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´╗┐Title: The Coming Race
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Coming Race" ***

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THE COMING RACE

by Edward Bulwer, Lord Lytton



Chapter I.


I am a native of _____, in the United States of America. My ancestors
migrated from England in the reign of Charles II.; and my grandfather
was not undistinguished in the War of Independence. My family,
therefore, enjoyed a somewhat high social position in right of birth;
and being also opulent, they were considered disqualified for the public
service. My father once ran for Congress, but was signally defeated by
his tailor. After that event he interfered little in politics, and lived
much in his library. I was the eldest of three sons, and sent at the age
of sixteen to the old country, partly to complete my literary education,
partly to commence my commercial training in a mercantile firm at
Liverpool. My father died shortly after I was twenty-one; and being left
well off, and having a taste for travel and adventure, I resigned, for
a time, all pursuit of the almighty dollar, and became a desultory
wanderer over the face of the earth.

In the year 18__, happening to be in _____, I was invited by a
professional engineer, with whom I had made acquaintance, to visit the
recesses of the ________ mine, upon which he was employed.

The reader will understand, ere he close this narrative, my reason for
concealing all clue to the district of which I write, and will perhaps
thank me for refraining from any description that may tend to its
discovery.

Let me say, then, as briefly as possible, that I accompanied the
engineer into the interior of the mine, and became so strangely
fascinated by its gloomy wonders, and so interested in my friend\x92s
explorations, that I prolonged my stay in the neighbourhood, and
descended daily, for some weeks, into the vaults and galleries hollowed
by nature and art beneath the surface of the earth. The engineer was
persuaded that far richer deposits of mineral wealth than had yet been
detected, would be found in a new shaft that had been commenced under
his operations. In piercing this shaft we came one day upon a chasm
jagged and seemingly charred at the sides, as if burst asunder at some
distant period by volcanic fires. Down this chasm my friend caused
himself to be lowered in a \x91cage,\x92 having first tested the atmosphere
by the safety-lamp. He remained nearly an hour in the abyss. When he
returned he was very pale, and with an anxious, thoughtful expression
of face, very different from its ordinary character, which was open,
cheerful, and fearless.

He said briefly that the descent appeared to him unsafe, and leading to
no result; and, suspending further operations in the shaft, we returned
to the more familiar parts of the mine.

All the rest of that day the engineer seemed preoccupied by some
absorbing thought. He was unusually taciturn, and there was a scared,
bewildered look in his eyes, as that of a man who has seen a ghost. At
night, as we two were sitting alone in the lodging we shared together
near the mouth of the mine, I said to my friend,--

\x93Tell me frankly what you saw in that chasm: I am sure it was something
strange and terrible. Whatever it be, it has left your mind in a state
of doubt. In such a case two heads are better than one. Confide in me.\x94


The engineer long endeavoured to evade my inquiries; but as, while he
spoke, he helped himself unconsciously out of the brandy-flask to a
degree to which he was wholly unaccustomed, for he was a very temperate
man, his reserve gradually melted away. He who would keep himself to
himself should imitate the dumb animals, and drink water. At last he
said, \x93I will tell you all. When the cage stopped, I found myself on
a ridge of rock; and below me, the chasm, taking a slanting direction,
shot down to a considerable depth, the darkness of which my lamp could
not have penetrated. But through it, to my infinite surprise, streamed
upward a steady brilliant light. Could it be any volcanic fire? In that
case, surely I should have felt the heat. Still, if on this there was
doubt, it was of the utmost importance to our common safety to clear it
up. I examined the sides of the descent, and found that I could venture
to trust myself to the irregular projection of ledges, at least for some
way. I left the cage and clambered down. As I drew nearer and nearer to
the light, the chasm became wider, and at last I saw, to my unspeakable
amaze, a broad level road at the bottom of the abyss, illumined as far
as the eye could reach by what seemed artificial gas-lamps placed at
regular intervals, as in the thoroughfare of a great city; and I heard
confusedly at a distance a hum as of human voices. I know, of course,
that no rival miners are at work in this district. Whose could be those
voices? What human hands could have levelled that road and marshalled
those lamps?

\x93The superstitious belief, common to miners, that gnomes or fiends dwell
within the bowels of the earth, began to seize me. I shuddered at the
thought of descending further and braving the inhabitants of this nether
valley. Nor indeed could I have done so without ropes, as from the spot
I had reached to the bottom of the chasm the sides of the rock sank down
abrupt, smooth, and sheer. I retraced my steps with some difficulty. Now
I have told you all.\x94

\x93You will descend again?\x94

\x93I ought, yet I feel as if I durst not.\x94

\x93A trusty companion halves the journey and doubles the courage. I will
go with you. We will provide ourselves with ropes of suitable length and
strength--and--pardon me--you must not drink more to-night, our hands
and feet must be steady and firm tomorrow.\x94



Chapter II.


With the morning my friend\x92s nerves were rebraced, and he was not
less excited by curiosity than myself. Perhaps more; for he evidently
believed in his own story, and I felt considerable doubt of it; not that
he would have wilfully told an untruth, but that I thought he must have
been under one of those hallucinations which seize on our fancy or our
nerves in solitary, unaccustomed places, and in which we give shape to
the formless and sound to the dumb.

We selected six veteran miners to watch our descent; and as the cage
held only one at a time, the engineer descended first; and when he had
gained the ledge at which he had before halted, the cage rearose for me.
I soon gained his side. We had provided ourselves with a strong coil of
rope.

The light struck on my sight as it had done the day before on my
friend\x92s. The hollow through which it came sloped diagonally: it seemed
to me a diffused atmospheric light, not like that from fire, but soft
and silvery, as from a northern star. Quitting the cage, we descended,
one after the other, easily enough, owing to the juts in the side, till
we reached the place at which my friend had previously halted, and which
was a projection just spacious enough to allow us to stand abreast. From
this spot the chasm widened rapidly like the lower end of a vast funnel,
and I saw distinctly the valley, the road, the lamps which my companion
had described. He had exaggerated nothing. I heard the sounds he had
heard--a mingled indescribable hum as of voices and a dull tramp as of
feet. Straining my eye farther down, I clearly beheld at a distance the
outline of some large building. It could not be mere natural rock, it
was too symmetrical, with huge heavy Egyptian-like columns, and the
whole lighted as from within. I had about me a small pocket-telescope,
and by the aid of this, I could distinguish, near the building I
mention, two forms which seemed human, though I could not be sure. At
least they were living, for they moved, and both vanished within the
building. We now proceeded to attach the end of the rope we had brought
with us to the ledge on which we stood, by the aid of clamps and
grappling hooks, with which, as well as with necessary tools, we were
provided.

We were almost silent in our work. We toiled like men afraid to speak to
each other. One end of the rope being thus apparently made firm to the
ledge, the other, to which we fastened a fragment of the rock, rested on
the ground below, a distance of some fifty feet. I was a younger man and
a more active man than my companion, and having served on board ship in
my boyhood, this mode of transit was more familiar to me than to him. In
a whisper I claimed the precedence, so that when I gained the ground I
might serve to hold the rope more steady for his descent. I got safely
to the ground beneath, and the engineer now began to lower himself.
But he had scarcely accomplished ten feet of the descent, when the
fastenings, which we had fancied so secure, gave way, or rather the
rock itself proved treacherous and crumbled beneath the strain; and the
unhappy man was precipitated to the bottom, falling just at my feet,
and bringing down with his fall splinters of the rock, one of which,
fortunately but a small one, struck and for the time stunned me. When I
recovered my senses I saw my companion an inanimate mass beside me,
life utterly extinct. While I was bending over his corpse in grief and
horror, I heard close at hand a strange sound between a snort and a
hiss; and turning instinctively to the quarter from which it came, I saw
emerging from a dark fissure in the rock a vast and terrible head,
with open jaws and dull, ghastly, hungry eyes--the head of a monstrous
reptile resembling that of the crocodile or alligator, but infinitely
larger than the largest creature of that kind I had ever beheld in my
travels. I started to my feet and fled down the valley at my utmost
speed. I stopped at last, ashamed of my panic and my flight, and
returned to the spot on which I had left the body of my friend. It
was gone; doubtless the monster had already drawn it into its den and
devoured it. The rope and the grappling-hooks still lay where they had
fallen, but they afforded me no chance of return; it was impossible to
re-attach them to the rock above, and the sides of the rock were too
sheer and smooth for human steps to clamber. I was alone in this strange
world, amidst the bowels of the earth.



Chapter III.


Slowly and cautiously I went my solitary way down the lamplit road and
towards the large building I have described. The road itself seemed like
a great Alpine pass, skirting rocky mountains of which the one through
whose chasm I had descended formed a link. Deep below to the left lay
a vast valley, which presented to my astonished eye the unmistakeable
evidences of art and culture. There were fields covered with a strange
vegetation, similar to none I have seen above the earth; the colour of
it not green, but rather of a dull and leaden hue or of a golden red.

There were lakes and rivulets which seemed to have been curved into
artificial banks; some of pure water, others that shone like pools of
naphtha. At my right hand, ravines and defiles opened amidst the rocks,
with passes between, evidently constructed by art, and bordered by trees
resembling, for the most part, gigantic ferns, with exquisite varieties
of feathery foliage, and stems like those of the palm-tree. Others were
more like the cane-plant, but taller, bearing large clusters of flowers.
Others, again, had the form of enormous fungi, with short thick stems
supporting a wide dome-like roof, from which either rose or drooped long
slender branches. The whole scene behind, before, and beside me far as
the eye could reach, was brilliant with innumerable lamps. The world
without a sun was bright and warm as an Italian landscape at noon, but
the air less oppressive, the heat softer. Nor was the scene before me
void of signs of habitation. I could distinguish at a distance, whether
on the banks of the lake or rivulet, or half-way upon eminences,
embedded amidst the vegetation, buildings that must surely be the homes
of men. I could even discover, though far off, forms that appeared to
me human moving amidst the landscape. As I paused to gaze, I saw to
the right, gliding quickly through the air, what appeared a small
boat, impelled by sails shaped like wings. It soon passed out of sight,
descending amidst the shades of a forest. Right above me there was no
sky, but only a cavernous roof. This roof grew higher and higher at the
distance of the landscapes beyond, till it became imperceptible, as an
atmosphere of haze formed itself beneath.

Continuing my walk, I started,--from a bush that resembled a great
tangle of sea-weeds, interspersed with fern-like shrubs and plants of
large leafage shaped like that of the aloe or prickly-pear,--a curious
animal about the size and shape of a deer. But as, after bounding away
a few paces, it turned round and gazed at me inquisitively, I perceived
that it was not like any species of deer now extant above the earth,
but it brought instantly to my recollection a plaster cast I had seen
in some museum of a variety of the elk stag, said to have existed before
the Deluge. The creature seemed tame enough, and, after inspecting me a
moment or two, began to graze on the singular herbiage around undismayed
and careless.



Chapter IV.


I now came in full sight of the building. Yes, it had been made by
hands, and hollowed partly out of a great rock. I should have supposed
it at the first glance to have been of the earliest form of Egyptian
architecture. It was fronted by huge columns, tapering upward from
massive plinths, and with capitals that, as I came nearer, I perceived
to be more ornamental and more fantastically graceful that Egyptian
architecture allows. As the Corinthian capital mimics the leaf of the
acanthus, so the capitals of these columns imitated the foliage of the
vegetation neighbouring them, some aloe-like, some fern-like. And now
there came out of this building a form--human;--was it human? It stood
on the broad way and looked around, beheld me and approached. It
came within a few yards of me, and at the sight and presence of it an
indescribable awe and tremor seized me, rooting my feet to the ground.
It reminded me of symbolical images of Genius or Demon that are seen on
Etruscan vases or limned on the walls of Eastern sepulchres--images that
borrow the outlines of man, and are yet of another race. It was tall,
not gigantic, but tall as the tallest man below the height of giants.

Its chief covering seemed to me to be composed of large wings folded
over its breast and reaching to its knees; the rest of its attire was
composed of an under tunic and leggings of some thin fibrous material.
It wore on its head a kind of tiara that shone with jewels, and carried
in its right hand a slender staff of bright metal like polished steel.
But the face! it was that which inspired my awe and my terror. It was
the face of man, but yet of a type of man distinct from our known extant
races. The nearest approach to it in outline and expression is the
face of the sculptured sphinx--so regular in its calm, intellectual,
mysterious beauty. Its colour was peculiar, more like that of the red
man than any other variety of our species, and yet different from it--a
richer and a softer hue, with large black eyes, deep and brilliant, and
brows arched as a semicircle. The face was beardless; but a nameless
something in the aspect, tranquil though the expression, and beauteous
though the features, roused that instinct of danger which the sight of
a tiger or serpent arouses. I felt that this manlike image was endowed
with forces inimical to man. As it drew near, a cold shudder came over
me. I fell on my knees and covered my face with my hands.



Chapter V.


A voice accosted me--a very quiet and very musical key of voice--in a
language of which I could not understand a word, but it served to
dispel my fear. I uncovered my face and looked up. The stranger (I could
scarcely bring myself to call him man) surveyed me with an eye that
seemed to read to the very depths of my heart. He then placed his left
hand on my forehead, and with the staff in his right, gently touched my
shoulder. The effect of this double contact was magical. In place of my
former terror there passed into me a sense of contentment, of joy, of
confidence in myself and in the being before me. I rose and spoke in
my own language. He listened to me with apparent attention, but with a
slight surprise in his looks; and shook his head, as if to signify that
I was not understood. He then took me by the hand and led me in silence
to the building. The entrance was open--indeed there was no door to it.
We entered an immense hall, lighted by the same kind of lustre as in the
scene without, but diffusing a fragrant odour. The floor was in large
tesselated blocks of precious metals, and partly covered with a sort of
matlike carpeting. A strain of low music, above and around, undulated as
if from invisible instruments, seeming to belong naturally to the place,
just as the sound of murmuring waters belongs to a rocky landscape, or
the warble of birds to vernal groves.

A figure in a simpler garb than that of my guide, but of similar
fashion, was standing motionless near the threshold. My guide touched
it twice with his staff, and it put itself into a rapid and gliding
movement, skimming noiselessly over the floor. Gazing on it, I then saw
that it was no living form, but a mechanical automaton. It might be two
minutes after it vanished through a doorless opening, half screened by
curtains at the other end of the hall, when through the same opening
advanced a boy of about twelve years old, with features closely
resembling those of my guide, so that they seemed to me evidently son
and father. On seeing me the child uttered a cry, and lifted a staff
like that borne by my guide, as if in menace. At a word from the elder
he dropped it. The two then conversed for some moments, examining me
while they spoke. The child touched my garments, and stroked my face
with evident curiosity, uttering a sound like a laugh, but with an
hilarity more subdued that the mirth of our laughter. Presently the roof
of the hall opened, and a platform descended, seemingly constructed
on the same principle as the \x91lifts\x92 used in hotels and warehouses for
mounting from one story to another.

The stranger placed himself and the child on the platform, and motioned
to me to do the same, which I did. We ascended quickly and safely, and
alighted in the midst of a corridor with doorways on either side.

Through one of these doorways I was conducted into a chamber fitted up
with an oriental splendour; the walls were tesselated with spars, and
metals, and uncut jewels; cushions and divans abounded; apertures as for
windows but unglazed, were made in the chamber opening to the floor;
and as I passed along I observed that these openings led into spacious
balconies, and commanded views of the illumined landscape without. In
cages suspended from the ceiling there were birds of strange form and
bright plumage, which at our entrance set up a chorus of song, modulated
into tune as is that of our piping bullfinches. A delicious fragrance,
from censers of gold elaborately sculptured, filled the air. Several
automata, like the one I had seen, stood dumb and motionless by the
walls. The stranger placed me beside him on a divan and again spoke
to me, and again I spoke, but without the least advance towards
understanding each other.

But now I began to feel the effects of the blow I had received from the
splinters of the falling rock more acutely that I had done at first.

There came over me a sense of sickly faintness, accompanied with acute,
lancinating pains in the head and neck. I sank back on the seat and
strove in vain to stifle a groan. On this the child, who had hitherto
seemed to eye me with distrust or dislike, knelt by my side to support
me; taking one of my hands in both his own, he approached his lips to
my forehead, breathing on it softly. In a few moments my pain ceased; a
drowsy, heavy calm crept over me; I fell asleep.

How long I remained in this state I know not, but when I woke I felt
perfectly restored. My eyes opened upon a group of silent forms, seated
around me in the gravity and quietude of Orientals--all more or less
like the first stranger; the same mantling wings, the same fashion of
garment, the same sphinx-like faces, with the deep dark eyes and red
man\x92s colour; above all, the same type of race--race akin to man\x92s, but
infinitely stronger of form and grandeur of aspect--and inspiring the
same unutterable feeling of dread. Yet each countenance was mild and
tranquil, and even kindly in expression. And, strangely enough, it
seemed to me that in this very calm and benignity consisted the secret
of the dread which the countenances inspired. They seemed as void of the
lines and shadows which care and sorrow, and passion and sin, leave upon
the faces of men, as are the faces of sculptured gods, or as, in the
eyes of Christian mourners, seem the peaceful brows of the dead.

