OCR Interpretation


The herald. [microfilm reel] (Los Angeles [Calif.]) 1893-1900, March 27, 1898, Image 23

Image and text provided by University of California, Riverside; Riverside, CA

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042461/1898-03-27/ed-1/seq-23/

What is OCR?


Thumbnail for 21

EDISON'S
CONQUEST
of MARS
Garrett P. Serviss
ICopyrlgbt, 18DS. by Gnrrett P. Scrvlss.]
SYNOPSIS.
The Inventive genius of Thomas A. Edi
tion makes possible an attack of the earth
upon Mars. This is done to prevent a sec
ond Invasion of tho Martians, who arc
trying to relievo their overpopulatea
planet; the first having failed through the
breaking out of disease and not human et
fort. Edison Invents a practical electrical
air ship, and an engine of destruction
called tho "Disintegrator," which win
cause the constituent particles of uny ob
ject at which It may be directed to so
vibrato that tho object will bo Immediate
ly and completely dispersed. A large neot
of air ships armed with disintegrators and
manned by two thousand men, among
whom are many famous scientists, seta
out. When several million miles from
Mars the expedition comes upon a party
of Martians upon a small heavenly body
one of the asteroids. The Martians are
of giant stature, human In form, but of
somewhat repulsive aspect. The astero...
Is of solid gold, and to get the precious
metal is doubtless the reason for tho Mar
tians' presence. Another party from
Mars arrives in one of their aerial cars,
and an encounter follows. In which, how
ever, the superior efficiency of the disinte
grator over the enemy's engines of war
is ably proven, and the fleet leaves for
Mars. Hut victory has not been won un
til several shins have been destroyed, and
many men killed. The Meet arrives above
the land nf Hellas, on Mars, and llnds a
host of air ships on tho watch. The Mar
tians cover their planet with a thick cloud
of smoke, which the visitors pierce with
their disintegrators. The Martians launch
their thunderbolts, and do much damage
to the Edison fleet, which Anally drops
beneath the smoke curtain and engages
the enemy, In their ships, ln dose com
bat. The destruction is awful, both on
land ami In the air, and the ships from
the earth withdraw but sixty In number.
The next move Is a strategic plan pro
posed by Colonel Smith, an army officer.
The majority of the ships arc concen
trated at a certain point where the at
tention of Martians Is held, while a few
arc sent to the other side of the planet to
effect a landing, and if possible obtain
some much needed provisions for tho
fleet. Colonel Smith's ship descends near
v largo building. The Colonel and the
narrator approaching, hoar strains of
beautiful music issuing from It. Enter
ing, they are amazed to find a young girl
—a human being—playing on a strange in
strument for the amusement of several
Martians, The latter are ipiloklv dis
patched with disintegrators, and the girl
Is taken back to the main squadron, to
gether with large quantities of com
pressed food that are found In the build
ing. Although none can understand the
girl, it is perceived that her language is
of human origin. The whole squadron re
pairs to tho farther moon of afars. Def
ines, In order to glvo the linguists of the
party time to acquire the- girl's speech
[ for Mr. Edison believes that she can give
them Information that will lead to a suc
cessful routing of the enemy,
XIX
Deimci proved to be, as we bad ex
pected, about six miles in diameter. Its
meun density is not very great, so that
the acceleration of gravity did not ex
ceed one two-thousandths of the
earth's. Consequently the weight of a
man turning the settles at 150 at home
was here only about one ounce.
The attraction of this little satellite
was so slight that we had to be very
careful nut to move too quickly in going
about lest we should involuntarily
leave the ground and sail out into
space, as, it will be remembered, had
happened to the fugitives during the
fight on the asteroid.
Not only would such an adventure
have been an uncomfortable experi
ence, but it might have endangered the
success of our scheme. Our present
distance from the surface of Mars did
not exceed 12,500 miles, and we had
reason to believe that the Martians
possessed telescopes powerful enough
to enable them not merely to see the
electrical ships at such a distance, but
also to catch sight of us individually.
Although the cloud curtain still rested
on the planet it was was probable that
the Martians would send some of their
air ships up to its surface in order to
determine what our fate had been.
