as unhappy.”

Yes,” she admitted, “but I can give nothing like a reason. I dare not entreat you not to ask, and yet I am only like a child, that wakes screaming by night, and cannot say of what she is afraid. Ought she not to be whipped?”

I can’t say, bambina; but I should not advise Eivé to startle you in that way! But, seriously, I suppose fear is most painful when it has no cause that can be removed. I have seen brave soldiers panic-stricken in the dark, without well knowing why.”

I watched her face as I spoke, and noted that while the pet name I had used in the first days of our marriage, now recalled by her image, elicited a faint smile, the mention of Eivé clouded it again. She was so unwilling to speak, that I caught at the clue afforded by her silence.

It is Eivé then? The little hypocrite! She shall find your sandal heavier than mine.”

No, no!” she pleaded eagerly. “You have seen what Eivé is in your presence; and to me she is always the same. If she were not, could I complain of her?”

And why not, Eveena? Do you think I should hesitate between you?”

No!” she answered, with unusual decision of tone. “I will tell you exactly what you would do. You would take my word implicitly; you would have made up your mind before you heard her; you would deal harder measure to Eivé than to any one, because she is your pet; you would think for once not of sparing the culprit, but of satisfying me; and afterwards”——

She paused, and I saw that she would not conclude in words a sentence I could perhaps have finished for myself.

I see,” I replied, “that Eivé is the source of your trouble, but not what the trouble is. For her sake, do not force me to extort the truth from her.”

I doubt whether she has guessed my misgiving,” Eveena answered. “It may be that you are right—that it is because she was so long the only one you were fond of, that I cannot like and trust her as you do. But … you leave the telegraph in my charge, understanding, of course, that it will be used as when you are at home. So, after Davilo’s warning, I have written their messages for Eunané and the others, but I could not refuse Eivé’s request to write her own, and, like you, I have never read them.”

Why?” I asked. “Surely it is strange to give her, of all, a special privilege and confidence?”

Eveena was silent. She could in no case have reproached me in words, and even the reproach of silence was so unusual that I could not but feel it keenly. I saw at that moment that for whatever had happened or might happen I might thank myself; might thank the doubt I would not avow to my own mind, but could not conceal from her, that Eveena had condescended to something like jealousy of one whose childish simplicity, real or affected, had strangely won my heart, as children do win hearts hardened by experience of life’s roughness and evil.

I know nothing,” Eveena said at last: “yet somehow, and wholly without any reason I can explain, I fear. Eivé, you may remember, has, as your companion, made acquaintance with many households whose heads you do not believe friends to you or the Zinta. She is a diligent correspondent. She never affects to conceal anything, and yet no one of us has lately seen the contents of a note sent or received by her.”

There was nothing tangible in Eveena’s suspicion. It was most repugnant to my own feelings, and yet it implanted, whether by force of sympathy or of instinct, a misgiving that never left me again.

My own,” I answered, “I would trust your judgment, your observation or feminine instinct and insight into character, far sooner than my own conclusions upon solid facts. But instincts and presentiments, though we are not scientifically ignorant enough to disregard them, are not evidence on which we can act or even inquire.”

No,” she said. “And yet it is hard to feel, as I cannot help feeling, that the thunder-cloud is forming, that the bolt is almost ready to strike, and that you are risking life, and perhaps more than life, out of a delicacy no other man would show towards a child—since child you will have her—who, I feel sure, deserves all she might receive from the hands of one who would have the truth at any cost.”

You feel,” I answered, “for me as I should feel for you. But is death so terrible to us? It means leaving you—I wish we knew that it does not mean losing for ever, after so brief an enjoyment, all that is perishable in love like ours—or it would not be worth fearing. I don’t think I ever did fear it till you made my life so sweet. But life is not worth an unkindness or injustice. Better die trusting to the last than live in the misery and shame of suspecting one I love, or dreading treacherous malice from any hand under my own roof.”

When I met Davilo the next morning, the grave and anxious expression of his face—usually calm and serene even in deepest thought, as are those of the experienced members of an Order confident in the consciousness of irresistible secret power—not a little disturbed me. As Eveena had said, the thunder-cloud was forming; and a chill went to my heart which in facing measurable and open peril it had never felt.

I bring you,” he said; “a message that will not, I am afraid, be welcome. He whose guest you were at Serocasfe invites you to pay him an immediate visit; and the invitation must be accepted at once.”

I drew myself up with no little indignation at the imperative tone, but feeling at least equal awe at the stern calmness with which the mandate was spoken.