I felt a warm hand on my shoulder; it was the child\x92s. In his eyes there
was a sort of lofty pity and tenderness, such as that with which we may
gaze on some suffering bird or butterfly. I shrank from that touch--I
shrank from that eye. I was vaguely impressed with a belief that, had he
so pleased, that child could have killed me as easily as a man can kill
a bird or a butterfly. The child seemed pained at my repugnance, quitted
me, and placed himself beside one of the windows. The others continued
to converse with each other in a low tone, and by their glances towards
me I could perceive that I was the object of their conversation. One
in especial seemed to be urging some proposal affecting me on the being
whom I had first met, and this last by his gesture seemed about to
assent to it, when the child suddenly quitted his post by the window,
placed himself between me and the other forms, as if in protection, and
spoke quickly and eagerly. By some intuition or instinct I felt that
the child I had before so dreaded was pleading in my behalf. Ere he had
ceased another stranger entered the room. He appeared older than the
rest, though not old; his countenance less smoothly serene than theirs,
though equally regular in its features, seemed to me to have more the
touch of a humanity akin to my own. He listened quietly to the words
addressed to him, first by my guide, next by two others of the group,
and lastly by the child; then turned towards myself, and addressed
me, not by words, but by signs and gestures. These I fancied that I
perfectly understood, and I was not mistaken. I comprehended that he
inquired whence I came. I extended my arm, and pointed towards the road
which had led me from the chasm in the rock; then an idea seized me.
I drew forth my pocket-book, and sketched on one of its blank leaves a
rough design of the ledge of the rock, the rope, myself clinging to it;
then of the cavernous rock below, the head of the reptile, the lifeless
form of my friend. I gave this primitive kind of hieroglyph to my
interrogator, who, after inspecting it gravely, handed it to his next
neighbour, and it thus passed round the group. The being I had at first
encountered then said a few words, and the child, who approached and
looked at my drawing, nodded as if he comprehended its purport, and,
returning to the window, expanded the wings attached to his form, shook
them once or twice, and then launched himself into space without. I
started up in amaze and hastened to the window. The child was already in
the air, buoyed on his wings, which he did not flap to and fro as a
bird does, but which were elevated over his head, and seemed to bear him
steadily aloft without effort of his own. His flight seemed as swift
as an eagle\x92s; and I observed that it was towards the rock whence I
had descended, of which the outline loomed visible in the brilliant
atmosphere. In a very few minutes he returned, skimming through the
opening from which he had gone, and dropping on the floor the rope and
grappling-hooks I had left at the descent from the chasm. Some words in
a low tone passed between the being present; one of the group touched an
automaton, which started forward and glided from the room; then the last
comer, who had addressed me by gestures, rose, took me by the hand,
and led me into the corridor. There the platform by which I had mounted
awaited us; we placed ourselves on it and were lowered into the hall
below. My new companion, still holding me by the hand, conducted me from
the building into a street (so to speak) that stretched beyond it, with
buildings on either side, separated from each other by gardens bright
with rich-coloured vegetation and strange flowers. Interspersed amidst
these gardens, which were divided from each other by low walls, or
walking slowly along the road, were many forms similar to those I had
already seen. Some of the passers-by, on observing me, approached my
guide, evidently by their tones, looks, and gestures addressing to him
inquiries about myself. In a few moments a crowd collected around us,
examining me with great interest, as if I were some rare wild animal.
Yet even in gratifying their curiosity they preserved a grave and
courteous demeanour; and after a few words from my guide, who seemed to
me to deprecate obstruction in our road, they fell back with a
stately inclination of head, and resumed their own way with tranquil
indifference. Midway in this thoroughfare we stopped at a building that
differed from those we had hitherto passed, inasmuch as it formed three
sides of a vast court, at the angles of which were lofty pyramidal
towers; in the open space between the sides was a circular fountain of
colossal dimensions, and throwing up a dazzling spray of what seemed to
me fire. We entered the building through an open doorway and came
into an enormous hall, in which were several groups of children, all
apparently employed in work as at some great factory. There was a huge
engine in the wall which was in full play, with wheels and cylinders
resembling our own steam-engines, except that it was richly ornamented
with precious stones and metals, and appeared to emanate a pale
phosphorescent atmosphere of shifting light. Many of the children were
at some mysterious work on this machinery, others were seated before
tables. I was not allowed to linger long enough to examine into the
nature of their employment. Not one young voice was heard--not one young
face turned to gaze on us. They were all still and indifferent as may
be ghosts, through the midst of which pass unnoticed the forms of the
living.

Quitting this hall, my guide led me through a gallery richly painted
in compartments, with a barbaric mixture of gold in the colours,
like pictures by Louis Cranach. The subjects described on these walls
appeared to my glance as intended to illustrate events in the history of
the race amidst which I was admitted. In all there were figures, most
of them like the manlike creatures I had seen, but not all in the same
fashion of garb, nor all with wings. There were also the effigies
of various animals and birds, wholly strange to me, with backgrounds
depicting landscapes or buildings. So far as my imperfect knowledge of
the pictorial art would allow me to form an opinion, these paintings
seemed very accurate in design and very rich in colouring, showing
a perfect knowledge of perspective, but their details not
arranged according to the rules of composition acknowledged by our
artists--wanting, as it were, a centre; so that the effect was vague,
scattered, confused, bewildering--they were like heterogeneous fragments
of a dream of art.

We now came into a room of moderate size, in which was assembled what I
afterwards knew to be the family of my guide, seated at a table spread
as for repast. The forms thus grouped were those of my guide\x92s wife, his
daughter, and two sons. I recognised at once the difference between
the two sexes, though the two females were of taller stature and ampler
proportions than the males; and their countenances, if still more
symmetrical in outline and contour, were devoid of the softness and
timidity of expression which give charm to the face of woman as seen on
the earth above. The wife wore no wings, the daughter wore wings longer
than those of the males.

My guide uttered a few words, on which all the persons seated rose,
and with that peculiar mildness of look and manner which I have before
noticed, and which is, in truth, the common attribute of this formidable
race, they saluted me according to their fashion, which consists in
laying the right hand very gently on the head and uttering a soft
sibilant monosyllable--S.Si, equivalent to \x93Welcome.\x94

The mistress of the house then seated me beside her, and heaped a golden
platter before me from one of the dishes.

While I ate (and though the viands were new to me, I marvelled more
at the delicacy than the strangeness of their flavour), my companions
conversed quietly, and, so far as I could detect, with polite avoidance
of any direct reference to myself, or any obtrusive scrutiny of my
appearance. Yet I was the first creature of that variety of the human
race to which I belong that they had ever beheld, and was consequently
regarded by them as a most curious and abnormal phenomenon. But all
rudeness is unknown to this people, and the youngest child is taught to
despise any vehement emotional demonstration. When the meal was ended,
my guide again took me by the hand, and, re-entering the gallery,
touched a metallic plate inscribed with strange figures, and which I
rightly conjectured to be of the nature of our telegraphs. A platform
descended, but this time we mounted to a much greater height than in the
former building, and found ourselves in a room of moderate dimensions,
and which in its general character had much that might be familiar to
the associations of a visitor from the upper world. There were shelves
on the wall containing what appeared to be books, and indeed were so;
mostly very small, like our diamond duodecimos, shaped in the fashion
of our volumes, and bound in sheets of fine metal. There were several
curious-looking pieces of mechanism scattered about, apparently models,
such as might be seen in the study of any professional mechanician. Four
automata (mechanical contrivances which, with these people, answer the
ordinary purposes of domestic service) stood phantom-like at each angle
in the wall. In a recess was a low couch, or bed with pillows. A window,
with curtains of some fibrous material drawn aside, opened upon a large
balcony. My host stepped out into the balcony; I followed him. We were
on the uppermost story of one of the angular pyramids; the view beyond
was of a wild and solemn beauty impossible to describe:--the vast
ranges of precipitous rock which formed the distant background, the
intermediate valleys of mystic many-coloured herbiage, the flash of
waters, many of them like streams of roseate flame, the serene lustre
diffused over all by myriads of lamps, combined to form a whole of which
no words of mine can convey adequate description; so splendid was it,
yet so sombre; so lovely, yet so awful.

But my attention was soon diverted from these nether landscapes.
Suddenly there arose, as from the streets below, a burst of joyous
music; then a winged form soared into the space; another as if in chase
of the first, another and another; others after others, till the crowd
grew thick and the number countless. But how describe the fantastic
grace of these forms in their undulating movements! They appeared
engaged in some sport or amusement; now forming into opposite squadrons;
now scattering; now each group threading the other, soaring, descending,
interweaving, severing; all in measured time to the music below, as if
in the dance of the fabled Peri.

I turned my gaze on my host in a feverish wonder. I ventured to place my
hand on the large wings that lay folded on his breast, and in doing so a
slight shock as of electricity passed through me. I recoiled in fear;
my host smiled, and as if courteously to gratify my curiosity, slowly
expanded his pinions. I observed that his garment beneath them became
dilated as a bladder that fills with air. The arms seemed to slide
into the wings, and in another moment he had launched himself into the
luminous atmosphere, and hovered there, still, and with outspread wings,
as an eagle that basks in the sun. Then, rapidly as an eagle swoops, he
rushed downwards into the midst of one of the groups, skimming through
the midst, and as suddenly again soaring aloft. Thereon, three forms,
in one of which I thought to recognise my host\x92s daughter, detached
themselves from the rest, and followed him as a bird sportively follows
a bird. My eyes, dazzled with the lights and bewildered by the throngs,
ceased to distinguish the gyrations and evolutions of these winged
playmates, till presently my host re-emerged from the crowd and alighted
at my side.

The strangeness of all I had seen began now to operate fast on my
senses; my mind itself began to wander. Though not inclined to be
superstitious, nor hitherto believing that man could be brought into
bodily communication with demons, I felt the terror and the wild
excitement with which, in the Gothic ages, a traveller might have
persuaded himself that he witnessed a \x91sabbat\x92 of fiends and witches.
I have a vague recollection of having attempted with vehement
gesticulation, and forms of exorcism, and loud incoherent words, to
repel my courteous and indulgent host; of his mild endeavors to calm and
soothe me; of his intelligent conjecture that my fright and bewilderment
were occasioned by the difference of form and movement between us which
the wings that had excited my marvelling curiosity had, in exercise,
made still more strongly perceptible; of the gentle smile with which he
had sought to dispel my alarm by dropping the wings to the ground and
endeavouring to show me that they were but a mechanical contrivance.
That sudden transformation did but increase my horror, and as extreme
fright often shows itself by extreme daring, I sprang at his throat like
a wild beast. On an instant I was felled to the ground as by an electric
shock, and the last confused images floating before my sight ere I
became wholly insensible, were the form of my host kneeling beside
me with one hand on my forehead, and the beautiful calm face of his
daughter, with large, deep, inscrutable eyes intently fixed upon my own.



Chapter VI.


I remained in this unconscious state, as I afterwards learned, for many
days, even for some weeks according to our computation of time. When
I recovered I was in a strange room, my host and all his family were
gathered round me, and to my utter amaze my host\x92s daughter accosted me
in my own language with a slightly foreign accent.

\x93How do you feel?\x94 she asked.

It was some moments before I could overcome my surprise enough to falter
out, \x93You know my language? How? Who and what are you?\x94

My host smiled and motioned to one of his sons, who then took from a
table a number of thin metallic sheets on which were traced drawings of
various figures--a house, a tree, a bird, a man, &c.

In these designs I recognised my own style of drawing. Under each figure
was written the name of it in my language, and in my writing; and in
another handwriting a word strange to me beneath it.

Said the host, \x93Thus we began; and my daughter Zee, who belongs to the
College of Sages, has been your instructress and ours too.\x94

Zee then placed before me other metallic sheets, on which, in my
writing, words first, and then sentences, were inscribed. Under each
word and each sentence strange characters in another hand. Rallying my
senses, I comprehended that thus a rude dictionary had been effected.
Had it been done while I was dreaming? \x93That is enough now,\x94 said Zee,
in a tone of command. \x93Repose and take food.\x94



Chapter VII.


A room to myself was assigned to me in this vast edifice. It was
prettily and fantastically arranged, but without any of the splendour
of metal-work or gems which was displayed in the more public apartments.
The walls were hung with a variegated matting made from the stalks and
fibers of plants, and the floor carpeted with the same.

The bed was without curtains, its supports of iron resting on balls of
crystal; the coverings, of a thin white substance resembling cotton.
There were sundry shelves containing books. A curtained recess
communicated with an aviary filled with singing-birds, of which I
did not recognise one resembling those I have seen on earth, except a
beautiful species of dove, though this was distinguished from our doves
by a tall crest of bluish plumes. All these birds had been trained
to sing in artful tunes, and greatly exceeded the skill of our piping
bullfinches, which can rarely achieve more than two tunes, and cannot, I
believe, sing those in concert. One might have supposed one\x92s self at
an opera in listening to the voices in my aviary. There were duets
and trios, and quartetts and choruses, all arranged as in one piece of
music. Did I want silence from the birds? I had but to draw a curtain
over the aviary, and their song hushed as they found themselves left in
the dark. Another opening formed a window, not glazed, but on touching a
spring, a shutter ascended from the floor, formed of some substance
less transparent than glass, but still sufficiently pellucid to allow
a softened view of the scene without. To this window was attached a
balcony, or rather hanging garden, wherein grew many graceful plants
and brilliant flowers. The apartment and its appurtenances had thus a
character, if strange in detail, still familiar, as a whole, to modern
notions of luxury, and would have excited admiration if found attached
to the apartments of an English duchess or a fashionable French author.
Before I arrived this was Zee\x92s chamber; she had hospitably assigned it
to me.

Some hours after the waking up which is described in my last chapter, I
was lying alone on my couch trying to fix my thoughts on conjecture as
to the nature and genus of the people amongst whom I was thrown, when my
host and his daughter Zee entered the room. My host, still speaking
my native language, inquired with much politeness, whether it would be
agreeable to me to converse, or if I preferred solitude. I replied, that
I should feel much honoured and obliged by the opportunity offered me to
express my gratitude for the hospitality and civilities I had received
in a country to which I was a stranger, and to learn enough of its
customs and manners not to offend through ignorance.

As I spoke, I had of course risen from my couch: but Zee, much to my
confusion, curtly ordered me to lie down again, and there was something
in her voice and eye, gentle as both were, that compelled my obedience.
She then seated herself unconcernedly at the foot of my bed, while her
father took his place on a divan a few feet distant.

\x93But what part of the world do you come from?\x94 asked my host, \x93that we
should appear so strange to you and you to us? I have seen individual
specimens of nearly all the races differing from our own, except the
primeval savages who dwell in the most desolate and remote recesses of
uncultivated nature, unacquainted with other light than that they obtain
from volcanic fires, and contented to grope their way in the dark, as do
many creeping, crawling and flying things. But certainly you cannot be a
member of those barbarous tribes, nor, on the other hand, do you seem to
belong to any civilised people.\x94

I was somewhat nettled at this last observation, and replied that I had
the honour to belong to one of the most civilised nations of the earth;
and that, so far as light was concerned, while I admired the ingenuity
and disregard of expense with which my host and his fellow-citizens had
contrived to illumine the regions unpenetrated by the rays of the sun,
yet I could not conceive how any who had once beheld the orbs of heaven
could compare to their lustre the artificial lights invented by the
necessities of man. But my host said he had seen specimens of most of
the races differing from his own, save the wretched barbarians he had
mentioned. Now, was it possible that he had never been on the surface
of the earth, or could he only be referring to communities buried within
its entrails?

My host was for some moments silent; his countenance showed a degree of
surprise which the people of that race very rarely manifest under any
circumstances, howsoever extraordinary. But Zee was more intelligent,
and exclaimed, \x93So you see, my father, that there is truth in the old
tradition; there always is truth in every tradition commonly believed in
all times and by all tribes.\x94

\x93Zee,\x94 said my host mildly, \x93you belong to the College of Sages, and
ought to be wiser than I am; but, as chief of the Light-preserving
Council, it is my duty to take nothing for granted till it is proved to
the evidence of my own senses.\x94 Then, turning to me, he asked me several
questions about the surface of the earth and the heavenly bodies; upon
which, though I answered him to the best of my knowledge, my answers
seemed not to satisfy nor convince him. He shook his head quietly, and,
changing the subject rather abruptly, asked how I had come down from
what he was pleased to call one world to the other. I answered, that
under the surface of the earth there were mines containing minerals,
or metals, essential to our wants and our progress in all arts and
industries; and I then briefly explained the manner in which, while
exploring one of those mines, I and my ill-fated friend had obtained a
glimpse of the regions into which we had descended, and how the descent
had cost him his life; appealing to the rope and grappling-hooks
that the child had brought to the house in which I had been at first
received, as a witness of the truthfulness of my story.

My host then proceeded to question me as to the habits and modes of
life among the races on the upper earth, more especially among those
considered to be the most advanced in that civilisation which he was
pleased to define \x93the art of diffusing throughout a community the
tranquil happiness which belongs to a virtuous and well-ordered
household.\x94 Naturally desiring to represent in the most favourable
colours the world from which I came, I touched but slightly, though
indulgently, on the antiquated and decaying institutions of Europe, in
order to expatiate on the present grandeur and prospective pre-eminence
of that glorious American Republic, in which Europe enviously seeks its
model and tremblingly foresees its doom. Selecting for an example of the
social life of the United States that city in which progress advances
at the fastest rate, I indulged in an animated description of the moral
habits of New York. Mortified to see, by the faces of my listeners, that
I did not make the favourable impression I had anticipated, I elevated
my theme; dwelling on the excellence of democratic institutions, their
promotion of tranquil happiness by the government of party, and the
mode in which they diffused such happiness throughout the community by
preferring, for the exercise of power and the acquisition of honours,
the lowliest citizens in point of property, education, and character.
Fortunately recollecting the peroration of a speech, on the purifying
influences of American democracy and their destined spread over the
world, made by a certain eloquent senator (for whose vote in the Senate
a Railway Company, to which my two brothers belonged, had just paid
20,000 dollars), I wound up by repeating its glowing predictions of the
magnificent future that smiled upon mankind--when the flag of freedom
should float over an entire continent, and two hundred millions of
intelligent citizens, accustomed from infancy to the daily use of
revolvers, should apply to a cowering universe the doctrine of the
Patriot Monroe.

When I had concluded, my host gently shook his head, and fell into a
musing study, making a sign to me and his daughter to remain silent
while he reflected. And after a time he said, in a very earnest and
solemn tone, \x93If you think as you say, that you, though a stranger, have
received kindness at the hands of me and mine, I adjure you to reveal
nothing to any other of our people respecting the world from which you
came, unless, on consideration, I give you permission to do so. Do you
consent to this request?\x94 \x93Of course I pledge my word, to it,\x94 said
I, somewhat amazed; and I extended my right hand to grasp his. But
he placed my hand gently on his forehead and his own right hand on my
breast, which is the custom amongst this race in all matters of promise
or verbal obligations. Then turning to his daughter, he said, \x93And you,
Zee, will not repeat to any one what the stranger has said, or may say,
to me or to you, of a world other than our own.\x94 Zee rose and kissed her
father on the temples, saying, with a smile, \x93A Gy\x92s tongue is wanton,
but love can fetter it fast. And if, my father, you fear lest a chance
word from me or yourself could expose our community to danger, by a
desire to explore a world beyond us, will not a wave of the \x91vril,\x92
properly impelled, wash even the memory of what we have heard the
stranger say out of the tablets of the brain?\x94

\x93What is the vril?\x94 I asked.