Accordingly strict orders were given,
not only that the ships should be
moored on that side of the satellite
which is perpetually turned away from
Mars, but that, without orders, no one
should venture around on the other
side of the little globe, or even on the
edge of it, where he might be seen in
profile against the sky.
Still, of course, it was essential that
we, on our part, should keep a. close
watch, and so a number of sentinels
were selected, wlics* duty It was to
place themselves at the edge of Deimos,
where they could peep over the horizon,
so to speak, and catch sight of the
globe of our enemies.
At the suggestion of Colonel Smith,
who had bo frequently stalked Indians
that devices of this kind readily oc
curred to his mind, the sentinels all
wore garments corresponding in color
to that of the soil of the asteroid,
which was of a dark, reddish brown
hue. This would tend to conceal them
from the prying eyes of the Martians.
Finally, after about *a week had
passed, the Martians evidently made
up their minds that they had annihi
lated us, and that there was no longer
danger to be feared. Convincing evi
dence that they believed we should not
be heard from again was furnished
when the withdrawal of the great cur
tain of cloud began.
This phenomenon first manifested it
self by a gradual thinning of the va
porous shield until, at length, we be
gan to perceive the red surface of the
planet dimly shining through it. Thin
ner and rarer it became, and, after the
lapse of about eighteen hours, it had
completely disappeared and the huge
globe shone out again, reflecting the
light of the sun from its continents
and oceans with a brightness that. In
contrast with the all-enveloping, night
to which we had so long been subject
ed, seemed, unbearable to our eyes.
Meanwhile, the object which we
had in view in retreating to the satel
lite was not lost si;;ht of, and the serv
ices of the chief linguists of the expe-
dition were again called Into use for
the purpose of acquiring a new lan
guage. The experiment was conducted
in the flagship. The fact that this time
It was not a monster belonging to an
utterly alien race upon whom we were
to experiment, but a beautiful daughter
of our common Mother Eve, added zest
and Interest as well as the most con
fident hopes of success to those who
were striving to understand the ac
cents of her tongue.
Still the dilllculty was very great,
notwithstanding the conviction of the:
professors that her language would
turn out to be a form of the great
Indo-European speech, from which the
many tongues of civilized men upon the
earth had been derived.
The learned men, tv tell the truth,
gave the poor girl no rest. For hours
at a time they would ply her with In
terrogations by voice and by gesture,
until, at length, wearied beyond en
durance, Hhe would fall asleep before
their faces.
Then she would be left undisturbed
for a little while, but the moment her
eyes opened again the merciless pro
fessors Hocked about her once more,
and resumed tho tedious iteration of
their experiments.
Our Heidelberg professor was the
chief inquisitor, and ho revealed him
self to us In a new and entirely unex
pected light. No one could have antici
pated the depth and variety of his re
sources. He placed himself In front of
the girl and gestured and gesticulated,
bowed, nodded, shrugged his shoulders,
screw ed his face into an infinite variety
of expressions, smiled, laughed, scowled
and accompanied all these dumb shows
with posturing, exclamations, queries,
only half expressed in words, and ca
dences, which by some ingenious ma
nipulation of the tones of his voice, he
managed to make expressive of his de
sires.
The girl looked on, partly astonished,
partly amused, and partly compre
hending. Sometimes she smiled, and
then tlie beauty of her face became
most captivating. Occasionally she
burst Into a cheery laugh when the
professor was executing some of his
extraordinary gyrations before her.
It was a marvelous exhibition of
what the human intellect, when all its
powers are concentrated upon a single
object, is capable of achieving. It
seemed to nio, as I looked at the per
formance, that If all the faces of men
who had been stricken asunder at the
foot of the Tower of Babel by the
miracle Which made the tongues of
each to speak a language unknown to
the others, could be brought together
again ut the foot of the same tower,
with all the advantages which thou
sands of years of education bad in the
meantime imparted to them, they
would be able, without any miracle, to
make themselves mutually understood.
And it was evident that an under
standing was actually growing between
the girl and the professor. Their minds
were plainly meeting and when both
had become focused upon the same
point, it was perfectly certain that the
object of the experiment would be at
tained.
Whenever the professor got from the
girl an intelligent reply to his panto
mimic inquiries, or whenever he be
lieved that he got such a reply, it was
Immediately jotted down In the ever
open note book which he carried in his
hand.