And what compels me to such haste, or to compliance without consideration?”

That power,” he returned, “which none can resist, and to which you may not demur.”

Seeing that I still hesitated—in truth, the summons had turned my vague misgiving into intense though equally vague alarm and even terror, which as unmanly and unworthy I strove to repress, but which asserted its domination in a manner as unwonted as unwelcome—he drew aside a fold of his robe, and showed within the silver Star of the Order, supported by the golden sash, that marked a rank second only to that of the wearer of the Signet itself. I understood too well by this time, through conversations with him and other communications of which it has been needless to speak, the significance of this revelation. I knew the impossibility of questioning the authority to which I had pledged obedience. I realised with great amazement the fact that a secondary position on my own estate, and a personal charge of my own safety, had been accepted by a Chief of the Zinta.

There is, of course,” I replied at last, “no answer to a mandate so enforced. But, Chief, reluctant as I am to say it, I fear—fear as I have never done before; and yet fear I cannot say, I cannot guess what.”

There is no cause for alarm,” he said somewhat contemptuously. “In this journey, sudden, speedy, and made under our guard as on our summons, there is little or none of that peril which has beset you so long.”

You forget, Chief,” I rejoined, “that you speak to a soldier, whose chosen trade was to risk life at the word of a superior; to one whose youth thought no smile so bright as that of naked steel, and had often ‘kissed the lips of the lightning’ ere the down darkened his own. At any rate, you have told me daily for more than a year that I am living under constant peril of assassination; have I seemed to quail thereat? If, then, I am now terrified for the first time, that which I dread, without knowing or dreaming what it is, is assuredly a peril worse than any I have known, the shadow of a calamity against which I have neither weapon nor courage. It cannot be for myself that I am thus appalled,” I continued, the thought flashing into my mind as I spoke it, “and there is but one whose life is so closely bound with mine that danger to her should bring such terror as this. I go at your bidding, but I will not go alone.”

He paused for some time, apparently in perplexity, certainly in deep thought, before he replied.

As you will. One thing more. The slips of tafroo with which you furnished me have been under the eyes of which you have heard. This” (handing me the one that bore no mark) “has passed, so far as the highest powers of the sense that is not of the body can perceive, through none but innocent hands. The hand from which you received this” (the marked slip) “is spotted with treason, and may to-morrow be red.”

I was less impressed by this declaration than probably would have been any other member of the Order. I had seen on Earth the most marvellous perceptions of a perfectly lucid vision succeeded, sometimes within the space of the same day, by dreams or hallucinations the most absolutely deceptive. I felt, therefore, more satisfaction in the acquittal of Eunané, whom I had never doubted, than trouble at the grave suspicion suggested against Eivé—a suspicion I still refused to entertain.

You should enter your balloon as soon as the sunset mist will conceal it,” said Davilo. “By mid-day you may reach the deep bay on the mid sea-belt of the North, where a swift vessel will meet you and convey you in two or three days by a direct course through the canal and gulf you have traversed already, to the port from which you commenced your first submarine voyage.”

You had better,” I said, “make your instruction a little more particular, or I shall hardly know how to direct my course.”

Do not dream,” he answered, “that you will be permitted to undertake such a journey but under the safest guidance. At the time I have named all will be ready for your departure, and you have simply to sleep or read or meditate as you will, till you reach your destination.”

Eveena was not a little startled when I informed her of the sudden journey before me, and my determination that she should be my companion. It was unquestionably a trying effort for her, especially the balloon voyage, which would expose her to the cold of the mists and of the night, and I feared to the intenser cold of the upper air. But I dared not leave her, and she was pleased by a peremptory decision which made her the companion of my absence, without leaving room for discussion or question. The time for our departure was drawing near when, followed by Eunané, she came into my chamber.

If we are to be long away,” she said, “you must say on whom my charges are to devolve.”

As you please,” I answered, sure of her choice, and well content to see her hand over her cares to Eunané, who, if she lacked the wisdom and forbearance of Eveena, could certainly hold the reins with a stronger hand.

Eivé,” she said, “has asked the charge of my flowerbed; but I had promised it, and”——

And you would rather give it,” I answered, “to Eunané? Naturally; and I should not care to allow Eivé the chance of spoiling your work. I think we may now trust whatever is yours in those once troublesome hands,” looking at Eunané, “with perfect assurance that they will do their best.”