Therewith Zee began to enter into an explanation of which I understood
very little, for there is no word in any language I know which is an
exact synonym for vril. I should call it electricity, except that it
comprehends in its manifold branches other forces of nature, to which,
in our scientific nomenclature, differing names are assigned, such as
magnetism, galvanism, &c. These people consider that in vril they have
arrived at the unity in natural energetic agencies, which has been
conjectured by many philosophers above ground, and which Faraday thus
intimates under the more cautious term of correlation:--

\x93I have long held an opinion,\x94 says that illustrious experimentalist,
\x93almost amounting to a conviction, in common, I believe, with many other
lovers of natural knowledge, that the various forms under which the
forces of matter are made manifest, have one common origin; or, in other
words, are so directly related and mutually dependent that they are
convertible, as it were into one another, and possess equivalents of
power in their action.\x94

These subterranean philosophers assert that by one operation of vril,
which Faraday would perhaps call \x91atmospheric magnetism,\x92 they can
influence the variations of temperature--in plain words, the weather;
that by operations, akin to those ascribed to mesmerism, electro-
biology, odic force, &c., but applied scientifically, through vril
conductors, they can exercise influence over minds, and bodies animal
and vegetable, to an extent not surpassed in the romances of our
mystics. To all such agencies they give the common name of vril.\x94

Zee asked me if, in my world, it was not known that all the faculties of
the mind could be quickened to a degree unknown in the waking state,
by trance or vision, in which the thoughts of one brain could be
transmitted to another, and knowledge be thus rapidly interchanged.
I replied, that there were amongst us stories told of such trance
or vision, and that I had heard much and seen something in mesmeric
clairvoyance; but that these practices had fallen much into disuse or
contempt, partly because of the gross impostures to which they had
been made subservient, and partly because, even where the effects upon
certain abnormal constitutions were genuinely produced, the effects when
fairly examined and analysed, were very unsatisfactory--not to be relied
upon for any systematic truthfulness or any practical purpose, and
rendered very mischievous to credulous persons by the superstitions
they tended to produce. Zee received my answers with much benignant
attention, and said that similar instances of abuse and credulity had
been familiar to their own scientific experience in the infancy of their
knowledge, and while the properties of vril were misapprehended, but
that she reserved further discussion on this subject till I was more
fitted to enter into it. She contented herself with adding, that it
was through the agency of vril, while I had been placed in the state
of trance, that I had been made acquainted with the rudiments of their
language; and that she and her father, who alone of the family, took
the pains to watch the experiment, had acquired a greater proportionate
knowledge of my language than I of their own; partly because my language
was much simpler than theirs, comprising far less of complex ideas; and
partly because their organisation was, by hereditary culture, much more
ductile and more readily capable of acquiring knowledge than mine. At
this I secretly demurred; and having had in the course of a practical
life, to sharpen my wits, whether at home or in travel, I could not
allow that my cerebral organisation could possibly be duller than that
of people who had lived all their lives by lamplight. However, while I
was thus thinking, Zee quietly pointed her forefinger at my forehead,
and sent me to sleep.



Chapter VIII.


When I once more awoke I saw by my bed-side the child who had brought
the rope and grappling-hooks to the house in which I had been first
received, and which, as I afterwards learned, was the residence of
the chief magistrate of the tribe. The child, whose name was Taee
(pronounced Tar-ee), was the magistrate\x92s eldest son. I found that
during my last sleep or trance I had made still greater advance in the
language of the country, and could converse with comparative ease and
fluency.

This child was singularly handsome, even for the beautiful race to which
he belonged, with a countenance very manly in aspect for his years, and
with a more vivacious and energetic expression than I had hitherto seen
in the serene and passionless faces of the men. He brought me the tablet
on which I had drawn the mode of my descent, and had also sketched the
head of the horrible reptile that had scared me from my friend\x92s corpse.
Pointing to that part of the drawing, Taee put to me a few questions
respecting the size and form of the monster, and the cave or chasm from
which it had emerged. His interest in my answers seemed so grave as
to divert him for a while from any curiosity as to myself or my
antecedents. But to my great embarrassment, seeing how I was pledged to
my host, he was just beginning to ask me where I came from, when Zee,
fortunately entered, and, overhearing him, said, \x93Taee, give to our
guest any information he may desire, but ask none from him in return. To
question him who he is, whence he comes, or wherefore he is here, would
be a breach of the law which my father has laid down in this house.\x94

\x93So be it,\x94 said Taee, pressing his hand to his breast; and from that
moment, till the one in which I saw him last, this child, with whom I
became very intimate, never once put to me any of the questions thus
interdicted.



Chapter IX.


It was not for some time, and until, by repeated trances, if they are to
be so called, my mind became better prepared to interchange ideas with
my entertainers, and more fully to comprehend differences of manners
and customs, at first too strange to my experience to be seized by my
reason, that I was enabled to gather the following details respecting
the origin and history of the subterranean population, as portion of one
great family race called the Ana.

According to the earliest traditions, the remote progenitors of the
race had once tenanted a world above the surface of that in which their
descendants dwelt. Myths of that world were still preserved in their
archives, and in those myths were legends of a vaulted dome in which the
lamps were lighted by no human hand. But such legends were considered by
most commentators as allegorical fables. According to these traditions
the earth itself, at the date to which the traditions ascend, was not
indeed in its infancy, but in the throes and travail of transition
from one form of development to another, and subject to many violent
revolutions of nature. By one of such revolutions, that portion of the
upper world inhabited by the ancestors of this race had been subjected
to inundations, not rapid, but gradual and uncontrollable, in which all,
save a scanty remnant, were submerged and perished. Whether this be
a record of our historical and sacred Deluge, or of some earlier one
contended for by geologists, I do not pretend to conjecture; though,
according to the chronology of this people as compared with that of
Newton, it must have been many thousands of years before the time of
Noah. On the other hand, the account of these writers does not harmonise
with the opinions most in vogue among geological authorities, inasmuch
as it places the existence of a human race upon earth at dates long
anterior to that assigned to the terrestrial formation adapted to the
introduction of mammalia. A band of the ill-fated race, thus invaded by
the Flood, had, during the march of the waters, taken refuge in caverns
amidst the loftier rocks, and, wandering through these hollows, they
lost sight of the upper world forever. Indeed, the whole face of the
earth had been changed by this great revulsion; land had been turned
into sea--sea into land. In the bowels of the inner earth, even now,
I was informed as a positive fact, might be discovered the remains of
human habitation--habitation not in huts and caverns, but in vast cities
whose ruins attest the civilisation of races which flourished before
the age of Noah, and are not to be classified with those genera to which
philosophy ascribes the use of flint and the ignorance of iron.

The fugitives had carried with them the knowledge of the arts they had
practised above ground--arts of culture and civilisation. Their earliest
want must have been that of supplying below the earth the light they had
lost above it; and at no time, even in the traditional period, do the
races, of which the one I now sojourned with formed a tribe, seem to
have been unacquainted with the art of extracting light from gases, or
manganese, or petroleum. They had been accustomed in their former state
to contend with the rude forces of nature; and indeed the lengthened
battle they had fought with their conqueror Ocean, which had taken
centuries in its spread, had quickened their skill in curbing waters
into dikes and channels. To this skill they owed their preservation in
their new abode. \x93For many generations,\x94 said my host, with a sort
of contempt and horror, \x93these primitive forefathers are said to have
degraded their rank and shortened their lives by eating the flesh of
animals, many varieties of which had, like themselves, escaped the
Deluge, and sought shelter in the hollows of the earth; other animals,
supposed to be unknown to the upper world, those hollows themselves
produced.\x94

When what we should term the historical age emerged from the twilight
of tradition, the Ana were already established in different communities,
and had attained to a degree of civilisation very analogous to that
which the more advanced nations above the earth now enjoy. They
were familiar with most of our mechanical inventions, including the
application of steam as well as gas. The communities were in fierce
competition with each other. They had their rich and their poor; they
had orators and conquerors; they made war either for a domain or
an idea. Though the various states acknowledged various forms of
government, free institutions were beginning to preponderate; popular
assemblies increased in power; republics soon became general; the
democracy to which the most enlightened European politicians look
forward as the extreme goal of political advancement, and which
still prevailed among other subterranean races, whom they despised as
barbarians, the loftier family of Ana, to which belonged the tribe I was
visiting, looked back to as one of the crude and ignorant experiments
which belong to the infancy of political science. It was the age of envy
and hate, of fierce passions, of constant social changes more or less
violent, of strife between classes, of war between state and state. This
phase of society lasted, however, for some ages, and was finally brought
to a close, at least among the nobler and more intellectual
populations, by the gradual discovery of the latent powers stored in the
all-permeating fluid which they denominate Vril.

According to the account I received from Zee, who, as an erudite
professor of the College of Sages, had studied such matters more
diligently than any other member of my host\x92s family, this fluid is
capable of being raised and disciplined into the mightiest agency over
all forms of matter, animate or inanimate. It can destroy like the flash
of lightning; yet, differently applied, it can replenish or invigorate
life, heal, and preserve, and on it they chiefly rely for the cure
of disease, or rather for enabling the physical organisation to
re-establish the due equilibrium of its natural powers, and thereby
to cure itself. By this agency they rend way through the most solid
substances, and open valleys for culture through the rocks of their
subterranean wilderness. From it they extract the light which supplies
their lamps, finding it steadier, softer, and healthier than the other
inflammable materials they had formerly used.

But the effects of the alleged discovery of the means to direct the more
terrible force of vril were chiefly remarkable in their influence upon
social polity. As these effects became familiarly known and skillfully
administered, war between the vril-discoverers ceased, for they brought
the art of destruction to such perfection as to annul all superiority in
numbers, discipline, or military skill. The fire lodged in the hollow
of a rod directed by the hand of a child could shatter the strongest
fortress, or cleave its burning way from the van to the rear of an
embattled host. If army met army, and both had command of this agency,
it could be but to the annihilation of each. The age of war was
therefore gone, but with the cessation of war other effects bearing
upon the social state soon became apparent. Man was so completely at
the mercy of man, each whom he encountered being able, if so willing,
to slay him on the instant, that all notions of government by force
gradually vanished from political systems and forms of law. It is only
by force that vast communities, dispersed through great distances of
space, can be kept together; but now there was no longer either the
necessity of self-preservation or the pride of aggrandisement to make
one state desire to preponderate in population over another.

The Vril-discoverers thus, in the course of a few generations,
peacefully split into communities of moderate size. The tribe amongst
which I had fallen was limited to 12,000 families. Each tribe occupied
a territory sufficient for all its wants, and at stated periods the
surplus population departed to seek a realm of its own. There appeared
no necessity for any arbitrary selection of these emigrants; there was
always a sufficient number who volunteered to depart.

These subdivided states, petty if we regard either territory or
population,--all appertained to one vast general family. They spoke
the same language, though the dialects might slightly differ. They
intermarried; They maintained the same general laws and customs; and so
important a bond between these several communities was the knowledge
of vril and the practice of its agencies, that the word A-Vril was
synonymous with civilisation; and Vril-ya, signifying \x93The Civilised
Nations,\x94 was the common name by which the communities employing the
uses of vril distinguished themselves from such of the Ana as were yet
in a state of barbarism.

The government of the tribe of Vril-ya I am treating of was apparently
very complicated, really very simple. It was based upon a principle
recognised in theory, though little carried out in practice, above
ground--viz., that the object of all systems of philosophical thought
tends to the attainment of unity, or the ascent through all intervening
labyrinths to the simplicity of a single first cause or principle.
Thus in politics, even republican writers have agreed that a benevolent
autocracy would insure the best administration, if there were any
guarantees for its continuance, or against its gradual abuse of the
powers accorded to it. This singular community elected therefore a
single supreme magistrate styled Tur; he held his office nominally
for life, but he could seldom be induced to retain it after the first
approach of old age. There was indeed in this society nothing to induce
any of its members to covet the cares of office. No honours, no insignia
of higher rank, were assigned to it. The supreme magistrate was not
distinguished from the rest by superior habitation or revenue. On the
other hand, the duties awarded to him were marvellously light and easy,
requiring no preponderant degree of energy or intelligence. There being
no apprehensions of war, there were no armies to maintain; there being
no government of force, there was no police to appoint and direct. What
we call crime was utterly unknown to the Vril-ya; and there were no
courts of criminal justice. The rare instances of civil disputes were
referred for arbitration to friends chosen by either party, or decided
by the Council of Sages, which will be described later. There were
no professional lawyers; and indeed their laws were but amicable
conventions, for there was no power to enforce laws against an offender
who carried in his staff the power to destroy his judges. There were
customs and regulations to compliance with which, for several ages,
the people had tacitly habituated themselves; or if in any instance an
individual felt such compliance hard, he quitted the community and went
elsewhere. There was, in fact, quietly established amid this state,
much the same compact that is found in our private families, in which we
virtually say to any independent grown-up member of the family whom
we receive to entertain, \x93Stay or go, according as our habits and
regulations suit or displease you.\x94 But though there were no laws such
as we call laws, no race above ground is so law-observing. Obedience to
the rule adopted by the community has become as much an instinct as
if it were implanted by nature. Even in every household the head of it
makes a regulation for its guidance, which is never resisted nor even
cavilled at by those who belong to the family. They have a proverb,
the pithiness of which is much lost in this paraphrase, \x93No happiness
without order, no order without authority, no authority without unity.\x94
 The mildness of all government among them, civil or domestic, may be
signalised by their idiomatic expressions for such terms as illegal or
forbidden--viz., \x93It is requested not to do so and so.\x94 Poverty among
the Ana is as unknown as crime; not that property is held in common, or
that all are equals in the extent of their possessions or the size and
luxury of their habitations: but there being no difference of rank or
position between the grades of wealth or the choice of occupations, each
pursues his own inclinations without creating envy or vying; some like
a modest, some a more splendid kind of life; each makes himself happy in
his own way. Owing to this absence of competition, and the limit placed
on the population, it is difficult for a family to fall into distress;
there are no hazardous speculations, no emulators striving for superior
wealth and rank. No doubt, in each settlement all originally had the
same proportions of land dealt out to them; but some, more adventurous
than others, had extended their possessions farther into the bordering
wilds, or had improved into richer fertility the produce of their
fields, or entered into commerce or trade. Thus, necessarily, some
had grown richer than others, but none had become absolutely poor, or
wanting anything which their tastes desired. If they did so, it was
always in their power to migrate, or at the worst to apply, without
shame and with certainty of aid, to the rich, for all the members of
the community considered themselves as brothers of one affectionate and
united family. More upon this head will be treated of incidentally as my
narrative proceeds.

The chief care of the supreme magistrate was to communicate with certain
active departments charged with the administration of special details.
The most important and essential of such details was that connected with
the due provision of light. Of this department my host, Aph-Lin, was
the chief. Another department, which might be called the foreign,
communicated with the neighbouring kindred states, principally for the
purpose of ascertaining all new inventions; and to a third department
all such inventions and improvements in machinery were committed for
trial. Connected with this department was the College of Sages--a
college especially favoured by such of the Ana as were widowed and
childless, and by the young unmarried females, amongst whom Zee was
the most active, and, if what we call renown or distinction was a thing
acknowledged by this people (which I shall later show it is not), among
the more renowned or distinguished. It is by the female Professors
of this College that those studies which are deemed of least use in
practical life--as purely speculative philosophy, the history of remote
periods, and such sciences as entomology, conchology, &c.--are the more
diligently cultivated. Zee, whose mind, active as Aristotle\x92s, equally
embraced the largest domains and the minutest details of thought, had
written two volumes on the parasite insect that dwells amid the hairs
of a tiger\x92s* paw, which work was considered the best authority on that
interesting subject.

* The animal here referred to has many points of difference from the
tiger of the upper world. It is larger, and with a broader paw, and
still more receding frontal. It haunts the side of lakes and pools,
and feeds principally on fishes, though it does not object to any
terrestrial animal of inferior strength that comes in its way. It is
becoming very scarce even in the wild districts, where it is devoured
by gigantic reptiles. I apprehended that it clearly belongs to the tiger
species, since the parasite animalcule found in its paw, like that in
the Asiatic tiger, is a miniature image of itself.

But the researches of the sages are not confined to such subtle or
elegant studies. They comprise various others more important, and
especially the properties of vril, to the perception of which their
finer nervous organisation renders the female Professors eminently keen.
It is out of this college that the Tur, or chief magistrate, selects
Councillors, limited to three, in the rare instances in which novelty of
event or circumstance perplexes his own judgment.

There are a few other departments of minor consequence, but all are
carried on so noiselessly, and quietly that the evidence of a government
seems to vanish altogether, and social order to be as regular and
unobtrusive as if it were a law of nature. Machinery is employed to an
inconceivable extent in all the operations of labour within and without
doors, and it is the unceasing object of the department charged with its
administration to extend its efficiency. There is no class of labourers
or servants, but all who are required to assist or control the machinery
are found in the children, from the time they leave the care of their
mothers to the marriageable age, which they place at sixteen for the
Gy-ei (the females), twenty for the Ana (the males). These children are
formed into bands and sections under their own chiefs, each following
the pursuits in which he is most pleased, or for which he feels himself
most fitted. Some take to handicrafts, some to agriculture, some to
household work, and some to the only services of danger to which the
population is exposed; for the sole perils that threaten this tribe are,
first, from those occasional convulsions within the earth, to foresee
and guard against which tasks their utmost ingenuity--irruptions of fire
and water, the storms of subterranean winds and escaping gases. At
the borders of the domain, and at all places where such peril might
be apprehended, vigilant inspectors are stationed with telegraphic
communications to the hall in which chosen sages take it by turns to
hold perpetual sittings. These inspectors are always selected from the
elder boys approaching the age of puberty, and on the principle that at
that age observation is more acute and the physical forces more alert
than at any other. The second service of danger, less grave, is in the
destruction of all creatures hostile to the life, or the culture, or
even the comfort, of the Ana. Of these the most formidable are the vast
reptiles, of some of which antediluvian relics are preserved in our
museums, and certain gigantic winged creatures, half bird, half reptile.
These, together with lesser wild animals, corresponding to our tigers
or venomous serpents, it is left to the younger children to hunt and
destroy; because, according to the Ana, here ruthlessness is wanted,
and the younger the child the more ruthlessly he will destroy. There is
another class of animals in the destruction of which discrimination
is to be used, and against which children of intermediate age are
appointed--animals that do not threaten the life of man, but ravage the
produce of his labour, varieties of the elk and deer species, and
a smaller creature much akin to our rabbit, though infinitely more
destructive to crops, and much more cunning in its mode of depredation.
It is the first object of these appointed infants, to tame the more
intelligent of such animals into respect for enclosures signalised by
conspicuous landmarks, as dogs are taught to respect a larder, or even
to guard the master\x92s property. It is only where such creatures are
found untamable to this extent that they are destroyed. Life is never
taken away for food or for sport, and never spared where untamably
inimical to the Ana. Concomitantly with these bodily services and tasks,
the mental education of the children goes on till boyhood ceases. It is
the general custom, then, to pass though a course of instruction at
the College of Sages, in which, besides more general studies, the pupil
receives special lessons in such vocation or direction of intellect
as he himself selects. Some, however, prefer to pass this period of
probation in travel, or to emigrate, or to settle down at once
into rural or commercial pursuits. No force is put upon individual
inclination.



Chapter X.


The word Ana (pronounced broadly \x91Arna\x92) corresponds with our plural
\x91men;\x92 An (pronounced \x91Arn\x92), the singular, with \x91man.\x92 The word for
woman is Gy (pronounced hard, as in Guy); it forms itself into Gy-ei for
the plural, but the G becomes soft in the plural like Jy-ei. They have
a proverb to the effect that this difference in pronunciation is
symbolical, for that the female sex is soft in the concrete, but hard to
deal with in the individual. The Gy-ei are in the fullest enjoyment of
all the rights of equality with males, for which certain philosophers
above ground contend.