And then he would tun to us stand
ing by, and with one hand to his heart,
and the other sweeping grandly
through the air, would make a pro
found bow anil say:
"The young lady and I great pro
gress make already. I have her words
comprehended. We shall wondrous
mysteries solve. Jawohl! Wunder
licb! Make yourselves, gentlemen, easy.
Of the human race the ancestral stem
have I here discovered."
There was one thing which gave
some of us considerable misgiving, and
that was the question whether, after
all, the language the professor was ac
quiring was really the girl's own
tongue or one that she had learned
from the Martians.
But the professor bade us rest easy
on that point. He assured us, in the
first place, that this girl could not be
the only human being living upon
MarS, but that she must have friends
and relatives there. That being so, they
unquestionably had a language of their
own, which they spoke when they were
among themselves. Here finding her
self among beings belonging to her own
race, she would naturally speak her
own tongue and not that which she had
acquired from the Martians.
"Moreover, gentlemen," he added, "I
have in her speech many roots of the
great Aryan tongue already recog
nized."
We were greatly relieved by this ex
planation, which seemed to all of us
perfectly satisfactory.
Yet, really, there was no reason why
one language should be any better than
the other for our present purpose. In
fact, it might be more useful to us to
know the language of the Martians
themselves. Still, we all felt that we
should prefer to know her language
rather than that of the monsters
among whom she had lived.
Colonel Smith expressed what was in
all our minds when after listening to
the reasoning of the professor he blurt
ed out:
"Thank God, she don't speak any of
their blamed lingo! By Jove, it would
soil her pretty Hps."
"But also that she speaks, too," said
the man from Heidelberg, turning to
Colonel Smith with a grin. "We shall
both of them eventually learn."
XX.
Three entire weeks were passed in
this mapper. After the first week the
girl herself materially assisted the lin
guists ia their efforts to acquire her
speech.
At length the task was so far ad
vanced that we could, in a certain
sense', regard it as practically com
pleted. The Heidelberg professor de
clared that he had mastered the tongue
LOS ANGELES HERALDi SUNDAY MORNING, MARCH 27, 1898.
of the ancient Aryans. His delight was
unbounded. With prodlgous industry
he set to work, scarcely stopping to eat
or sleep, to form a grammar of the lan
guage.
"You shall see," he said, " it will
the speculations of my countrymen
vindicate."
Immediately nlmost every man ln the
squadron set vigorously to work to
learn the language of this fair crea
ture for himself. Colonel Smith and
Sidney Phillips were neck and neck in
the linguistic race.
One of the first bits of information
which the professor had given out was
the name of the girl.
It was Aina (pronounced Ah-ee-na).
This news was Hashed throughout
the squadron, and the name of our
beautiful captive was on the lips of all.
After that came her story, it was
a marvelous narrative. Translated into
our tongue it ran as follows:
"The traditions of my fathers, hand
ed down for generations so many that
no one can number them, declare that
the planet of Mars was not the place
of out- origin.
"Ages and ages ago our forefathers
dwelt on another and distant world
that was nearer to the sun than this
one Is, and enjoyed brighter daylight
than we have here.
"They dwelt—as I have often heard
the story from my father, who had
learned it by heart from his father, and
he from his—in a beautiful valley that
was surrounded by enormous moun
tains towering into the clouds and
white about their tops with snow that
never melted. In the valley were lake's,
around which clustered the dwellings
of our race.
"It was, the traditions say, a land
wonderful for its fertility, filled with
all things that the heart could desire,
splendid with flowers and rich with
luscious fruits.
"It was a land of music, and the
people who dwelt in it were very
happy."
While the girl was telling this part
of her story the Heidelberg professor
became visibly more and more excited.
Presently he could keep quiet no longer
and suddenly exclaimed, turning to us
who were listening, as the words of the
girl were interpreted for us by one of
the other linguists:
"Gentlemen, it is the Vale of Cash
mere! Has not my great countryman,
Adelung, so declared? Has he not said
that the Valley of Cashmere was the
cradle of the human race already?"
"From the Valley of Cashmere to
the planet Mars—what a romance!"
exclaimed one of the bystanders.