I had never before parted even from Eunané with any feeling of regret; but on this occasion an impulse I could not account for, but have ever since been glad to remember, made me turn at the last moment and add to Eveena’s earnest embrace a few words of affection and confidence, which evidently cheered and encouraged her deputy. The car that awaited us was of the light tubular construction common here, formed of the silvery metal zorinta. About eighteen feet in length and half that breadth, it was divided into two compartments; each, with the aid of canopy and curtains, forming at will a closed tent, and securing almost as much privacy as an Arab family enjoys, or opening to the sky. In that with which the sails and machinery were connected were Davilo and two of his attendants. The other had been carefully lined and covered with furs and wrappings, indicating an attention to my companion which indeed is rarely shown to women by their own lords, and which none but the daughter of Esmo would have received even among the brethren of the Order. Ere we departed I had arranged her cushions and wrapped her closely in the warmest coverings; and flinging over her at last the kargynda skin received from the Camptâ, I bade her sleep if possible during our aerial voyage. There was need to provide as carefully as possible for her comfort. The balloon shot up at once above the evening mists to a height at which the cold was intense, but at which our voyage could be guided by the stars, invisible from below, and at which we escaped the more dangerously chilling damp. The wind that blew right in our teeth, caused by no atmospheric current but by our own rapid passage, would in a few moments have frozen my face, perhaps fatally, had not thick skins been arranged to screen us. Even through these it blew with intense severity, and I was glad indeed to cover myself from head to foot and lie down beside Eveena. Her hand as she laid it on mine was painfully cold; but the shivering I could hardly suppress made her anxious to part in my favour with some at least of the many coverings that could hardly screen herself from the searching blast. Not at the greatest height I reached among the Himalayas, nor on the Steppes of Tartary, had I experienced a cold severer than this. The Sun had just turned westward when we reached the port at which we were to embark. Despite the cold, Eveena had slept during the latter part of our voyage, and was still sleeping when I placed her on the cushions in our cabin. The sudden and most welcome change from bitter cold to comfortable warmth awakened her, as it at last allowed me to sleep. Our journey was continued below the surface at a rate of more than twelve hundred miles in the day, a speed which made observation through the thick but perfectly transparent side windows of our cabin impossible. I was indisposed for meditation, which could have been directed to no other subject than the mysterious purpose of our journey, and had not provided myself with books. But in Eveena’s company it was impossible that the time should pass slowly or wearily.

In this balloon journey I had a specially advantageous opportunity of observing the two moons—velnaa, as they are called. Cavelna, or Caulna, the nearer, in diameter about 8’ or a little more than one-fourth that of our Moon, is a tolerably brilliant object, about 5000 miles from the surface. Moving, like all planets and satellites, from west to east, it completes its stellar revolution and its phases in less than seven and a half hours; the contrary revolution of the skies prolongs its circuit around the planet to a period of ten hours. Zeelna (Zevelna) returns to the same celestial meridian in thirty hours; but as in this time the starry vault has completed about a rotation and a quarter in the opposite direction, it takes nearly five days to reappear on the same horizon. It is about 3’ in diameter, and about 12,000 miles from the surface. The result of the combined motions is that the two moons, to the eye, seem to move in opposite directions. When we rose above the mists, Caulna was visible as a very fine crescent in the west; Zeelna was rising in the east, and almost full; but hardly a more brilliant object than Venus when seen to most advantage from Earth. Both moved so rapidly among the stars that their celestial change of place was apparent from minute to minute. But, as regarded our own position, the appearance was as opposite as their direction. Zeelna, traversing in twelve hours only one-fifth of the visible hemisphere, while crossing in the same time 144° on the zodiac—twelve degrees per hour, or our Moon’s diameter in two minutes and a half—was left behind by the stars; and fixing what I may call the ocular attention on her, she seemed to stand still while they slowly passed her; thus making their revolution perceptible to sense as it never is on Earth, for lack of a similar standard. Caulna, rising in the west and moving eastwards, crossed the visible sky in five hours, and passed through the stars at the rate of 48° per hour, so that she seemed to sail past them like a golden cloudlet or celestial vessel driven by a slow wind. It happened this night that she passed over the star Fomalhaut—an occultation which I watched with great interest through an excellent field-glass, but which lasted only for about half a minute. About an hour before midnight the two moons passed each other in the Eastern sky; both gibbous at the moment, like our Moon in her last quarter. The difference in size and motion was then most striking; Caulna seeming to rush past her companion, and the latter looking like a stationary star in the slowly moving sky.