In childhood they perform the offices of work and labour impartially
with the boys, and, indeed, in the earlier age appropriated to the
destruction of animals irreclaimably hostile, the girls are frequently
preferred, as being by constitution more ruthless under the influence of
fear or hate. In the interval between infancy and the marriageable age
familiar intercourse between the sexes is suspended. At the marriageable
age it is renewed, never with worse consequences than those which attend
upon marriage. All arts and vocations allotted to the one sex are open
to the other, and the Gy-ei arrogate to themselves a superiority in all
those abstruse and mystical branches of reasoning, for which they say
the Ana are unfitted by a duller sobriety of understanding, or the
routine of their matter-of-fact occupations, just as young ladies in our
own world constitute themselves authorities in the subtlest points of
theological doctrine, for which few men, actively engaged in worldly
business have sufficient learning or refinement of intellect.
Whether owing to early training in gymnastic exercises, or to their
constitutional organisation, the Gy-ei are usually superior to the Ana
in physical strength (an important element in the consideration and
maintenance of female rights). They attain to loftier stature, and amid
their rounder proportions are imbedded sinews and muscles as hardy
as those of the other sex. Indeed they assert that, according to the
original laws of nature, females were intended to be larger than males,
and maintain this dogma by reference to the earliest formations of life
in insects, and in the most ancient family of the vertebrata--viz.,
fishes--in both of which the females are generally large enough to make
a meal of their consorts if they so desire. Above all, the Gy-ei have a
readier and more concentred power over that mysterious fluid or agency
which contains the element of destruction, with a larger portion of that
sagacity which comprehends dissimulation. Thus they cannot only defend
themselves against all aggressions from the males, but could, at any
moment when he least expected his danger, terminate the existence of an
offending spouse. To the credit of the Gy-ei no instance of their abuse
of this awful superiority in the art of destruction is on record for
several ages. The last that occurred in the community I speak of appears
(according to their chronology) to have been about two thousand years
ago. A Gy, then, in a fit of jealousy, slew her husband; and this
abominable act inspired such terror among the males that they emigrated
in a body and left all the Gy-ei to themselves. The history runs that
the widowed Gy-ei, thus reduced to despair, fell upon the murderess when
in her sleep (and therefore unarmed), and killed her, and then entered
into a solemn obligation amongst themselves to abrogate forever the
exercise of their extreme conjugal powers, and to inculcate the
same obligation for ever and ever on their female children. By this
conciliatory process, a deputation despatched to the fugitive consorts
succeeded in persuading many to return, but those who did return were
mostly the elder ones. The younger, either from too craven a doubt of
their consorts, or too high an estimate of their own merits, rejected
all overtures, and, remaining in other communities, were caught up there
by other mates, with whom perhaps they were no better off. But the loss
of so large a portion of the male youth operated as a salutary warning
on the Gy-ei, and confirmed them in the pious resolution to which they
pledged themselves. Indeed it is now popularly considered that, by long
hereditary disuse, the Gy-ei have lost both the aggressive and defensive
superiority over the Ana which they once possessed, just as in the
inferior animals above the earth many peculiarities in their original
formation, intended by nature for their protection, gradually fade or
become inoperative when not needed under altered circumstances. I should
be sorry, however, for any An who induced a Gy to make the experiment
whether he or she were the stronger.

From the incident I have narrated, the Ana date certain alterations in
the marriage customs, tending, perhaps, somewhat to the advantage of the
male. They now bind themselves in wedlock only for three years; at the
end of each third year either male or female can divorce the other and
is free to marry again. At the end of ten years the An has the privilege
of taking a second wife, allowing the first to retire if she so please.
These regulations are for the most part a dead letter; divorces and
polygamy are extremely rare, and the marriage state now seems
singularly happy and serene among this astonishing people;--the Gy-ei,
notwithstanding their boastful superiority in physical strength and
intellectual abilities, being much curbed into gentle manners by the
dread of separation or of a second wife, and the Ana being very much the
creatures of custom, and not, except under great aggravation, likely
to exchange for hazardous novelties faces and manners to which they
are reconciled by habit. But there is one privilege the Gy-ei carefully
retain, and the desire for which perhaps forms the secret motive of most
lady asserters of woman rights above ground. They claim the privilege,
here usurped by men, of proclaiming their love and urging their suit;
in other words, of being the wooing party rather than the wooed. Such a
phenomenon as an old maid does not exist among the Gy-ei. Indeed it
is very seldom that a Gy does not secure any An upon whom she sets her
heart, if his affections be not strongly engaged elsewhere. However coy,
reluctant, and prudish, the male she courts may prove at first, yet her
perseverance, her ardour, her persuasive powers, her command over the
mystic agencies of vril, are pretty sure to run down his neck into
what we call \x93the fatal noose.\x94 Their argument for the reversal of that
relationship of the sexes which the blind tyranny of man has established
on the surface of the earth, appears cogent, and is advanced with a
frankness which might well be commended to impartial consideration.
They say, that of the two the female is by nature of a more loving
disposition than the male--that love occupies a larger space in her
thoughts, and is more essential to her happiness, and that therefore
she ought to be the wooing party; that otherwise the male is a shy and
dubitant creature--that he has often a selfish predilection for the
single state--that he often pretends to misunderstand tender glances
and delicate hints--that, in short, he must be resolutely pursued and
captured. They add, moreover, that unless the Gy can secure the An of
her choice, and one whom she would not select out of the whole world
becomes her mate, she is not only less happy than she otherwise would
be, but she is not so good a being, that her qualities of heart are not
sufficiently developed; whereas the An is a creature that less lastingly
concentrates his affections on one object; that if he cannot get the
Gy whom he prefers he easily reconciles himself to another Gy; and,
finally, that at the worst, if he is loved and taken care of, it is less
necessary to the welfare of his existence that he should love as well
as be loved; he grows contented with his creature comforts, and the many
occupations of thought which he creates for himself.

Whatever may be said as to this reasoning, the system works well for the
male; for being thus sure that he is truly and ardently loved, and that
the more coy and reluctant he shows himself, the more determination
to secure him increases, he generally contrives to make his consent
dependent on such conditions as he thinks the best calculated to insure,
if not a blissful, at least a peaceful life. Each individual An has his
own hobbies, his own ways, his own predilections, and, whatever they may
be, he demands a promise of full and unrestrained concession to them.
This, in the pursuit of her object, the Gy readily promises; and as the
characteristic of this extraordinary people is an implicit veneration
for truth, and her word once given is never broken even by the giddiest
Gy, the conditions stipulated for are religiously observed. In fact,
notwithstanding all their abstract rights and powers, the Gy-ei are the
most amiable, conciliatory, and submissive wives I have ever seen even
in the happiest households above ground. It is an aphorism among them,
that \x93where a Gy loves it is her pleasure to obey.\x94 It will be observed
that in the relationship of the sexes I have spoken only of marriage,
for such is the moral perfection to which this community has attained,
that any illicit connection is as little possible amongst them as it
would be to a couple of linnets during the time they agree to live in
pairs.



Chapter XI.


Nothing had more perplexed me in seeking to reconcile my sense to the
existence of regions extending below the surface of the earth, and
habitable by beings, if dissimilar from, still, in all material points
of organism, akin to those in the upper world, than the contradiction
thus presented to the doctrine in which, I believe, most geologists
and philosophers concur--viz., that though with us the sun is the great
source of heat, yet the deeper we go beneath the crust of the earth, the
greater is the increasing heat, being, it is said, found in the ratio of
a degree for every foot, commencing from fifty feet below the surface.
But though the domains of the tribe I speak of were, on the higher
ground, so comparatively near to the surface, that I could account for a
temperature, therein, suitable to organic life, yet even the ravines and
valleys of that realm were much less hot than philosophers would deem
possible at such a depth--certainly not warmer than the south of France,
or at least of Italy. And according to all the accounts I received, vast
tracts immeasurably deeper beneath the surface, and in which one might
have thought only salamanders could exist, were inhabited by innumerable
races organised like ourselves, I cannot pretend in any way to account
for a fact which is so at variance with the recognised laws of science,
nor could Zee much help me towards a solution of it. She did but
conjecture that sufficient allowance had not been made by our
philosophers for the extreme porousness of the interior earth--the
vastness of its cavities and irregularities, which served to create free
currents of air and frequent winds--and for the various modes in which
heat is evaporated and thrown off. She allowed, however, that there was
a depth at which the heat was deemed to be intolerable to such organised
life as was known to the experience of the Vril-ya, though their
philosophers believed that even in such places life of some kind, life
sentient, life intellectual, would be found abundant and thriving, could
the philosophers penetrate to it. \x93Wherever the All-Good builds,\x94
 said she, \x93there, be sure, He places inhabitants. He loves not empty
dwellings.\x94 She added, however, that many changes in temperature and
climate had been effected by the skill of the Vril-ya, and that the
agency of vril had been successfully employed in such changes. She
described a subtle and life-giving medium called Lai, which I suspect
to be identical with the ethereal oxygen of Dr. Lewins, wherein work all
the correlative forces united under the name of vril; and contended that
wherever this medium could be expanded, as it were, sufficiently for the
various agencies of vril to have ample play, a temperature congenial to
the highest forms of life could be secured. She said also, that it was
the belief of their naturalists that flowers and vegetation had been
produced originally (whether developed from seeds borne from the surface
of the earth in the earlier convulsions of nature, or imported by
the tribes that first sought refuge in cavernous hollows) through the
operations of the light constantly brought to bear on them, and the
gradual improvement in culture. She said also, that since the vril light
had superseded all other light-giving bodies, the colours of flower and
foliage had become more brilliant, and vegetation had acquired larger
growth.

Leaving these matters to the consideration of those better competent to
deal with them, I must now devote a few pages to the very interesting
questions connected with the language of the Vril-ya.



Chapter XII.


The language of the Vril-ya is peculiarly interesting, because it seems
to me to exhibit with great clearness the traces of the three main
transitions through which language passes in attaining to perfection of
form.

One of the most illustrious of recent philologists, Max Muller, in
arguing for the analogy between the strata of language and the strata
of the earth, lays down this absolute dogma: \x93No language can, by
any possibility, be inflectional without having passed through the
agglutinative and isolating stratum. No language can be agglutinative
without clinging with its roots to the underlying stratum of
isolation.\x94--\x91On the Stratification of Language,\x92 p. 20.

Taking then the Chinese language as the best existing type of the
original isolating stratum, \x93as the faithful photograph of man in his
leading-strings trying the muscles of his mind, groping his way, and so
delighted with his first successful grasps that he repeats them again
and again,\x94 (Max Muller, p. 3)--we have, in the language of the Vril-ya,
still \x93clinging with its roots to the underlying stratum,\x94 the evidences
of the original isolation. It abounds in monosyllables, which are the
foundations of the language. The transition into the agglutinative
form marks an epoch that must have gradually extended through ages,
the written literature of which has only survived in a few fragments of
symbolical mythology and certain pithy sentences which have passed
into popular proverbs. With the extant literature of the Vril-ya the
inflectional stratum commences. No doubt at that time there must have
operated concurrent causes, in the fusion of races by some dominant
people, and the rise of some great literary phenomena by which the
form of language became arrested and fixed. As the inflectional stage
prevailed over the agglutinative, it is surprising to see how much more
boldly the original roots of the language project from the surface that
conceals them. In the old fragments and proverbs of the preceding stage
the monosyllables which compose those roots vanish amidst words of
enormous length, comprehending whole sentences from which no one part
can be disentangled from the other and employed separately. But when
the inflectional form of language became so far advanced as to have its
scholars and grammarians, they seem to have united in extirpating all
such polysynthetical or polysyllabic monsters, as devouring invaders of
the aboriginal forms. Words beyond three syllables became proscribed
as barbarous and in proportion as the language grew thus simplified it
increased in strength, in dignity, and in sweetness. Though now very
compressed in sound, it gains in clearness by that compression. By a
single letter, according to its position, they contrive to express
all that with civilised nations in our upper world it takes the waste,
sometimes of syllables, sometimes of sentences, to express. Let me here
cite one or two instances: An (which I will translate man), Ana (men);
the letter \x91s\x92 is with them a letter implying multitude, according to
where it is placed; Sana means mankind; Ansa, a multitude of men. The
prefix of certain letters in their alphabet invariably denotes compound
significations. For instance, Gl (which with them is a single letter, as
\x91th\x92 is a single letter with the Greeks) at the commencement of a word
infers an assemblage or union of things, sometimes kindred, sometimes
dissimilar--as Oon, a house; Gloon, a town (i. e., an assemblage of
houses). Ata is sorrow; Glata, a public calamity. Aur-an is the health
or wellbeing of a man; Glauran, the wellbeing of the state, the good of
the community; and a word constantly in ther mouths is A-glauran, which
denotes their political creed--viz., that \x93the first principle of a
community is the good of all.\x94 Aub is invention; Sila, a tone in music.
Glaubsila, as uniting the ideas of invention and of musical intonation,
is the classical word for poetry--abbreviated, in ordinary conversation,
to Glaubs. Na, which with them is, like Gl, but a single letter, always,
when an initial, implies something antagonistic to life or joy or
comfort, resembling in this the Aryan root Nak, expressive of perishing
or destruction. Nax is darkness; Narl, death; Naria, sin or evil.
Nas--an uttermost condition of sin and evil--corruption. In writing,
they deem it irreverent to express the Supreme Being by any special
name. He is symbolized by what may be termed the heiroglyphic of a
pyramid, /\. In prayer they address Him by a name which they deem too
sacred to confide to a stranger, and I know it not. In conversation they
generally use a periphrastic epithet, such as the All-Good. The letter
V, symbolical of the inverted pyramid, where it is an initial, nearly
always denotes excellence of power; as Vril, of which I have said so
much; Veed, an immortal spirit; Veed-ya, immortality; Koom, pronounced
like the Welsh Cwm, denotes something of hollowness. Koom itself is
a cave; Koom-in, a hole; Zi-koom, a valley; Koom-zi, vacancy or void;
Bodh-koom, ignorance (literally, knowledge-void). Koom-posh is their
name for the government of the many, or the ascendancy of the most
ignorant or hollow. Posh is an almost untranslatable idiom, implying, as
the reader will see later, contempt. The closest rendering I can give to
it is our slang term, \x93bosh;\x94 and this Koom-Posh may be loosely rendered
\x93Hollow-Bosh.\x94 But when Democracy or Koom-Posh degenerates from popular
ignorance into that popular passion or ferocity which precedes its
decease, as (to cite illustrations from the upper world) during the
French Reign of Terror, or for the fifty years of the Roman Republic
preceding the ascendancy of Augustus, their name for that state of
things is Glek-Nas. Ek is strife--Glek, the universal strife. Nas, as I
before said, is corruption or rot; thus, Glek-Nas may be construed, \x93the
universal strife-rot.\x94 Their compounds are very expressive; thus,
Bodh being knowledge, and Too a participle that implies the action of
cautiously approaching,--Too-bodh is their word for Philosophy; Pah is
a contemptuous exclamation analogous to our idiom, \x93stuff and nonsense;\x94
 Pah-bodh (literally stuff and nonsense-knowledge) is their term for
futile and false philosophy, and applied to a species of metaphysical or
speculative ratiocination formerly in vogue, which consisted in making
inquiries that could not be answered, and were not worth making; such,
for instance, as \x93Why does an An have five toes to his feet instead of
four or six? Did the first An, created by the All-Good, have the same
number of toes as his descendants? In the form by which an An will be
recognised by his friends in the future state of being, will he retain
any toes at all, and, if so, will they be material toes or spiritual
toes?\x94 I take these illustrations of Pahbodh, not in irony or jest, but
because the very inquiries I name formed the subject of controversy by
the latest cultivators of that \x91science,\x92--4000 years ago.

In the declension of nouns I was informed that anciently there were
eight cases (one more than in the Sanskrit Grammar); but the effect
of time has been to reduce these cases, and multiply, instead of these
varying terminations, explanatory propositions. At present, in the
Grammar submitted to my study, there were four cases to nouns, three
having varying terminations, and the fourth a differing prefix.

     SINGULAR.                          PLURAL.
     Nom.     An,            Man,  |   Nom.    Ana,              Men.
     Dat.     Ano,        to Man,  |   Dat.    Anoi,          to Men.
     Ac.      Anan,          Man,  |   Ac.     Ananda,           Men.
     Voc.     Hil-an,      O Man,  |   Voc.    Hil-Ananda,     O Men.

In the elder inflectional literature the dual form existed--it has long
been obsolete.

The genitive case with them is also obsolete; the dative supplies its
place: they say the House \x91to\x92 a Man, instead of the House \x91of\x92 a Man.
When used (sometimes in poetry), the genitive in the termination is the
same as the nominative; so is the ablative, the preposition that marks
it being a prefix or suffix at option, and generally decided by ear,
according to the sound of the noun. It will be observed that the
prefix Hil marks the vocative case. It is always retained in addressing
another, except in the most intimate domestic relations; its omission
would be considered rude: just as in our of forms of speech in
addressing a king it would have been deemed disrespectful to say \x93King,\x94
 and reverential to say \x93O King.\x94 In fact, as they have no titles of
honour, the vocative adjuration supplies the place of a title, and is
given impartially to all. The prefix Hil enters into the composition of
words that imply distant communications, as Hil-ya, to travel.

In the conjugation of their verbs, which is much too lengthy a subject
to enter on here, the auxiliary verb Ya, \x93to go,\x94 which plays so
considerable part in the Sanskrit, appears and performs a kindred
office, as if it were a radical in some language from which both
had descended. But another auxiliary or opposite signification also
accompanies it and shares its labours--viz., Zi, to stay or repose. Thus
Ya enters into the future tense, and Zi in the preterite of all verbs
requiring auxiliaries. Yam, I shall go--Yiam, I may go--Yani-ya, I shall
go (literally, I go to go), Zam-poo-yan, I have gone (literally, I
rest from gone). Ya, as a termination, implies by analogy, progress,
movement, efflorescence. Zi, as a terminal, denotes fixity, sometimes in
a good sense, sometimes in a bad, according to the word with which it
is coupled. Iva-zi, eternal goodness; Nan-zi, eternal evil. Poo (from)
enters as a prefix to words that denote repugnance, or things from
which we ought to be averse. Poo-pra, disgust; Poo-naria, falsehood,
the vilest kind of evil. Poosh or Posh I have already confessed to be
untranslatable literally. It is an expression of contempt not unmixed
with pity. This radical seems to have originated from inherent sympathy
between the labial effort and the sentiment that impelled it, Poo being
an utterance in which the breath is exploded from the lips with more or
less vehemence. On the other hand, Z, when an initial, is with them a
sound in which the breath is sucked inward, and thus Zu, pronounced Zoo
(which in their language is one letter), is the ordinary prefix to words
that signify something that attracts, pleases, touches the heart--as
Zummer, lover; Zutze, love; Zuzulia, delight. This indrawn sound of
Z seems indeed naturally appropriate to fondness. Thus, even in our
language, mothers say to their babies, in defiance of grammar, \x93Zoo
darling;\x94 and I have heard a learned professor at Boston call his wife
(he had been only married a month) \x93Zoo little pet.\x94

I cannot quit this subject, however, without observing by what slight
changes in the dialects favoured by different tribes of the same race,
the original signification and beauty of sounds may become confused and
deformed. Zee told me with much indignation that Zummer (lover) which in
the way she uttered it, seemed slowly taken down to the very depths of
her heart, was, in some not very distant communities of the Vril-ya,
vitiated into the half-hissing, half-nasal, wholly disagreeable, sound
of Subber. I thought to myself it only wanted the introduction of \x91n\x92
before \x91u\x92 to render it into an English word significant of the last
quality an amorous Gy would desire in her Zummer.