Colonel Smith appeared to be partic
ularly moved, and I heard him hum
ming under his breath, greatly to my
"The Young Lady and I Great Progress* Make Already."
astonishment, for this rough soldier
was not much given to poetry or
music:
"Who has not heard of the Vale of
Cashmere,
With its roses the brightest that
earth ever gave;
Its temples, its grottoes, its fountains
as clear,
As the love-lighted eyes that hang
over the wave."
Mr. Sidney Phillips, standing by, and
also catching the murmur of Colonel
Smith's words, showed in bis handsome
countenance some indications of dis
tress, as if he wished he had thought
of those linos himself.
The girl resumed her narrative:
"Suddenly there dropped down out of
the sky strange gigantic enemies,
armed with mysterious weapons, and
began to slay and burn and make deso
late. Our forefathers could not with
stand them. They seemed like demons,
who had been sent from the abodes of
evil to destroy our race.
"Some of the wise men said that this
thing had come upon our people be
cause they had been very wicked, and
the gods in Heaven were angry. Some
said they came from the moon, and
some from the far-away stars. But of
these things my forefathers knew
nothing for a certainty.
"The destroyers showed no mercy to
the inhabitants of the beautiful valley.
Not content with making it a desert,
they swept over other parts of the
earth.
"The traditions say that they carried
off from the valley, which was our na
tive land, a large number of our people,
taking them first into a strange coun
try, where there were oceans of sand,
but where a great river, flowing
through the midst of the sands, created
a narrow land of fertility. Here, after
having slain and driven out the native
inhabitants, they remained for many
years, keeping our people, whom they
had carried into captivity as slaves.
"And in this Land of Sand, it is said,
they did many wonderful works.
"They had been astonished at the
sight of the great mountains which
surrounded our valley, for on Mars
there are no mountains, and after they
came Into the Land of Sand they built
there with huge blocks of stone moun
tains in imitation of what they had
seen, and used them for purposes that
our people did not understand.
"Then, too, It is said that they left
there at the foot of these mountains
that they had made, a gigantic image
of the great chief who led them in
their conquest of our world."
At this jfolnt ln the story the Heidel
berg professor again broke in, fairly
trembling with excitement.
"Gentlemqn, gentlemen," he cried, "is
it that you do not understand? This
Land of Sand and of a wonderful fer
tilizing river—what can it be? Gen
tlemen, it Is Egypt! These mountains
of rock that the Martians have erected,
what are they? Gentlemen, they are
the great mystery of the land of the
Nile, the Pyramids. The gigantic stat
ue of their leader that they at the foot
of their artificial mountans have set
up—gentlemen, what is that? It is the
Sphinx!"
The professor's agitation was so
great that he could go no further. And
indeed there was not one of us who did
not fully Rhare his excitement. To think
that wo should have come to the planet
Mars to solve one of the standing
mysteries of the earth, which had puz
zled mankind and dolled all their ef
forts at solution for so many centuries!
Here, then, was the explanation of how
those gigantic blocks that constitute
the great Pyramid of Cheops had been
swung to their lofty elevation. It was
not the work of puny men, as many
an engineer had declared that it could
not be, but the work of those giants of
Mars.
Aina resumed her story:
"At length, our traditions say, a
groat pestilence broke out in the Land
Sand, and a partial vengeance was
granted to us in the destruction of
the larger number of fur enemies. At
last the giants who remained, fleeing
before this scourge of the gods, used
the mysterious means at their com
mand, and, carrying our ancestors
with them, returned to their own
world, in which we have ever since
lived."
"Then there are more of your people
In Mars?" said one of the professors.
"Alas, no," replied Aina, her eyes
filling with tears, "I alone am left."
For a few minutes she was unable to
speak. Then she continued:
"What fury possessed them I do not
know, but not long ago an expedition
departed from the planet, the purpose
of which, as it was noised about over
Mars, was the conquest of a distant
world After a time a few survivors of
that expedition returned. The
they told cttjised great excitement
among our masters. They had been
successful in their battles with the in
habitants of the world they had inva
ded, but as in the days of our forefath
ers, in the Land of Sand, a pestilence
smote them, and but few survivors es
caped.