I will but mention another peculiarity in this language which gives
equal force and brevity to its forms of expressions.

A is with them, as with us, the first letter of the alphabet, and
is often used as a prefix word by itself to convey a complex idea of
sovereignty or chiefdom, or presiding principle. For instance, Iva is
goodness; Diva, goodness and happiness united; A-Diva is unerring and
absolute truth. I have already noticed the value of A in A-glauran,
so, in vril (to whose properties they trace their present state of
civilisation), A-vril, denotes, as I have said, civilisation itself.

The philologist will have seen from the above how much the language
of the Vril-ya is akin to the Aryan or Indo-Germanic; but, like all
languages, it contains words and forms in which transfers from very
opposite sources of speech have been taken. The very title of Tur, which
they give to their supreme magistrate, indicates theft from a tongue
akin to the Turanian. They say themselves that this is a foreign word
borrowed from a title which their historical records show to have been
borne by the chief of a nation with whom the ancestors of the Vril-ya
were, in very remote periods, on friendly terms, but which has long
become extinct, and they say that when, after the discovery of vril,
they remodelled their political institutions, they expressly adopted a
title taken from an extinct race and a dead language for that of their
chief magistrate, in order to avoid all titles for that office with
which they had previous associations.

Should life be spared to me, I may collect into systematic form such
knowledge as I acquired of this language during my sojourn amongst the
Vril-ya. But what I have already said will perhaps suffice to show to
genuine philological students that a language which, preserving so many
of the roots in the aboriginal form, and clearing from the immediate,
but transitory, polysynthetical stage so many rude incumbrances, has
attained to such a union of simplicity and compass in its final
inflectional forms, must have been the gradual work of countless ages
and many varieties of mind ; that it contains the evidence of fusion
between congenial races, and necessitated, in arriving at the shape of
which I have given examples, the continuous culture of a highly
thoughtful people.

That, nevertheless, the literature which belongs to this language is a
literature of the past; that the present felicitous state of society at
which the Ana have attained forbids the progressive cultivation of
literature, especially in the two main divisions of fiction and history,
--I shall have occasion to show.



Chapter XIII.


This people have a religion, and, whatever may be said against it, at
least it has these strange peculiarities: firstly, that all believe in
the creed they profess; secondly, that they all practice the precepts
which the creed inculcates. They unite in the worship of one divine
Creator and Sustainer of the universe. They believe that it is one of
the properties of the all-permeating agency of vril, to transmit to
the well-spring of life and intelligence every thought that a living
creature can conceive; and though they do not contend that the idea of a
Diety is innate, yet they say that the An (man) is the only creature,
so far as their observation of nature extends, to whom \x91the capacity
of conceiving that idea,\x92 with all the trains of thought which open out
from it, is vouchsafed. They hold that this capacity is a privilege that
cannot have been given in vain, and hence that prayer and thanksgiving
are acceptable to the divine Creator, and necessary to the complete
development of the human creature. They offer their devotions both in
private and public. Not being considered one of their species, I was
not admitted into the building or temple in which the public worship is
rendered; but I am informed that the service is exceedingly short, and
unattended with any pomp of ceremony. It is a doctrine with the Vril-ya,
that earnest devotion or complete abstraction from the actual world
cannot, with benefit to itself, be maintained long at a stretch by the
human mind, especially in public, and that all attempts to do so either
lead to fanaticism or to hypocrisy. When they pray in private, it is
when they are alone or with their young children.

They say that in ancient times there was a great number of books written
upon speculations as to the nature of the Diety, and upon the forms of
belief or worship supposed to be most agreeable to Him. But these were
found to lead to such heated and angry disputations as not only to shake
the peace of the community and divide families before the most united,
but in the course of discussing the attributes of the Diety, the
existence of the Diety Himself became argued away, or, what was
worse, became invested with the passions and infirmities of the human
disputants. \x93For,\x94 said my host, \x93since a finite being like an An cannot
possibly define the Infinite, so, when he endeavours to realise an idea
of the Divinity, he only reduces the Divinity into an An like himself.\x94
 During the later ages, therefore, all theological speculations, though
not forbidden, have been so discouraged as to have fallen utterly
into disuse. The Vril-ya unite in a conviction of a future state, more
felicitous and more perfect than the present. If they have very vague
notions of the doctrine of rewards and punishments, it is perhaps
because they have no systems of rewards and punishments among
themselves, for there are no crimes to punish, and their moral standard
is so even that no An among them is, upon the whole, considered more
virtuous than another. If one excels, perhaps in one virtue, another
equally excels in some other virtue; If one has his prevalent fault or
infirmity, so also another has his. In fact, in their extraordinary
mode of life. There are so few temptations to wrong, that they are good
(according to their notions of goodness) merely because they live.
They have some fanciful notions upon the continuance of life, when once
bestowed, even in the vegetable world, as the reader will see in the
next chapter.



Chapter XIV.


Though, as I have said, the Vril-ya discourage all speculations on the
nature of the Supreme Being, they appear to concur in a belief by which
they think to solve that great problem of the existence of evil which
has so perplexed the philosophy of the upper world. They hold that
wherever He has once given life, with the perceptions of that life,
however faint it be, as in a plant, the life is never destroyed; it
passes into new and improved forms, though not in this planet (differing
therein from the ordinary doctrine of metempsychosis), and that the
living thing retains the sense of identity, so that it connects its past
life with its future, and is \x91conscious\x92 of its progressive improvement
in the scale of joy. For they say that, without this assumption, they
cannot, according to the lights of human reason vouchsafed to them,
discover the perfect justice which must be a constituent quality of the
All-Wise and the All-Good. Injustice, they say, can only emanate
from three causes: want of wisdom to perceive what is just, want of
benevolence to desire, want of power to fulfill it; and that each of
these three wants is incompatible in the All-Wise, the All-Good,
the All-Powerful. But that, while even in this life, the wisdom,
the benevolence, and the power of the Supreme Being are sufficiently
apparent to compel our recognition, the justice necessarily resulting
from those attributes, absolutely requires another life, not for man
only, but for every living thing of the inferior orders. That, alike in
the animal and the vegetable world, we see one individual rendered, by
circumstances beyond its control, exceedingly wretched compared to its
neighbours--one only exists as the prey of another--even a plant suffers
from disease till it perishes prematurely, while the plant next to it
rejoices in its vitality and lives out its happy life free from a pang.
That it is an erroneous analogy from human infirmities to reply by
saying that the Supreme Being only acts by general laws, thereby making
his own secondary causes so potent as to mar the essential kindness of
the First Cause; and a still meaner and more ignorant conception of the
All-Good, to dismiss with a brief contempt all consideration of justice
for the myriad forms into which He has infused life, and assume that
justice is only due to the single product of the An. There is no small
and no great in the eyes of the divine Life-Giver. But once grant that
nothing, however humble, which feels that it lives and suffers, can
perish through the series of ages, that all its suffering here, if
continuous from the moment of its birth to that of its transfer to
another form of being, would be more brief compared with eternity than
the cry of the new-born is compared to the whole life of a man; and once
suppose that this living thing retains its sense of identity when so
transformed (for without that sense it could be aware of no future
being), and though, indeed, the fulfilment of divine justice is removed
from the scope of our ken, yet we have a right to assume it to be
uniform and universal, and not varying and partial, as it would be
if acting only upon general and secondary laws; because such perfect
justice flows of necessity from perfectness of knowledge to conceive,
perfectness of love to will, and perfectness of power to complete it.

However fantastic this belief of the Vril-ya may be, it tends perhaps to
confirm politically the systems of government which, admitting different
degrees of wealth, yet establishes perfect equality in rank, exquisite
mildness in all relations and intercourse, and tenderness to all created
things which the good of the community does not require them to destroy.
And though their notion of compensation to a tortured insect or a
cankered flower may seem to some of us a very wild crotchet, yet,
at least, is not a mischievous one; and it may furnish matter for no
unpleasing reflection to think that within the abysses of earth, never
lit by a ray from the material heavens, there should have penetrated so
luminous a conviction of the ineffable goodness of the Creator--so
fixed an idea that the general laws by which He acts cannot admit of any
partial injustice or evil, and therefore cannot be comprehended without
reference to their action over all space and throughout all time. And
since, as I shall have occasion to observe later, the intellectual
conditions and social systems of this subterranean race comprise and
harmonise great, and apparently antagonistic, varieties in philosophical
doctrine and speculation which have from time to time been started,
discussed, dismissed, and have re-appeared amongst thinkers or dreamers
in the upper world,--so I may perhaps appropriately conclude this
reference to the belief of the Vril-ya, that self-conscious or sentient
life once given is indestructible among inferior creatures as well as
in man, by an eloquent passage from the work of that eminent zoologist,
Louis Agassiz, which I have only just met with, many years after I had
committed to paper these recollections of the life of the Vril-ya which
I now reduce into something like arrangement and form: \x93The relations
which individual animals bear to one another are of such a character
that they ought long ago to have been considered as sufficient proof
that no organised being could ever have been called into existence by
other agency than by the direct intervention of a reflective mind.
This argues strongly in favour of the existence in every animal of
an immaterial principle similar to that which by its excellence and
superior endowments places man so much above the animals; yet the
principle unquestionably exists, and whether it be called sense, reason,
or instinct, it presents in the whole range of organised beings a series
of phenomena closely linked together, and upon it are based not only
the higher manifestations of the mind, but the very permanence of the
specific differences which characterise every organism. Most of the
arguments in favour of the immortality of man apply equally to the
permanency of this principle in other living beings. May I not add that
a future life in which man would be deprived of that great source of
enjoyment and intellectual and moral improvement which results from
the contemplation of the harmonies of an organic world would involve
a lamentable loss? And may we not look to a spiritual concert of the
combined worlds and ALL their inhabitants in the presence of
their Creator as the highest conception of paradise?\x94--\x91Essay on
Classification,\x92 sect. xvii. p. 97-99.



Chapter XV.


Kind to me as I found all in this household, the young daughter of my
host was the most considerate and thoughtful in her kindness. At her
suggestion I laid aside the habiliments in which I had descended
from the upper earth, and adopted the dress of the Vril-ya, with the
exception of the artful wings which served them, when on foot, as a
graceful mantle. But as many of the Vril-ya, when occupied in urban
pursuits, did not wear these wings, this exception created no marked
difference between myself and the race among whom I sojourned, and I was
thus enabled to visit the town without exciting unpleasant curiosity.
Out of the household no one suspected that I had come from the upper
world, and I was but regarded as one of some inferior and barbarous
tribe whom Aph-Lin entertained as a guest.

The city was large in proportion to the territory round it, which was of
no greater extent than many an English or Hungarian nobleman\x92s estate;
but the whole if it, to the verge of the rocks which constituted its
boundary, was cultivated to the nicest degree, except where certain
allotments of mountain and pasture were humanely left free to the
sustenance of the harmless animals they had tamed, though not for
domestic use. So great is their kindness towards these humbler
creatures, that a sum is devoted from the public treasury for the
purpose of deporting them to other Vril-ya communities willing to
receive them (chiefly new colonies), whenever they become too numerous
for the pastures allotted to them in their native place. They do not,
however, multiply to an extent comparable to the ratio at which, with
us, animals bred for slaughter, increase. It seems a law of nature that
animals not useful to man gradually recede from the domains he occupies,
or even become extinct. It is an old custom of the various sovereign
states amidst which the race of the Vril-ya are distributed, to leave
between each state a neutral and uncultivated border-land. In the
instance of the community I speak of, this tract, being a ridge of
savage rocks, was impassable by foot, but was easily surmounted, whether
by the wings of the inhabitants or the air-boats, of which I shall speak
hereafter. Roads through it were also cut for the transit of vehicles
impelled by vril. These intercommunicating tracts were always kept
lighted, and the expense thereof defrayed by a special tax, to which all
the communities comprehended in the denomination of Vril-ya contribute
in settled proportions. By these means a considerable commercial traffic
with other states, both near and distant, was carried on. The surplus
wealth on this special community was chiefly agricultural. The community
was also eminent for skill in constructing implements connected with the
arts of husbandry. In exchange for such merchandise it obtained articles
more of luxury than necessity. There were few things imported on which
they set a higher price than birds taught to pipe artful tunes in
concert. These were brought from a great distance, and were marvellous
for beauty of song and plumage. I understand that extraordinary care was
taken by their breeders and teachers in selection, and that the species
had wonderfully improved during the last few years. I saw no other
pet animals among this community except some very amusing and sportive
creatures of the Batrachian species, resembling frogs, but with very
intelligent countenances, which the children were fond of, and kept in
their private gardens. They appear to have no animals akin to our dogs
or horses, though that learned naturalist, Zee, informed me that such
creatures had once existed in those parts, and might now be found in
regions inhabited by other races than the Vril-ya. She said that they
had gradually disappeared from the more civilised world since the
discovery of vril, and the results attending that discovery had
dispensed with their uses. Machinery and the invention of wings had
superseded the horse as a beast of burden; and the dog was no longer
wanted either for protection or the chase, as it had been when the
ancestors of the Vril-ya feared the aggressions of their own kind, or
hunted the lesser animals for food. Indeed, however, so far as the horse
was concerned, this region was so rocky that a horse could have been,
there, of little use either for pastime or burden. The only creature
they use for the latter purpose is a kind of large goat which is much
employed on farms. The nature of the surrounding soil in these
districts may be said to have first suggested the invention of wings and
air-boats. The largeness of space in proportion to the space occupied by
the city, was occasioned by the custom of surrounding every house with a
separate garden. The broad main street, in which Aph-Lin dwelt, expanded
into a vast square, in which were placed the College of Sages and all
the public offices; a magnificent fountain of the luminous fluid which I
call naptha (I am ignorant of its real nature) in the centre. All these
public edifices have a uniform character of massiveness and solidity.
They reminded me of the architectural pictures of Martin. Along the
upper stories of each ran a balcony, or rather a terraced garden,
supported by columns, filled with flowering plants, and tenanted by
many kinds of tame birds.

From the square branched several streets, all broad and brilliantly
lighted, and ascending up the eminence on either side. In my excursions
in the town I was never allowed to go alone; Aph-Lin or his daughter was
my habitual companion. In this community the adult Gy is seen walking
with any young An as familiarly as if there were no difference of sex.

The retail shops are not very numerous; the persons who attend on a
customer are all children of various ages, and exceedingly intelligent
and courteous, but without the least touch of importunity or cringing.
The shopkeeper himself might or might not be visible; when visible, he
seemed rarely employed on any matter connected with his professional
business; and yet he had taken to that business from special liking for
it, and quite independently of his general sources of fortune.

The Ana of the community are, on the whole, an indolent set of beings
after the active age of childhood. Whether by temperament or philosophy,
they rank repose among the chief blessings of life. Indeed, when you
take away from a human being the incentives to action which are found in
cupidity or ambition, it seems to me no wonder that he rests quiet.

In their ordinary movements they prefer the use of their feet to that
of their wings. But for their sports or (to indulge in a bold misuse of
terms) their public \x91promenades,\x92 they employ the latter, also for the
aerial dances I have described, as well as for visiting their country
places, which are mostly placed on lofty heights; and, when still young,
they prefer their wings for travel into the other regions of the Ana, to
vehicular conveyances.

Those who accustom themselves to flight can fly, if less rapidly than
some birds, yet from twenty-five to thirty miles an hour, and keep up
that rate for five or six hours at a stretch. But the Ana generally, on
reaching middle age, are not fond of rapid movements requiring violent
exercise. Perhaps for this reason, as they hold a doctrine which our
own physicians will doubtless approve--viz., that regular transpiration
through the pores of the skin is essential to health, they habitually
use the sweating-baths to which we give the name Turkish or Roman,
succeeded by douches of perfumed waters. They have great faith in the
salubrious virtue of certain perfumes.

It is their custom also, at stated but rare periods, perhaps four times
a-year when in health, to use a bath charged with vril.*

* I once tried the effect of the vril bath. It was very similar in its
invigorating powers to that of the baths at Gastein, the virtues
of which are ascribed by many physicians to electricity; but though
similar, the effect of the vril bath was more lasting.

They consider that this fluid, sparingly used, is a great sustainer of
life; but used in excess, when in the normal state of health, rather
tends to reaction and exhausted vitality. For nearly all their diseases,
however, they resort to it as the chief assistant to nature in throwing
off their complaint.

In their own way they are the most luxurious of people, but all their
luxuries are innocent. They may be said to dwell in an atmosphere of
music and fragrance. Every room has its mechanical contrivances for
melodious sounds, usually tuned down to soft-murmured notes, which seem
like sweet whispers from invisible spirits. They are too accustomed to
these gentle sounds to find them a hindrance to conversation, nor, when
alone, to reflection. But they have a notion that to breathe an air
filled with continuous melody and perfume has necessarily an effect
at once soothing and elevating upon the formation of character and the
habits of thought. Though so temperate, and with total abstinence from
other animal food than milk, and from all intoxicating drinks, they are
delicate and dainty to an extreme in food and beverage; and in all their
sports even the old exhibit a childlike gaiety. Happiness is the end at
which they aim, not as the excitement of a moment, but as the prevailing
condition of the entire existence; and regard for the happiness of each
other is evinced by the exquisite amenity of their manners.

Their conformation of skull has marked differences from that of any
known races in the upper world, though I cannot help thinking it a
development, in the course of countless ages of the Brachycephalic type
of the Age of Stone in Lyell\x92s \x91Elements of Geology,\x92 C. X., p. 113, as
compared with the Dolichocephalic type of the beginning of the Age of
Iron, correspondent with that now so prevalent amongst us, and called
the Celtic type. It has the same comparative massiveness of forehead,
not receding like the Celtic--the same even roundness in the frontal
organs; but it is far loftier in the apex, and far less pronounced
in the hinder cranial hemisphere where phrenologists place the animal
organs. To speak as a phrenologist, the cranium common to the Vril-ya
has the organs of weight, number, tune, form, order, causality, very
largely developed; that of construction much more pronounced than
that of ideality. Those which are called the moral organs, such as
conscientiousness and benevolence, are amazingly full; amativeness
and combativeness are both small; adhesiveness large; the organ of
destructiveness (i.e., of determined clearance of intervening
obstacles) immense, but less than that of benevolence; and their
philoprogenitiveness takes rather the character of compassion and
tenderness to things that need aid or protection than of the animal love
of offspring. I never met with one person deformed or misshapen. The
beauty of their countenances is not only in symmetry of feature, but in
a smoothness of surface, which continues without line or wrinkle to the
extreme of old age, and a serene sweetness of expression, combined with
that majesty which seems to come from consciousness of power and the
freedom of all terror, physical or moral. It is that very sweetness,
combined with that majesty, which inspired in a beholder like myself,
accustomed to strive with the passions of mankind, a sentiment of
humiliation, of awe, of dread. It is such an expression as a painter
might give to a demi-god, a genius, an angel. The males of the Vril-ya
are entirely beardless; the Gy-ei sometimes, in old age, develop a small
moustache.