"Not long after that, you, with your
mysterious ships, appeared in the sky
of Mars. Our masters studied you with
their telescopes, and those who had re
turned from tha unfortunate expedi-
tion declared that you were inhabi
tants of the world which they bad in
vaded, come, doubtless, to take ven
geance upon them.
"Some of my people who were per
mitted to look through the telescopes
of the Martians, saw you also and
recognized you as members of their
own race. There were several thousand
of us altogether, and we were kept by
the Martians to serve them as slaves,
and particularly to delight their ears
with music, for our people have always
been especially skilful in the playing of
musical instruments, and in songs, and
while the Martians have but little mu
sical skill themselves, they are exceed
ingly fond of these things.
"Although Mars had completed not
less than five thousand circuits about
the sun since our ancestors were
brought as prisoners to its surface, yet
the memory of our distant home had
never perished from the hearts of our
race, and when we recognized you, as
we believed, our own brothers, come to
rescue us from long imprisonment,
there was great rejoicing. The news
spread from mouth to mouth, wherever
we were ln the houses and families of
our masters We seemed to be power
less to aid you, or to communicate
with you in any manner. Yet our
hearts went out to you, as in your
ships you hung above the planet, and
preparations were secretly made by all
the members of our race for your re
ception when, as we believed would
occur, you would effect a landing upon
the planet and destroy our enemies.
"But in some manner the fact that
we had recognized you and were pre
paring to welcome you came to the
ears of the Martians."
At thi3 point the girl suddenly cov
ered her eyes wth her hands, shud
dering and falling back in her seat.
"Oh, you do not know them as I do!"
at length she exclaimed. "The mon
sters! Their vengeance was too terri
ble! Instantly the order went forth
that we should all be butchered, and
that awful command was executed!"
"How, then, did you escape?" asked
the Heidelberg professor.
Aina seemed unable to speak for a
while. Finally mastering her emotion,
she replied:
"One of the chief officers of the Mar
tians wished me to remain alive. He,
wth his aides, carried me to one of the
military depot of supplies, where I was
found and rescued," and as she said
this she turned toward Colonel Smith
with a smile that reflected on his ruddy
face and made it glow like a Chinese
lantern.
"By-—!" muttered Colonel Smith,
"that was the fellow we blew Into
nothing! Blast him, he got off too
easy!"
The remainder of Alna's story may
be briefly told.
When Colonel Smith and I entered
the mysterious building which, as it
now proved, was not a storehouse be
longing to a village, as we had sup
posed, but one of the military depots
of the Martians, the girl, on catching
sight of us, immediately recognized us
as belonging to the strange squadron
in the sky. As such she felt that we
must be her friends, and saw in us her
only possible hope of escape. For that
reason she had instantly thrown her
self under our protection. This ac
counted for the singular confidence she
had manifested In us from the begin
ning.
Aina bad said that Mars had com
pleted 5,000 circuits about the sun since
her people were brought to it as cap
tives. One circuit of Mars occupies 887
days. More than 9,000 years had there
fore elapsed since the first invasion of
the earth by the Martians.
But from these speculations and re
trospects we were recalled by the com
mander of the expedition.
"This is all very interesting and very
romantic gentlemen," he said, "but
now let us get at the practical side of
it. We have learned Alna's language,
and have heard her story. Let us next
ascertain whether she cannot place in
our hands some key which will put
Mars at our mercy. Remember what
we came here for, and remember that
the earth expects every man of us to
do his duty."
This Nelson-like summons again
changed the current of our thoughts,
and we instantly set to work to learn
from Aina if Mars, like Achilles, had
not some vulnerable point where a blow
would be mortal.
XXI.
It was a curious scene when the
momentous interview which was to de
termine our late and that of Mars be
gan. Aina had been warned of what
was coming. We in the Il.tgship had
all learned to speak her language with
more or less ease, but it was deemed
best that the Heidelberg professor, as
sisted by one of his colleagues, should
act as interpreter.
The girl, flushed with the excitement
ot the novel situation, fully apprecia
ting the importance of what was about
to occur, and looking more charming
than before, stood at. one side of the
principal apartment. Directly facing
her were the interpreters, and the rest
of us, all with ears alert, and eyes fo
cused upon Aina, stood in a double row
behind them.
As heretofore, I am setting down her
words translated into our own tongue,
having taken only as much liberty as
to connect the sentences into a stricter
sequence than they had when falling
from her lips in reply to the questions
that were showered upon her.
"You will never be victorious," she
said, "if you attack them openly as
you have been doing. They are too
strong and too numerous. They are
well prepared for such attacks, be
cause they have had to resist them be
fore. Their enemies from Ceres have
attacked them here."
"But there must be some point," said
Mr. Edison, "where we can."
"Yes, yes," interrupted the girl
quickly, "there is one blow you can deal
them which they could not with
stand."
"What is that?" eagerly Inquired the
commander.
"You can drown them out."
"How? With the canals?"
"Yes, I will explain to you. I have
already told you, and, in fact, you must
have seen it for yourselves, that there
are almost no mountains on Mars. A
very learned man of my race used to
say that the reason was because Mars
is so very old a world that the moun
tains it once had have been almost
completely leveled, and the entire sur
face of the planet has become a great
plain. There are depressions, however,
most of which are occupied by the seas.
The greater part of the land lies below
the level of the oceans, ln order at the
same time to irrigate the soil and make
it fruitful and to protect themselves
from overflows by the ocean's breaking
in upon them, the Martians have con
structed the immense and innumerable
canals which you see running in all di
rections over the continents.
"There is one period of the year, and
that period has now arrived, when
there is special danger of a great de
luge. Most of the oceans of Mars lie
in the southern hemisphere. When it
is summer in that hemisphere, the
great masses of ice and snow collected
around the south pole melt rapidly
away.
"Yes, that Is so," broke in one of our
astronomers, who was listening atten
tively. "Many a time I have seen the
vast snow fields around the southern
pole of Mars completely disappear
as the summer sun rose high upon
them."
"With the melting, of these snows,"
continued Aina, "a rapid rise in the
level of the water ln the southern
oceans occur 3. On the side facing these
oceans the continents of Mars are
sufficiently elevated to prevent an
overflow, but nearer the equator the
level of the land Kinks lower.
"With your telescopes you have no
doubt noticed that there is a great
bending sea connecting the oceans of
the south with those of the north and
running through the midst of the con
tinents."
"Quite so," said the astronomer who
had spoken before, "we call it the
Syrtls Major."
"That long narrow sea," Aina went
on, "forms a great channel through
which the flood of waters caused by
the melting of the southern polar
snows flows swiftly toward the equa
tor and then on toward the north until
it reaches the sea basins which c xist
there. At that point it is rapidly turned
Into ice and snow, because, of course,
while it is summer in the Southern
hemisphere it is winter in the north
ern.
"The Syrtis Major (I am giving our
name to the channel of communcatlon
in place of that by which the girl called
it) is like a great safety valve, which,
by permitting the waters to flow north
ward, saves the continents from inun
dation.
"But when mid-summer arrives, the
snows around the pole having been
completely melted away, the flood
ceases, and the water begins to recede.
At this time, but for a device which
the Martians have employed, the
canals connected with the oceans
would run dry, and the vegetation, left
without moisture under the summer
sun, would quickly perish,"
"To prevent this they have built a
series of enormous gates extending
completely across the Syrtis Major at
its narrowest pednt (latitude 25 degrees,
south). These gates are all controlled
by machinery collected at a single
point on the shore of the strait. As
soon as the flood in the Syrtis Major
begins to recede the gates are closed,
and, the water being thus retained, the
irrigating canals are kept full long
enough to mature the harvests."
"The clue! The clue at last!" ex
claimed Mr. Edison. "That is the place
where we shall nip them. If we can
close those gates now at the moment
of high tide we shall Hood the country.
Did you say," he continued, turning to
Aina, "that the movement of the gates
was all controlled from a single point?"
"Yes," said the girl. "There is a
great building (power house) full of
tremendous machinery, which I once
entered when my father was taken
there by his master, and where I saw
one Martian, by turning a little handle,
cause the great line of pvates stretching
a hundred miles across the sea, to
slowly shut in, edge to edge, until the
flow of the water toward the north had
been stopped."
"How is this building protected?"