I was surprised to find that the colour of their skin was not uniformly
that which I had remarked in those individuals whom I had first
encountered,--some being much fairer, and even with blue eyes, and hair
of a deep golden auburn, though still of complexions warmer or richer in
tone than persons in the north of Europe.

I was told that this admixture of colouring arose from intermarriage
with other and more distant tribes of the Vril-ya, who, whether by the
accident of climate or early distinction of race, were of fairer hues
than the tribes of which this community formed one. It was considered
that the dark-red skin showed the most ancient family of Ana; but they
attached no sentiment of pride to that antiquity, and, on the contrary,
believed their present excellence of breed came from frequent crossing
with other families differing, yet akin; and they encourage such
intermarriages, always provided that it be with the Vril-ya nations.
Nations which, not conforming their manners and institutions to those
of the Vril-ya, nor indeed held capable of acquiring the powers over
the vril agencies which it had taken them generations to attain and
transmit, were regarded with more disdain than the citizens of New York
regard the negroes.

I learned from Zee, who had more lore in all matters than any male with
whom I was brought into familiar converse, that the superiority of
the Vril-ya was supposed to have originated in the intensity of their
earlier struggles against obstacles in nature amidst the localities
in which they had first settled. \x93Wherever,\x94 said Zee, moralising,
\x93wherever goes on that early process in the history of civilisation, by
which life is made a struggle, in which the individual has to put forth
all his powers to compete with his fellow, we invariably find this
result--viz., since in the competition a vast number must perish, nature
selects for preservation only the strongest specimens. With our
race, therefore, even before the discovery of vril, only the highest
organisations were preserved; and there is among our ancient books a
legend, once popularly believed, that we were driven from a region
that seems to denote the world you come from, in order to perfect our
condition and attain to the purest elimination of our species by the
severity of the struggles our forefathers underwent; and that, when our
education shall become finally completed, we are destined to return
to the upper world, and supplant all the inferior races now existing
therein.\x94

Aph-Lin and Zee often conversed with me in private upon the
political and social conditions of that upper world, in which Zee so
philosophically assumed that the inhabitants were to be exterminated
one day or other by the advent of the Vril-ya. They found in my
accounts,--in which I continued to do all I could (without launching
into falsehoods so positive that they would have been easily detected by
the shrewdness of my listeners) to present our powers and ourselves in
the most flattering point of view,--perpetual subjects of comparison
between our most civilised populations and the meaner subterranean races
which they considered hopelessly plunged in barbarism, and doomed to
gradual if certain extinction. But they both agreed in desiring to
conceal from their community all premature opening into the regions
lighted by the sun; both were humane, and shrunk from the thought of
annihilating so many millions of creatures; and the pictures I drew of
our life, highly coloured as they were, saddened them. In vain I boasted
of our great men--poets, philosophers, orators, generals--and defied the
Vril-ya to produce their equals. \x93Alas,\x94 said Zee, \x93this predominance
of the few over the many is the surest and most fatal sign of a race
incorrigibly savage. See you not that the primary condition of mortal
happiness consists in the extinction of that strife and competition
between individuals, which, no matter what forms of government they
adopt, render the many subordinate to the few, destroy real liberty to
the individual, whatever may be the nominal liberty of the state, and
annul that calm of existence, without which, felicity, mental or bodily,
cannot be attained? Our notion is, that the more we can assimilate life
to the existence which our noblest ideas can conceive to be that of
spirits on the other side of the grave, why, the more we approximate
to a divine happiness here, and the more easily we glide into the
conditions of being hereafter. For, surely, all we can imagine of the
life of gods, or of blessed immortals, supposes the absence of self-made
cares and contentious passions, such as avarice and ambition. It seems
to us that it must be a life of serene tranquility, not indeed without
active occupations to the intellectual or spiritual powers,
but occupations, of whatsoever nature they be, congenial to the
idiosyncrasies of each, not forced and repugnant--a life gladdened by
the untrammelled interchange of gentle affections, in which the moral
atmosphere utterly kills hate and vengeance, and strife and rivalry.
Such is the political state to which all the tribes and families of
the Vril-ya seek to attain, and towards that goal all our theories of
government are shaped. You see how utterly opposed is such a progress to
that of the uncivilised nations from which you come, and which aim at
a systematic perpetuity of troubles, and cares, and warring passions
aggravated more and more as their progress storms its way onward. The
most powerful of all the races in our world, beyond the pale of the
Vril-ya, esteems itself the best governed of all political societies,
and to have reached in that respect the extreme end at which political
wisdom can arrive, so that the other nations should tend more or less to
copy it. It has established, on its broadest base, the Koom-Posh--viz.,
the government of the ignorant upon the principle of being the most
numerous. It has placed the supreme bliss in the vying with each other
in all things, so that the evil passions are never in repose--vying for
power, for wealth, for eminence of some kind; and in this rivalry it
is horrible to hear the vituperation, the slanders, and calumnies which
even the best and mildest among them heap on each other without remorse
or shame.\x94

\x93Some years ago,\x94 said Aph-Lin, \x93I visited this people, and their
misery and degradation were the more appalling because they were always
boasting of their felicity and grandeur as compared with the rest of
their species. And there is no hope that this people, which evidently
resembles your own, can improve, because all their notions tend to
further deterioration. They desire to enlarge their dominion more and
more, in direct antagonism to the truth that, beyond a very limited
range, it is impossible to secure to a community the happiness which
belongs to a well-ordered family; and the more they mature a system
by which a few individuals are heated and swollen to a size above the
standard slenderness of the millions, the more they chuckle and exact,
and cry out, \x91See by what great exceptions to the common littleness of
our race we prove the magnificent results of our system!\x92\x94

\x93In fact,\x94 resumed Zee, \x93if the wisdom of human life be to approximate
to the serene equality of immortals, there can be no more direct flying
off into the opposite direction than a system which aims at carrying
to the utmost the inequalities and turbulences of mortals. Nor do I see
how, by any forms of religious belief, mortals, so acting, could fit
themselves even to appreciate the joys of immortals to which they still
expect to be transferred by the mere act of dying. On the contrary,
minds accustomed to place happiness in things so much the reverse of
godlike, would find the happiness of gods exceedingly dull, and would
long to get back to a world in which they could quarrel with each
other.\x94



Chapter XVI.


I have spoken so much of the Vril Staff that my reader may expect me
to describe it. This I cannot do accurately, for I was never allowed to
handle it for fear of some terrible accident occasioned by my ignorance
of its use; and I have no doubt that it requires much skill and practice
in the exercise of its various powers. It is hollow, and has in the
handle several stops, keys, or springs by which its force can be
altered, modified, or directed--so that by one process it destroys, by
another it heals--by one it can rend the rock, by another disperse the
vapour--by one it affects bodies, by another it can exercise a certain
influence over minds. It is usually carried in the convenient size of
a walking-staff, but it has slides by which it can be lengthened or
shortened at will. When used for special purposes, the upper part rests
in the hollow of the palm with the fore and middle fingers protruded.
I was assured, however, that its power was not equal in all, but
proportioned to the amount of certain vril properties in the wearer in
affinity, or \x91rapport\x92 with the purposes to be effected. Some were more
potent to destroy, others to heal, &c.; much also depended on the calm
and steadiness of volition in the manipulator. They assert that the
full exercise of vril power can only be acquired by the constitutional
temperament--i.e., by hereditarily transmitted organisation--and that
a female infant of four years old belonging to the Vril-ya races can
accomplish feats which a life spent in its practice would not enable
the strongest and most skilled mechanician, born out of the pale of the
Vril-ya to achieve. All these wands are not equally complicated; those
intrusted to children are much simpler than those borne by sages of
either sex, and constructed with a view to the special object on which
the children are employed; which as I have before said, is among the
youngest children the most destructive. In the wands of wives and
mothers the correlative destroying force is usually abstracted, the
healing power fully charged. I wish I could say more in detail of this
singular conductor of the vril fluid, but its machinery is as exquisite
as its effects are marvellous.

I should say, however, that this people have invented certain tubes by
which the vril fluid can be conducted towards the object it is meant
to destroy, throughout a distance almost indefinite; at least I put
it modestly when I say from 500 to 1000 miles. And their mathematical
science as applied to such purpose is so nicely accurate, that on
the report of some observer in an air-boat, any member of the vril
department can estimate unerringly the nature of intervening obstacles,
the height to which the projectile instrument should be raised, and the
extent to which it should be charged, so as to reduce to ashes within a
space of time too short for me to venture to specify it, a capital twice
as vast as London.

Certainly these Ana are wonderful mathematicians--wonderful for the
adaptation of the inventive faculty to practical uses.

I went with my host and his daughter Zee over the great public museum,
which occupies a wing in the College of Sages, and in which are hoarded,
as curious specimens of the ignorant and blundering experiments of
ancient times, many contrivances on which we pride ourselves as recent
achievements. In one department, carelessly thrown aside as obsolete
lumber, are tubes for destroying life by metallic balls and an
inflammable powder, on the principle of our cannons and catapults, and
even still more murderous than our latest improvements.

My host spoke of these with a smile of contempt, such as an artillery
officer might bestow on the bows and arrows of the Chinese. In another
department there were models of vehicles and vessels worked by steam,
and of an air-balloon which might have been constructed by Montgolfier.
\x93Such,\x94 said Zee, with an air of meditative wisdom--\x93such were the
feeble triflings with nature of our savage forefathers, ere they had
even a glimmering perception of the properties of vril!\x94

This young Gy was a magnificent specimen of the muscular force to which
the females of her country attain. Her features were beautiful, like
those of all her race: never in the upper world have I seen a face so
grand and so faultless, but her devotion to the severer studies had
given to her countenance an expression of abstract thought which
rendered it somewhat stern when in repose; and such a sternness became
formidable when observed in connection with her ample shoulders and
lofty stature. She was tall even for a Gy, and I saw her lift up a
cannon as easily as I could lift a pocket-pistol. Zee inspired me with a
profound terror--a terror which increased when we came into a department
of the museum appropriated to models of contrivances worked by the
agency of vril; for here, merely by a certain play of her vril staff,
she herself standing at a distance, she put into movement large and
weighty substances. She seemed to endow them with intelligence, and to
make them comprehend and obey her command. She set complicated pieces of
machinery into movement, arrested the movement or continued it, until,
within an incredibly short time, various kinds of raw material were
reproduced as symmetrical works of art, complete and perfect. Whatever
effect mesmerism or electro-biology produces over the nerves and muscles
of animated objects, this young Gy produced by the motions of her
slender rod over the springs and wheels of lifeless mechanism.

When I mentioned to my companions my astonishment at this influence
over inanimate matter--while owning that, in our world, I had witnessed
phenomena which showed that over certain living organisations certain
other living organisations could establish an influence genuine in
itself, but often exaggerated by credulity or craft--Zee, who was more
interested in such subjects than her father, bade me stretch forth my
hand, and then, placing it beside her own, she called my attention to
certain distinctions of type and character. In the first place, the
thumb of the Gy (and, as I afterwards noticed, of all that race, male or
female) was much larger, at once longer and more massive, than is found
with our species above ground. There is almost, in this, as great a
difference as there is between the thumb of a man and that of a gorilla.
Secondly, the palm is proportionally thicker than ours--the texture of
the skin infinitely finer and softer--its average warmth is greater.
More remarkable than all this, is a visible nerve, perceptible under the
skin, which starts from the wrist skirting the ball of the thumb, and
branching, fork-like, at the roots of the fore and middle fingers. \x93With
your slight formation of thumb,\x94 said the philosophical young Gy, \x93and
with the absence of the nerve which you find more or less developed in
the hands of our race, you can never achieve other than imperfect
and feeble power over the agency of vril; but so far as the nerve is
concerned, that is not found in the hands of our earliest progenitors,
nor in those of the ruder tribes without the pale of the Vril-ya. It has
been slowly developed in the course of generations, commencing in the
early achievements, and increasing with the continuous exercise, of the
vril power; therefore, in the course of one or two thousand years, such
a nerve may possibly be engendered in those higher beings of your
race, who devote themselves to that paramount science through which
is attained command over all the subtler forces of nature permeated
by vril. But when you talk of matter as something in itself inert
and motionless, your parents or tutors surely cannot have left you so
ignorant as not to know that no form of matter is motionless and inert:
every particle is constantly in motion and constantly acted upon by
agencies, of which heat is the most apparent and rapid, but vril the
most subtle, and, when skilfully wielded, the most powerful. So that,
in fact, the current launched by my hand and guided by my will does but
render quicker and more potent the action which is eternally at work
upon every particle of matter, however inert and stubborn it may seem.
If a heap of metal be not capable of originating a thought of its own,
yet, through its internal susceptibility to movement, it obtains the
power to receive the thought of the intellectual agent at work on it; by
which, when conveyed with a sufficient force of the vril power, it is
as much compelled to obey as if it were displaced by a visible bodily
force. It is animated for the time being by the soul thus infused into
it, so that one may almost say that it lives and reasons. Without this
we could not make our automata supply the place of servants.\x94

I was too much in awe of the thews and the learning of the young Gy
to hazard the risk of arguing with her. I had read somewhere in my
schoolboy days that a wise man, disputing with a Roman Emperor, suddenly
drew in his horns; and when the emperor asked him whether he had nothing
further to say on his side of the question, replied, \x93Nay, Caesar, there
is no arguing against a reasoner who commands ten legions.\x94

Though I had a secret persuasion that, whatever the real effects of
vril upon matter, Mr. Faraday could have proved her a very shallow
philosopher as to its extent or its causes, I had no doubt that Zee
could have brained all the Fellows of the Royal Society, one after the
other, with a blow of her fist. Every sensible man knows that it is
useless to argue with any ordinary female upon matters he comprehends;
but to argue with a Gy seven feet high upon the mysteries of vril,--as
well argue in a desert, and with a simoon!

Amid the various departments to which the vast building of the College
of Sages was appropriated, that which interested me most was devoted to
the archaeology of the Vril-ya, and comprised a very ancient collection
of portraits. In these the pigments and groundwork employed were of
so durable a nature that even pictures said to be executed at dates as
remote as those in the earliest annals of the Chinese, retained much
freshness of colour. In examining this collection, two things especially
struck me:--first, that the pictures said to be between 6000 and 7000
years old were of a much higher degree of art than any produced within
the last 3000 or 4000 years; and, second, that the portraits within the
former period much more resembled our own upper world and European types
of countenance. Some of them, indeed reminded me of the Italian heads
which look out from the canvases of Titian--speaking of ambition or
craft, of care or of grief, with furrows in which the passions have
passed with iron ploughshare. These were the countenances of men who had
lived in struggle and conflict before the discovery of the latent forces
of vril had changed the character of society--men who had fought with
each other for power or fame as we in the upper world fight.

The type of face began to evince a marked change about a thousand years
after the vril revolution, becoming then, with each generation, more
serene, and in that serenity more terribly distinct from the faces of
labouring and sinful men; while in proportion as the beauty and the
grandeur of the countenance itself became more fully developed, the art
of the painter became more tame and monotonous.

But the greatest curiosity in the collection was that of three portraits
belonging to the pre-historical age, and, according to mythical
tradition, taken by the orders of a philosopher, whose origin and
attributes were as much mixed up with symbolical fable as those of an
Indian Budh or a Greek Prometheus.

From this mysterious personage, at once a sage and a hero, all the
principal sections of the Vril-ya race pretend to trace a common origin.

The portraits are of the philosopher himself, of his grandfather, and
great-grandfather. They are all at full length. The philosopher is
attired in a long tunic which seems to form a loose suit of scaly
armour, borrowed, perhaps, from some fish or reptile, but the feet and
hands are exposed: the digits in both are wonderfully long, and webbed.
He has little or no perceptible throat, and a low receding forehead, not
at all the ideal of a sage\x92s. He has bright brown prominent eyes, a very
wide mouth and high cheekbones, and a muddy complexion. According to
tradition, this philosopher had lived to a patriarchal age, extending
over many centuries, and he remembered distinctly in middle life his
grandfather as surviving, and in childhood his great-grandfather; the
portrait of the first he had taken, or caused to be taken, while yet
alive--that of the latter was taken from his effigies in mummy.
The portrait of his grandfather had the features and aspect of the
philosopher, only much more exaggerated: he was not dressed, and the
colour of his body was singular; the breast and stomach yellow, the
shoulders and legs of a dull bronze hue: the great-grandfather was a
magnificent specimen of the Batrachian genus, a Giant Frog, \x91pur et
simple.\x92

Among the pithy sayings which, according to tradition, the philosopher
bequeathed to posterity in rhythmical form and sententious brevity, this
is notably recorded: \x93Humble yourselves, my descendants; the father of
your race was a \x91twat\x92 (tadpole): exalt yourselves, my descendants, for
it was the same Divine Thought which created your father that develops
itself in exalting you.\x94

Aph-Lin told me this fable while I gazed on the three Batrachian
portraits. I said in reply: \x93You make a jest of my supposed ignorance
and credulity as an uneducated Tish, but though these horrible daubs
may be of great antiquity, and were intended, perhaps, for some
rude caracature, I presume that none of your race even in the less
enlightened ages, ever believed that the great-grandson of a Frog became
a sententious philosopher; or that any section, I will not say of the
lofty Vril-ya, but of the meanest varieties of the human race, had its
origin in a Tadpole.\x94

\x93Pardon me,\x94 answered Aph-Lin: \x93in what we call the Wrangling or
Philosophical Period of History, which was at its height about seven
thousand years ago, there was a very distinguished naturalist, who
proved to the satisfaction of numerous disciples such analogical and
anatomical agreements in structure between an An and a Frog, as to
show that out of the one must have developed the other. They had some
diseases in common; they were both subject to the same parasitical worms
in the intestines; and, strange to say, the An has, in his structure, a
swimming-bladder, no longer of any use to him, but which is a rudiment
that clearly proves his descent from a Frog. Nor is there any argument
against this theory to be found in the relative difference of size, for
there are still existent in our world Frogs of a size and stature not
inferior to our own, and many thousand years ago they appear to have
been still larger.\x94

\x93I understand that,\x94 said I, \x93because Frogs this enormous are, according
to our eminent geologists, who perhaps saw them in dreams, said to have
been distinguished inhabitants of the upper world before the Deluge; and
such Frogs are exactly the creatures likely to have flourished in the
lakes and morasses of your subterranean regions. But pray, proceed.\x94

\x93In the Wrangling Period of History, whatever one sage asserted another
sage was sure to contradict. In fact, it was a maxim in that age, that
the human reason could only be sustained aloft by being tossed to and
fro in the perpetual motion of contradiction; and therefore another
sect of philosophers maintained the doctrine that the An was not the
descendant of the Frog, but that the Frog was clearly the improved
development of the An. The shape of the Frog, taken generally, was much
more symmetrical than that of the An; beside the beautiful conformation
of its lower limbs, its flanks and shoulders the majority of the Ana in
that day were almost deformed, and certainly ill-shaped. Again, the Frog
had the power to live alike on land and in water--a mighty privilege,
partaking of a spiritual essence denied to the An, since the disuse
of his swimming-bladder clearly proves his degeneration from a higher
development of species. Again, the earlier races of the Ana seem to
have been covered with hair, and, even to a comparatively recent date,
hirsute bushes deformed the very faces of our ancestors, spreading wild
over their cheeks and chins, as similar bushes, my poor Tish, spread
wild over yours. But the object of the higher races of the Ana through
countless generations has been to erase all vestige of connection with
hairy vertebrata, and they have gradually eliminated that debasing
capillary excrement by the law of sexual selection; the Gy-ei naturally
preferring youth or the beauty of smooth faces. But the degree of the
Frog in the scale of the vertebrata is shown in this, that he has
no hair at all, not even on his head. He was born to that hairless
perfection which the most beautiful of the Ana, despite the culture of
incalculable ages, have not yet attained. The wonderful complication and
delicacy of a Frog\x92s nervous system and arterial circulation were shown
by this school to be more susceptible of enjoyment than our inferior, or
at least simpler, physical frame allows us to be. The examination of
a Frog\x92s hand, if I may use that expression, accounted for its keener
susceptibility to love, and to social life in general. In fact,
gregarious and amatory as are the Ana, Frogs are still more so. In
short, these two schools raged against each other; one asserting the An
to be the perfected type of the Frog; the other that the Frog was the
highest development of the An. The moralists were divided in
opinion with the naturalists, but the bulk of them sided with the
Frog-preference school. They said, with much plausibility, that in moral
conduct (viz., in the adherence to rules best adapted to the health and
welfare of the individual and the community) there could be no doubt
of the vast superiority of the Frog. All history showed the wholesale
immorality of the human race, the complete disregard, even by the
most renowned amongst them, of the laws which they acknowledged to be
essential to their own and the general happiness and wellbeing. But the
severest critic of the Frog race could not detect in their manners a
single aberration from the moral law tacitly recognised by themselves.
And what, after all, can be the profit of civilisation if superiority in
moral conduct be not the aim for which it strives, and the test by which
its progress should be judged?