"So completely," replied Aina, "that
my only fear is you may not be able to
reach it. On account of the danger
from their enemies in Ceres, the Mar
tians have fortified it strongly on all
sides, and have even surrounded it and
covered it overhead with a great elec
tric network, to touch which would be
instant death."
"Ah," said Mr. Edison, "they have
got an electric shield, have they? Well,
I think we shall be able to manage
that.
"Anyhow," he continued, "we have
got to get into that power house, and
we have got to close those gates, and
we must not lose much time In making
up our minds how it is to be done.
Evidently this is our only chance. We
have not force enough to contend in
open battle with the Martians, but if
we can flood them out, and thereby
render the engines contained in their
fortifications useless, perhaps we shall
be able to deal with the airships, which
will be all the means of defence that
will then remain to them."
This idea commended itself to all the
leaders of the expedition. It was de
termined to make a reconnaissance at
once.
But it would not do for us to ap
proach the planet too hastily and we
certainly could not think of landing
upon it in broad daylight. Still, as
long as we were yet at a considerable
distance from Mars, we felt that we
should be safe from observation, be
cause so much time had elapsed while
we were hidden behind Deimos that
the Martians had undoubtedly conclud
ed that we were no longer in existence.
So we boldly quitted the little satel
lite with our entire squadron and once
more rapidly approached the red planet
of war. This time it was to be a death
grapple and our chances of victory still
seemed good.
As soon as we arrived so near the
planet that there was danger of our
being actually seen, we took pains to
keep continually in the shadow of
Mars, and the more surely to conceal
our presence all lights upon the ships
were extinguished. The precaution of
the commander even went so far as to
have the smooth metallic sides of the
cars blackened over so that they should
not reflect light and thus become visi
ble to the Martians as shining
specks, moving suspiciously among the
stars.
The precise locaton of the great pow
er house on the shores of the Syrtis
Major having been carefully ascer
tained, the squadron dropped clown one
night into the upuer limits of the Mar
tian atmosphere, directly over the
gulf.
Then a consultation was called on
the flagship and a plan of compaign
was quickly devised.
It was deemed wise that the attempt
should be made with a single electrical
ship, but that the others should be
kept hovering near, ready to respond
on the instant to any signal for aid
which might come from below. It was
thought that, notwithstanding the
wonderful defences, which, according
to Ainu's account, surrounded the
building, a small party would have a
better chance of success than a large
one.
Mr. Edison was certain that the elec
trical network which was described as
covering the power house would not
prove a serious obstruction to us, be
cause by carefullywsweeping the space
where we intended to pass with the
disintegrators before quitting the ship,
the netting could be sufficiently cleared
away to give us uninterrupted pas
sage.
At first the Intention was to have
twenty men, each armed with two dis
integrators, (that being the largest
number that one person could carry to
advantage) descend from the electrical
ship and make the venture. But, after
further discussion, this number was re
duced; first to a dozen, and finally, to
only four. These four consisted of Mr.
Edison, Colonel Smith, Mr. Sidney Phil
lips and myself.
Both by her own request and because
we could not help feeling that her
knowledge of the locality would be in
dispensable to us, Aina was also in
cluded in our party, but not, of course,
as a lighting member of it.
It was about an hour after midnight
when the ship in which we were to
make the venture parted from the re
mainder of the squadron and dropped
cautiously clown. The blaze of electrio
lights running away in various direc
tions indicated the lines of innumerable
canals, with habitations crowded along
their banks, which came to a focus at
a point on the continent of Aina, west
ward from the Syrtis Major.
We stopped the electrical ship at an
elevation of perhaps three hundred feet
above the vast roof of a structure,
which Aina assured us was the build
ing we were in search of.
Here we remained for a few minutes,
cautiously reconnoitering. On that
side of the power house which was op
posite to the shore of the Syrtis Major
there was a thick grove of trees, lighted
beneath, as was apparent from the il
lumination, which here and there
streamed up through the cover of
leaves, but, nevertheless, dark and
gloomy above the tree tops.
"The electric network extends over
the grove as well as over the bulding,"
said Aina.
This was lucky for us, because we
wished to descend among the trees,
and, by destroying part of the network
over the tree tops, we could reach the
shelter wo desired and at the same
time pass within the line of electric de
fences.
With increased caution, and almost
holding our breath lest we should make
some noise that might reach the ears
of the sentinels beneath, we caused the
car to settle gently down until we
caught sight of a metallic net stretched
in the air between us and the
trees.
After our first encounter with the
Martians on the asteroid, where, as I
have related, some metal which was in
cluded in their dress resisted the action
of the disintegrators. Mr. Edison had
readjusted the range of vibrations cov
ered by the instruments, and since then
we had found nothing that did not
yield to them. Consequently, we had
no fear that the metal of the network
Would not be destroyed.
There was danger, however, of arous
ing attention by shattering holes
through the tree tops. This could be
avoided by first carefully ascertaining
how far away the network was, and
then with the adjustable mirrors at
tached to the disintegrators focusing
the vibratory discharge at that dis
tance.
So successful were we that we opened
a considerable gap in the network
without doing any perceptible damage
to the trees beneath.
The ship was cautiously lowered
through the opening and brought to
rest among the upper branches of one
of the tallest trees. Colonel Smith,
Mr. Phillips, Mr. Edison and my
self at once clambered out upon a
strong limb.
For a moment I feared our arrival
had been betrayed on account of the
altogether too noisy contest that arose
between Colonel Smith and Mr. Phil
lips as to which of them should assist
Aina. To settle the dispute I took
charge of her myself.
At length we were all safely in the
tree.
Then followed the still more danger
ous undertaking of descending from
this great height to the ground. For
tunately, the branches were very close
together and they extended down with
in a short distance of the soil. So the
actual difficulties of the descent were
not very great after all. The one thing
that we had particularly to bear In
mind was the absolute necessity of
making no noise.
At length the descent was succesfully
accomplished, and we all five stood
together in the shadow at the foot of
the great tree. The grove was so thick
around that while there was an abund
ance of electric lights among the trees,
their illumination did not fall up <n us
where we stood.
Peering cautiously through the vistas
In various directions we ascertained
our location with respect to the wait
of the bulding. Like all the structures
that we had seen on Mars, it was com
posed of polished red metal.
"Where is the entrance?" Inquired
Mr. Edison in a whisper.
"Come softly this way, and look out
for the sentinel," replied Aina.
Gripping our disintegrators firmly,
and screwing up our courage, with
noiseless steps we followed the girl
among the shadows of the trees
TO BE CONTINUED.
The Best Man at a Wedding.
During the old days of Sweden there
were" several best men, and the terra
was applied in its full literal sense.
The duty of the best men in those times
was to defend the groom and his pros
pective bride from a rival, who, accom
panied by several retainers, was sure
to appear while the wedding procession
was on its way to church and make a
stubborn light for possession of the wo
man.
The Scandinavian warrior considered
it beneath his dignity to court a maid
en's favor by gallantry and submis
sion, and therefore generally preferred
to wait until she was on her way to be
married to another man, when the at
tempt was made to carry her off by
main strength. It was then that the
best men—if they were the best men
came into good play. Hence the custom
is still preserved in the "best" man of
to-day.
Smallest Book in the World,
A book small enough to about cover
the thumb nail of a man would be a
curiosity in any circumstances, but
when it is the smallest volume in the
world it is easy to understand why it
is very valuable. This mite of a book
is five-eighths of an inch long, seven
sixteenths of an inch wide and three
eighths of an inch thick. It has 205
pages of closely printed matter. The
letters are so small that a pin point
would obscure one of them, and a mag
nifying glass is necessary to enable
one to read them.
The type of the title page Is about
the size of this that you are now read
ing. The book weighs about a quar
ter of an ounce and is valued at $750,
which makes it worth more than its
weight in gold. It was printed in
Italy, in the town of Padua, and on the
Salmln press.
Brushes From China,
A large proportion of the hog bristles
that are made into brushes of all sorts
are obtained from China. Before
Chinese ports were opened to foreign
ers the residents of China made no use
of the bristles, but now they have be
come one of the important exports.
The hog bristles used in making fine
brushes are usually not less than three
inches long, but the black Tien-Tsln
bristles of north China are often more
than twice that length, and are famous
the world over. The animals from
which the black bristles are - taken
closely resemble the wild boar of Eu
rope,

xml | txt