\x93In fine, the adherents of this theory presumed that in some remote
period the Frog race had been the improved development of the Human; but
that, from some causes which defied rational conjecture, they had not
maintained their original position in the scale of nature; while the
Ana, though of inferior organisation, had, by dint less of their virtues
than their vices, such as ferocity and cunning, gradually acquired
ascendancy, much as among the human race itself tribes utterly barbarous
have, by superiority in similar vices, utterly destroyed or reduced
into insignificance tribes originally excelling them in mental gifts
and culture. Unhappily these disputes became involved with the religious
notions of that age; and as society was then administered under the
government of the Koom-Posh, who, being the most ignorant, were of
course the most inflammable class--the multitude took the whole question
out of the hands of the philosophers; political chiefs saw that the
Frog dispute, so taken up by the populace, could become a most valuable
instrument of their ambition; and for not less than one thousand years
war and massacre prevailed, during which period the philosophers on both
sides were butchered, and the government of Koom-Posh itself was happily
brought to an end by the ascendancy of a family that clearly established
its descent from the aboriginal tadpole, and furnished despotic rulers
to the various nations of the Ana. These despots finally disappeared, at
least from our communities, as the discovery of vril led to the tranquil
institutions under which flourish all the races of the Vril-ya.\x94

\x93And do no wranglers or philosophers now exist to revive the dispute; or
do they all recognise the origin of your race in the tadpole?\x94

\x93Nay, such disputes,\x94 said Zee, with a lofty smile, \x93belong to the
Pah-bodh of the dark ages, and now only serve for the amusement of
infants. When we know the elements out of which our bodies are composed,
elements in common to the humblest vegetable plants, can it signify
whether the All-Wise combined those elements out of one form more than
another, in order to create that in which He has placed the capacity to
receive the idea of Himself, and all the varied grandeurs of intellect
to which that idea gives birth? The An in reality commenced to exist
as An with the donation of that capacity, and, with that capacity, the
sense to acknowledge that, however through the countless ages his race
may improve in wisdom, it can never combine the elements at its command
into the form of a tadpole.\x94

\x93You speak well, Zee,\x94 said Aph-Lin; \x93and it is enough for us shortlived
mortals to feel a reasonable assurance that whether the origin of the
An was a tadpole or not, he is no more likely to become a tadpole again
than the institutions of the Vril-ya are likely to relapse into the
heaving quagmire and certain strife-rot of a Koom-Posh.\x94


Chapter XVII.


The Vril-ya, being excluded from all sight of the heavenly bodies, and
having no other difference between night and day than that which they
deem it convenient to make for themselves,--do not, of course, arrive at
their divisions of time by the same process that we do; but I found it
easy by the aid of my watch, which I luckily had about me, to compute
their time with great nicety. I reserve for a future work on the science
and literature of the Vril-ya, should I live to complete it, all details
as to the manner in which they arrive at their rotation of time; and
content myself here with saying, that in point of duration, their year
differs very slightly from ours, but that the divisions of their year
are by no means the same. Their day, (including what we call night)
consists of twenty hours of our time, instead of twenty-four, and of
course their year comprises the correspondent increase in the number of
days by which it is summed up. They subdivide the twenty hours of their
day thus--eight hours,* called the \x93Silent Hours,\x94 for repose; eight
hours, called the \x93Earnest Time,\x94 for the pursuits and occupations of
life; and four hours called the \x93Easy Time\x94 (with which what I may term
their day closes), allotted to festivities, sport, recreation, or family
converse, according to their several tastes and inclinations.

* For the sake of convenience, I adopt the word hours, days, years,
&c., in any general reference to subdivisions of time among the Vril-ya;
those terms but loosely corresponding, however, with such subdivisions.

But, in truth, out of doors there is no night. They maintain, both
in the streets and in the surrounding country, to the limits of their
territory, the same degree of light at all hours. Only, within doors,
they lower it to a soft twilight during the Silent Hours. They have
a great horror of perfect darkness, and their lights are never wholly
extinguished. On occasions of festivity they continue the duration of
full light, but equally keep note of the distinction between night and
day, by mechanical contrivances which answer the purpose of our clocks
and watches. They are very fond of music; and it is by music that these
chronometers strike the principal division of time. At every one
of their hours, during their day, the sounds coming from all the
time-pieces in their public buildings, and caught up, as it were, by
those of houses or hamlets scattered amidst the landscapes without the
city, have an effect singularly sweet, and yet singularly solemn.
But during the Silent Hours these sounds are so subdued as to be only
faintly heard by a waking ear. They have no change of seasons, and, at
least on the territory of this tribe, the atmosphere seemed to me very
equable, warm as that of an Italian summer, and humid rather than dry;
in the forenoon usually very still, but at times invaded by strong
blasts from the rocks that made the borders of their domain. But time
is the same to them for sowing or reaping as in the Golden Isles of the
ancient poets. At the same moment you see the younger plants in blade or
bud, the older in ear or fruit. All fruit-bearing plants, however, after
fruitage, either shed or change the colour of their leaves. But that
which interested me most in reckoning up their divisions of time was the
ascertainment of the average duration of life amongst them. I found on
minute inquiry that this very considerably exceeded the term allotted to
us on the upper earth. What seventy years are to us, one hundred
years are to them. Nor is this the only advantage they have over us in
longevity, for as few among us attain to the age of seventy, so, on the
contrary, few among them die before the age of one hundred; and they
enjoy a general degree of health and vigour which makes life itself a
blessing even to the last. Various causes contribute to this result:
the absence of all alcoholic stimulants; temperance in food; more
especially, perhaps, a serenity of mind undisturbed by anxious
occupations and eager passions. They are not tormented by our avarice
or our ambition; they appear perfectly indifferent even to the desire of
fame; they are capable of great affection, but their love shows
itself in a tender and cheerful complaisance, and, while forming their
happiness, seems rarely, if ever, to constitute their woe. As the Gy is
sure only to marry where she herself fixes her choice, and as here, not
less than above ground, it is the female on whom the happiness of home
depends; so the Gy, having chosen the mate she prefers to all others, is
lenient to his faults, consults his humours, and does her best to secure
his attachment. The death of a beloved one is of course with them, as
with us, a cause for sorrow; but not only is death with them so much
more rare before that age in which it becomes a release, but when it
does occur the survivor takes much more consolation than, I am afraid,
the generality of us do, in the certainty of reunion in another and yet
happier life.

All these causes, then, concur to their healthful and enjoyable
longevity, though, no doubt, much also must be owing to hereditary
organisation. According to their records, however, in those earlier
stages of their society when they lived in communities resembling ours,
agitated by fierce competition, their lives were considerably shorter,
and their maladies more numerous and grave. They themselves say that
the duration of life, too, has increased, and is still on the increase,
since their discovery of the invigorating and medicinal properties of
vril, applied for remedial purposes. They have few professional and
regular practitioners of medicine, and these are chiefly Gy-ei, who,
especially if widowed and childless, find great delight in the healing
art, and even undertake surgical operations in those cases required by
accident, or, more rarely, by disease.

They have their diversions and entertainments, and, during the Easy
Time of their day, they are wont to assemble in great numbers for those
winged sports in the air which I have already described. They have also
public halls for music, and even theatres, at which are performed
pieces that appeared to me somewhat to resemble the plays of the
Chinese--dramas that are thrown back into distant times for their events
and personages, in which all classic unities are outrageously violated,
and the hero, in once scene a child, in the next is an old man, and so
forth. These plays are of very ancient composition, and their stories
cast in remote times. They appeared to me very dull, on the whole,
but were relieved by startling mechanical contrivances, and a kind of
farcical broad humour, and detached passages of great vigour and power
expressed in language highly poetical, but somewhat overcharged with
metaphor and trope. In fine, they seemed to me very much what the plays
of Shakespeare seemed to a Parisian in the time of Louis XV., or perhaps
to an Englishman in the reign of Charles II.

The audience, of which the Gy-ei constituted the chief portion, appeared
to enjoy greatly the representation of these dramas, which, for so
sedate and majestic a race of females, surprised me, till I observed
that all the performers were under the age of adolescence, and
conjectured truly that the mothers and sisters came to please their
children and brothers.

I have said that these dramas are of great antiquity. No new plays,
indeed no imaginative works sufficiently important to survive their
immediate day, appear to have been composed for several generations. In
fact, though there is no lack of new publications, and they have even
what may be called newspapers, these are chiefly devoted to mechanical
science, reports of new inventions, announcements respecting various
details of business--in short, to practical matters. Sometimes a child
writes a little tale of adventure, or a young Gy vents her amorous hopes
or fears in a poem; but these effusions are of very little merit,
and are seldom read except by children and maiden Gy-ei. The most
interesting works of a purely literary character are those of
explorations and travels into other regions of this nether world,
which are generally written by young emigrants, and are read with great
avidity by the relations and friends they have left behind.

I could not help expressing to Aph-Lin my surprise that a community in
which mechanical science had made so marvellous a progress, and in
which intellectual civilisation had exhibited itself in realising
those objects for the happiness of the people, which the political
philosophers above ground had, after ages of struggle, pretty generally
agreed to consider unattainable visions, should, nevertheless, be so
wholly without a contemporaneous literature, despite the excellence
to which culture had brought a language at once so rich and simple,
vigourous and musical.

My host replied--\x93Do you not perceive that a literature such as you mean
would be wholly incompatible with that perfection of social or political
felicity at which you do us the honour to think we have arrived? We have
at last, after centuries of struggle, settled into a form of government
with which we are content, and in which, as we allow no differences of
rank, and no honours are paid to administrators distinguishing them from
others, there is no stimulus given to individual ambition. No one would
read works advocating theories that involved any political or social
change, and therefore no one writes them. If now and then an An feels
himself dissatisfied with our tranquil mode of life, he does not attack
it; he goes away. Thus all that part of literature (and to judge by the
ancient books in our public libraries, it was once a very large part),
which relates to speculative theories on society is become utterly
extinct. Again, formerly there was a vast deal written respecting
the attributes and essence of the All-Good, and the arguments for and
against a future state; but now we all recognise two facts, that there
IS a Divine Being, and there IS a future state, and we all equally agree
that if we wrote our fingers to the bone, we could not throw any light
upon the nature and conditions of that future state, or quicken our
apprehensions of the attributes and essence of that Divine Being. Thus
another part of literature has become also extinct, happily for our
race; for in the time when so much was written on subjects which no one
could determine, people seemed to live in a perpetual state of quarrel
and contention. So, too, a vast part of our ancient literature consists
of historical records of wars an revolutions during the times when the
Ana lived in large and turbulent societies, each seeking aggrandisement
at the expense of the other. You see our serene mode of life now; such
it has been for ages. We have no events to chronicle. What more of us
can be said than that, \x91they were born, they were happy, they died?\x92
Coming next to that part of literature which is more under the control
of the imagination, such as what we call Glaubsila, or colloquially
\x91Glaubs,\x92 and you call poetry, the reasons for its decline amongst us
are abundantly obvious.

\x93We find, by referring to the great masterpieces in that department
of literature which we all still read with pleasure, but of which none
would tolerate imitations, that they consist in the portraiture of
passions which we no longer experience--ambition, vengeance, unhallowed
love, the thirst for warlike renown, and suchlike. The old poets lived
in an atmosphere impregnated with these passions, and felt vividly what
they expressed glowingly. No one can express such passions now, for no
one can feel them, or meet with any sympathy in his readers if he did.
Again, the old poetry has a main element in its dissection of those
complex mysteries of human character which conduce to abnormal vices and
crimes, or lead to signal and extraordinary virtues. But our society,
having got rid of temptations to any prominent vices and crimes, has
necessarily rendered the moral average so equal, that there are no
very salient virtues. Without its ancient food of strong passions, vast
crimes, heroic excellences, poetry therefore is, if not actually starved
to death, reduced to a very meagre diet. There is still the poetry of
description--description of rocks, and trees, and waters, and common
household life; and our young Gy-ei weave much of this insipid kind of
composition into their love verses.\x94

\x93Such poetry,\x94 said I, \x93might surely be made very charming; and we have
critics amongst us who consider it a higher kind than that which depicts
the crimes, or analyses the passions, of man. At all events, poetry of
the inspired kind you mention is a poetry that nowadays commands more
readers than any other among the people I have left above ground.\x94

\x93Possibly; but then I suppose the writers take great pains with the
language they employ, and devote themselves to the culture and polish of
words and rhythms of an art?\x94

\x93Certainly they do: all great poets do that. Though the gift of poetry
may be inborn, the gift requires as much care to make it available as a
block of metal does to be made into one of your engines.\x94

\x93And doubtless your poets have some incentive to bestow all those pains
upon such verbal prettinesses?\x94

\x93Well, I presume their instinct of song would make them sing as the bird
does; but to cultivate the song into verbal or artificial prettiness,
probably does need an inducement from without, and our poets find it in
the love of fame--perhaps, now and then, in the want of money.\x94

\x93Precisely so. But in our society we attach fame to nothing which man,
in that moment of his duration which is called \x91life,\x92 can perform. We
should soon lose that equality which constitutes the felicitous essence
of our commonwealth if we selected any individual for pre-eminent
praise: pre-eminent praise would confer pre-eminent power, and the
moment it were given, evil passions, now dormant, would awake: other
men would immediately covet praise, then would arise envy, and with envy
hate, and with hate calumny and persecution. Our history tells us that
most of the poets and most of the writers who, in the old time, were
favoured with the greatest praise, were also assailed by the greatest
vituperation, and even, on the whole, rendered very unhappy, partly
by the attacks of jealous rivals, partly by the diseased mental
constitution which an acquired sensitiveness to praise and to blame
tends to engender. As for the stimulus of want; in the first place, no
man in our community knows the goad of poverty; and, secondly, if he
did, almost every occupation would be more lucrative than writing.

\x93Our public libraries contain all the books of the past which time has
preserved; those books, for the reasons above stated, are infinitely
better than any can write nowadays, and they are open to all to read
without cost. We are not such fools as to pay for reading inferior
books, when we can read superior books for nothing.\x94

\x93With us, novelty has an attraction; and a new book, if bad, is read
when an old book, though good, is neglected.\x94

\x93Novelty, to barbarous states of society struggling in despair for
something better, has no doubt an attraction, denied to us, who see
nothing to gain in novelties; but after all, it is observed by one of
our great authors four thousand years ago, that \x91he who studies old
books will always find in them something new, and he who reads new books
will always find in them something old.\x92 But to return to the question
you have raised, there being then amongst us no stimulus to painstaking
labour, whether in desire of fame or in pressure of want, such as have
the poetic temperament, no doubt vent it in song, as you say the bird
sings; but for lack of elaborate culture it fails of an audience,
and, failing of an audience, dies out, of itself, amidst the ordinary
avocations of life.\x94

\x93But how is it that these discouragements to the cultivation of
literature do not operate against that of science?\x94

\x93Your question amazes me. The motive to science is the love of truth
apart from all consideration of fame, and science with us too is devoted
almost solely to practical uses, essential to our social conversation
and the comforts of our daily life. No fame is asked by the inventor,
and none is given to him; he enjoys an occupation congenial to his
tastes, and needing no wear and tear of the passions. Man must have
exercise for his mind as well as body; and continuous exercise, rather
than violent, is best for both. Our most ingenious cultivators of
science are, as a general rule, the longest lived and the most free from
disease. Painting is an amusement to many, but the art is not what it
was in former times, when the great painters in our various communities
vied with each other for the prize of a golden crown, which gave them a
social rank equal to that of the kings under whom they lived. You
will thus doubtless have observed in our archaeological department how
superior in point of art the pictures were several thousand years ago.
Perhaps it is because music is, in reality, more allied to science than
it is to poetry, that, of all the pleasurable arts, music is that which
flourishes the most amongst us. Still, even in music the absence of
stimulus in praise or fame has served to prevent any great superiority
of one individual over another; and we rather excel in choral music,
with the aid of our vast mechanical instruments, in which we make great
use of the agency of water,* than in single performers.\x94

* This may remind the student of Nero\x92s invention of a musical machine,
by which water was made to perform the part of an orchestra, and on
which he was employed when the conspiracy against him broke out.

\x93We have had scarcely any original composer for some ages. Our favorite
airs are very ancient in substance, but have admitted many complicated
variations by inferior, though ingenious, musicians.\x94

\x93Are there no political societies among the Ana which are animated
by those passions, subjected to those crimes, and admitting those
disparities in condition, in intellect, and in morality, which the state
of your tribe, or indeed of the Vril-ya generally, has left behind in
its progress to perfection? If so, among such societies perhaps Poetry
and her sister arts still continue to be honoured and to improve?\x94

\x93There are such societies in remote regions, but we do not admit them
within the pale of civilised communities; we scarcely even give them the
name of Ana, and certainly not that of Vril-ya. They are savages, living
chiefly in that low stage of being, Koom-Posh, tending necessarily to
its own hideous dissolution in Glek-Nas. Their wretched existence is
passed in perpetual contest and perpetual change. When they do not fight
with their neighbours, they fight among themselves. They are divided
into sections, which abuse, plunder, and sometimes murder each
other, and on the most frivolous points of difference that would be
unintelligible to us if we had not read history, and seen that we too
have passed through the same early state of ignorance and barbarism. Any
trifle is sufficient to set them together by the ears. They pretend to
be all equals, and the more they have struggled to be so, by removing
old distinctions, and starting afresh, the more glaring and intolerable
the disparity becomes, because nothing in hereditary affections and
associations is left to soften the one naked distinction between the
many who have nothing and the few who have much. Of course the many hate
the few, but without the few they could not live. The many are always
assailing the few; sometimes they exterminate the few; but as soon as
they have done so, a new few starts out of the many, and is harder
to deal with than the old few. For where societies are large, and
competition to have something is the predominant fever, there must be
always many losers and few gainers. In short, they are savages groping
their way in the dark towards some gleam of light, and would demand our
commiseration for their infirmities, if, like all savages, they did not
provoke their own destruction by their arrogance and cruelty. Can you
imagine that creatures of this kind, armed only with such miserable
weapons as you may see in our museum of antiquities, clumsy iron tubes
charged with saltpetre, have more than once threatened with destruction
a tribe of the Vril-ya, which dwells nearest to them, because they say
they have thirty millions of population--and that tribe may have fifty
thousand--if the latter do not accept their notions of Soc-Sec (money
getting) on some trading principles which they have the impudence to
call \x91a law of civilisation\x92?\x94

\x93But thirty millions of population are formidable odds against fifty
thousand!\x94

My host stared at me astonished. \x93Stranger,\x94 said he, \x93you could not
have heard me say that this threatened tribe belongs to the Vril-ya; and
it only waits for these savages to declare war, in order to commission
some half-a-dozen small children to sweep away their whole population.\x94

At these words I felt a thrill of horror, recognising much more affinity
with \x93the savages\x94 than I did with the Vril-ya, and remembering all I
had said in praise of the glorious American institutions, which Aph-Lin
stigmatised as Koom-Posh. Recovering my self-possession, I asked
if there were modes of transit by which I could safely visit this
temerarious and remote people.

\x93You can travel with safety, by vril agency, either along the ground or
amid the air, throughout all the range of the communities with which
we are allied and akin; but I cannot vouch for your safety in barbarous
nations governed by different laws from ours; nations, indeed, so
benighted, that there are among them large numbers who actually live by
stealing from each other, and one could not with safety in the Silent
Hours even leave the doors of one\x92s own house open.\x94

Here our conversation was interrupted by the entrance of Taee, who came
to inform us that he, having been deputed to discover and destroy the
enormous reptile which I had seen on my first arrival, had been on the
watch for it ever since his visit to me, and had began to suspect that
my eyes had deceived me, or that the creature had made its way through
the cavities within the rocks to the wild regions in which dwelt its
kindred race,--when it gave evidences of its whereabouts by a great
devastation of the herbage bordering one of the lakes. \x93And,\x94 said Taee,
\x93I feel sure that within that lake it is now hiding. So,\x94 (turning to
me) \x93I thought it might amuse you to accompany me to see the way we
destroy such unpleasant visitors.\x94 As I looked at the face of the young
child, and called to mind the enormous size of the creature he proposed
to exterminate, I felt myself shudder with fear for him, and perhaps
fear for myself, if I accompanied him in such a chase. But my curiosity
to witness the destructive effects of the boasted vril, and my
unwillingness to lower myself in the eyes of an infant by betraying
apprehensions of personal safety, prevailed over my first impulse.
Accordingly, I thanked Taee for his courteous consideration for my
amusement, and professed my willingness to set out with him on so
diverting an enterprise.



Chapter XVIII.


As Taee and myself, on quitting the town, and leaving to the left the
main road which led to it, struck into the fields, the strange and
solemn beauty of the landscape, lighted up, by numberless lamps, to the
verge of the horizon, fascinated my eyes, and rendered me for some time
an inattentive listener to the talk of my companion.

Along our way various operations of agriculture were being carried on by
machinery, the forms of which were new to me, and for the most part very
graceful; for among these people art being so cultivated for the sake
of mere utility, exhibits itself in adorning or refining the shapes of
useful objects. Precious metals and gems are so profuse among them, that
they are lavished on things devoted to purposes the most commonplace;
and their love of utility leads them to beautify its tools, and quickens
their imagination in a way unknown to themselves.

In all service, whether in or out of doors, they make great use
of automaton figures, which are so ingenious, and so pliant to the
operations of vril, that they actually seem gifted with reason. It
was scarcely possible to distinguish the figures I beheld, apparently
guiding or superintending the rapid movements of vast engines, from
human forms endowed with thought.

By degrees, as we continued to walk on, my attention became roused by
the lively and acute remarks of my companion. The intelligence of the
children among this race is marvellously precocious, perhaps from the
habit of having intrusted to them, at so early an age, the toils and
responsibilities of middle age. Indeed, in conversing with Taee, I felt
as if talking with some superior and observant man of my own years. I
asked him if he could form any estimate of the number of communities
into which the race of the Vril-ya is subdivided.

\x93Not exactly,\x94 he said, \x93because they multiply, of course, every year as
the surplus of each community is drafted off. But I heard my father say
that, according to the last report, there were a million and a half of
communities speaking our language, and adopting our institutions and
forms of life and government; but, I believe, with some differences,
about which you had better ask Zee. She knows more than most of the Ana
do. An An cares less for things that do not concern him than a Gy does;
the Gy-ei are inquisitive creatures.\x94

\x93Does each community restrict itself to the same number of families or
amount of population that you do?\x94

\x93No; some have much smaller populations, some have larger--varying
according to the extent of the country they appropriate, or to the
degree of excellence to which they have brought their machinery. Each
community sets its own limit according to circumstances, taking care
always that there shall never arise any class of poor by the pressure of
population upon the productive powers of the domain; and that no
state shall be too large for a government resembling that of a
single well-ordered family. I imagine that no vril community exceeds
thirty-thousand households. But, as a general rule, the smaller
the community, provided there be hands enough to do justice to the
capacities of the territory it occupies, the richer each individual is,
and the larger the sum contributed to the general treasury,--above all,
the happier and the more tranquil is the whole political body, and the
more perfect the products of its industry. The state which all tribes of
the Vril-ya acknowledge to be the highest in civilisation, and which
has brought the vril force to its fullest development, is perhaps the
smallest. It limits itself to four thousand families; but every inch of
its territory is cultivated to the utmost perfection of garden ground;
its machinery excels that of every other tribe, and there is no
product of its industry in any department which is not sought for, at
extraordinary prices, by each community of our race. All our tribes make
this state their model, considering that we should reach the highest
state of civilisation allowed to mortals if we could unite the greatest
degree of happiness with the highest degree of intellectual achievement;
and it is clear that the smaller the society the less difficult that
will be. Ours is too large for it.\x94

This reply set me thinking. I reminded myself of that little state of
Athens, with only twenty thousand free citizens, and which to this
day our mightiest nations regard as the supreme guide and model in all
departments of intellect. But then Athens permitted fierce rivalry and
perpetual change, and was certainly not happy. Rousing myself from the
reverie into which these reflections had plunged me, I brought back our
talk to the subjects connected with emigration.

\x93But,\x94 said I, \x93when, I suppose yearly, a certain number among you agree
to quit home and found a new community elsewhere, they must necessarily
be very few, and scarcely sufficient, even with the help of the machines
they take with them, to clear the ground, and build towns, and form a
civilised state with the comforts and luxuries in which they had been
reared.\x94

\x93You mistake. All the tribes of the Vril-ya are in constant
communication with each other, and settle amongst themselves each
year what proportion of one community will unite with the emigrants of
another, so as to form a state of sufficient size; and the place for
emigration is agreed upon at least a year before, and pioneers sent from
each state to level rocks, and embank waters, and construct houses; so
that when the emigrants at last go, they find a city already made, and a
country around it at least partially cleared. Our hardy life as children
make us take cheerfully to travel and adventure. I mean to emigrate
myself when of age.\x94

\x93Do the emigrants always select places hitherto uninhabited and barren?\x94

\x93As yet generally, because it is our rule never to destroy except
when necessary to our well-being. Of course, we cannot settle in lands
already occupied by the Vril-ya; and if we take the cultivated lands
of the other races of Ana, we must utterly destroy the previous
inhabitants. Sometimes, as it is, we take waste spots, and find that
a troublesome, quarrelsome race of Ana, especially if under the
administration of Koom-Posh or Glek-Nas, resents our vicinity, and picks
a quarrel with us; then, of course, as menacing our welfare, we destroy
it: there is no coming to terms of peace with a race so idiotic that
it is always changing the form of government which represents it.
Koom-Posh,\x94 said the child, emphatically, \x93is bad enough, still it has
brains, though at the back of its head, and is not without a heart; but
in Glek-Nas the brain and heart of the creatures disappear, and they
become all jaws, claws, and belly.\x94 \x93You express yourself strongly.
Allow me to inform you that I myself, and I am proud to say it, am the
citizen of a Koom-Posh.\x94

\x93I no longer,\x94 answered Taee, \x93wonder to see you here so far from your
home. What was the condition of your native community before it became a
Koom-Posh?\x94

\x93A settlement of emigrants--like those settlements which your tribe
sends forth--but so far unlike your settlements, that it was dependent
on the state from which it came. It shook off that yoke, and, crowned
with eternal glory, became a Koom-Posh.\x94

\x93Eternal glory! How long has the Koom-Posh lasted?\x94

\x93About 100 years.\x94

\x93The length of an An\x92s life--a very young community. In much less than
another 100 years your Koom-Posh will be a Glek-Nas.\x94

\x93Nay, the oldest states in the world I come from, have such faith in its
duration, that they are all gradually shaping their institutions so
as to melt into ours, and their most thoughtful politicians say that,
whether they like it or not, the inevitable tendency of these old states
is towards Koom-Posh-erie.\x94

\x93The old states?\x94

\x93Yes, the old states.\x94

\x93With populations very small in proportion to the area of productive
land?\x94

\x93On the contrary, with populations very large in proportion to that
area.\x94

\x93I see! old states indeed!--so old as to become drivelling if they don\x92t
pack off that surplus population as we do ours--very old states!--very,
very old! Pray, Tish, do you think it wise for very old men to try to
turn head-over-heels as very young children do? And if you ask them why
they attempted such antics, should you not laugh if they answered that
by imitating very young children they could become very young children
themselves? Ancient history abounds with instances of this sort a great
many thousand years ago--and in every instance a very old state that
played at Koom-Posh soon tumbled into Glek-Nas. Then, in horror of its
own self, it cried out for a master, as an old man in his dotage cries
out for a nurse; and after a succession of masters or nurses, more or
less long, that very old state died out of history. A very old state
attempting Koom-Posh-erie is like a very old man who pulls down the
house to which he has been accustomed, but he has so exhausted his
vigour in pulling down, that all he can do in the way of rebuilding is
to run up a crazy hut, in which himself and his successors whine out,
\x91How the wind blows! How the walls shake!\x92\x94

\x93My dear Taee, I make all excuse for your unenlightened prejudices,
which every schoolboy educated in a Koom-Posh could easily controvert,
though he might not be so precociously learned in ancient history as you
appear to be.\x94

\x93I learned! not a bit of it. But would a schoolboy, educated in your
Koom-Posh, ask his great-great-grandfather or great-great-grandmother
to stand on his or her head with the feet uppermost? And if the poor old
folks hesitated--say, \x91What do you fear?--see how I do it!\x92\x94

\x93Taee, I disdain to argue with a child of your age. I repeat, I make
allowances for your want of that culture which a Koom-Posh alone can
bestow.\x94

\x93I, in my turn,\x94 answered Taee, with an air of the suave but lofty good
breeding which characterises his race, \x93not only make allowances for
you as not educated among the Vril-ya, but I entreat you to vouchsafe me
your pardon for the insufficient respect to the habits and opinions of
so amiable a Tish!\x94

I ought before to have observed that I was commonly called Tish by my
host and his family, as being a polite and indeed a pet name, literally
signifying a small barbarian; the children apply it endearingly to the
tame species of Frog which they keep in their gardens.

We had now reached the banks of a lake, and Taee here paused to point
out to me the ravages made in fields skirting it. \x93The enemy certainly
lies within these waters,\x94 said Taee. \x93Observe what shoals of fish are
crowded together at the margin. Even the great fishes with the small
ones, who are their habitual prey and who generally shun them, all
forget their instincts in the presence of a common destroyer. This
reptile certainly must belong to the class of Krek-a, which are more
devouring than any other, and are said to be among the few surviving
species of the world\x92s dreadest inhabitants before the Ana were created.
The appetite of a Krek is insatiable--it feeds alike upon vegetable and
animal life; but for the swift-footed creatures of the elk species it
is too slow in its movements. Its favourite dainty is an An when it can
catch him unawares; and hence the Ana destroy it relentlessly whenever
it enters their dominion. I have heard that when our forefathers first
cleared this country, these monsters, and others like them, abounded,
and, vril being then undiscovered, many of our race were devoured. It
was impossible to exterminate them wholly till that discovery which
constitutes the power and sustains the civilisation of our race. But
after the uses of vril became familiar to us, all creatures inimical
to us were soon annihilated. Still, once a-year or so, one of these
enormous creatures wanders from the unreclaimed and savage districts
beyond, and within my memory one has seized upon a young Gy who was
bathing in this very lake. Had she been on land and armed with her
staff, it would not have dared even to show itself; for, like all savage
creatures, the reptile has a marvellous instinct, which warns it against
the bearer of the vril wand. How they teach their young to avoid him,
though seen for the first time, is one of those mysteries which you may
ask Zee to explain, for I cannot. The reptile in this instinct does but
resemble our wild birds and animals, which will not come in reach of a
man armed with a gun. When the electric wires were first put up,
partridges struck against them in their flight, and fell down wounded.
No younger generations of partridges meet with a similar accident. So
long as I stand here, the monster will not stir from its lurking-place;
but we must now decoy it forth.\x94

\x93Will that not be difficult?\x94

\x93Not at all. Seat yourself yonder on that crag (about one hundred
yards from the bank), while I retire to a distance. In a short time the
reptile will catch sight or scent of you, and perceiving that you are no
vril-bearer, will come forth to devour you. As soon as it is fairly out
of the water, it becomes my prey.\x94

\x93Do you mean to tell me that I am to be the decoy to that horrible
monster which could engulf me within its jaws in a second! I beg to
decline.\x94

The child laughed. \x93Fear nothing,\x94 said he; \x93only sit still.\x94

Instead of obeying the command, I made a bound, and was about to take
fairly to my heels, when Taee touched me slightly on the shoulder, and,
fixing his eyes steadily on mine, I was rooted to the spot. All power of
volition left me. Submissive to the infant\x92s gesture, I followed him
to the crag he had indicated, and seated myself there in silence. Most
readers have seen something of the effects of electro-biology, whether
genuine or spurious. No professor of that doubtful craft had ever been
able to influence a thought or a movement of mine, but I was a mere
machine at the will of this terrible child. Meanwhile he expanded his
wings, soared aloft, and alighted amidst a copse at the brow of a hill
at some distance.

I was alone; and turning my eyes with an indescribable sensation of
horror towards the lake, I kept them fixed on its water, spell-bound. It
might be ten or fifteen minutes, to me it seemed ages, before the still
surface, gleaming under the lamplight, began to be agitated towards
the centre. At the same time the shoals of fish near the margin evinced
their sense of the enemy\x92s approach by splash and leap and bubbling
circle. I could detect their hurried flight hither and thither, some
even casting themselves ashore. A long, dark, undulous furrow came
moving along the waters, nearer and nearer, till the vast head of the
reptile emerged--its jaws bristling with fangs, and its dull eyes fixing
themselves hungrily on the spot where I sat motionless. And now its fore
feet were on the strand--now its enormous breast, scaled on either
side as in armour, in the centre showing its corrugated skin of a dull
venomous yellow; and now its whole length was on the land, a hundred
feet or more from the jaw to the tail. Another stride of those ghastly
feet would have brought it to the spot where I sat. There was but a
moment between me and this grim form of death, when what seemed a flash
of lightning shot through the air, smote, and, for a space of time
briefer than that in which a man can draw his breath, enveloped
the monster; and then, as the flash vanished, there lay before me a
blackened, charred, smouldering mass, a something gigantic, but of which
even the outlines of form were burned away, and rapidly crumbling into
dust and ashes. I remained still seated, still speechless, ice-cold with
a new sensation of dread; what had been horror was now awe.

I felt the child\x92s hand on my head--fear left me--the spell was
broken--I rose up. \x93You see with what ease the Vril-ya destroy their
enemies,\x94 said Taee; and then, moving towards the bank, he contemplated
the smouldering relics of the monster, and said quietly, \x93I have
destroyed larger creatures, but none with so much pleasure. Yes, it IS
a Krek; what suffering it must have inflicted while it lived!\x94 Then he
took up the poor fishes that had flung themselves ashore, and restored
them mercifully to their native element.



Chapter XIX.


As we walked back to the town, Taee took a new and circuitous way,
in order to show me what, to use a familiar term, I will call the
\x91Station,\x92 from which emigrants or travellers to other communities
commence their journeys. I had, on a former occasion, expressed a wish
to see their vehicles. These I found to be of two kinds, one for land
journeys, one for aerial voyages: the former were of all sizes and
forms, some not larger than an ordinary carriage, some movable houses of
one story and containing several rooms, furnished according to the ideas
of comfort or luxury which are entertained by the Vril-ya. The aerial
vehicles were of light substances, not the least resembling our
balloons, but rather our boats and pleasure-vessels, with helm and
rudder, with large wings or paddles, and a central machine worked by
vril. All the vehicles both for land or air were indeed worked by that
potent and mysterious agency.

I saw a convoy set out on its journey, but it had few passengers,
containing chiefly articles of merchandise, and was bound to a
neighbouring community; for among all the tribes of the Vril-ya there
is considerable commercial interchange. I may here observe, that their
money currency does not consist of the precious metals, which are too
common among them for that purpose. The smaller coins in ordinary use
are manufactured from a peculiar fossil shell, the comparatively scarce
remnant of some very early deluge, or other convulsion of nature, by
which a species has become extinct. It is minute, and flat as an oyster,
and takes a jewel-like polish. This coinage circulates among all the
tribes of the Vril-ya. Their larger transactions are carried on much
like ours, by bills of exchange, and thin metallic plates which answer
the purpose of our bank-notes.

Let me take this occasion of adding that the taxation among the tribe I
became acquainted with was very considerable, compared with the amount
of population. But I never heard that any one grumbled at it, for it was
devoted to purposes of universal utility, and indeed necessary to the
civilisation of the tribe. The cost of lighting so large a range
of country, of providing for emigration, of maintaining the public
buildings at which the various operations of national intellect were
carried on, from the first education of an infant to the departments in
which the College of Sages were perpetually trying new experiments in
mechanical science; all these involved the necessity for considerable
state funds. To these I must add an item that struck me as very
singular. I have said that all the human labour required by the state is
carried on by children up to the marriageable age. For this labour the
state pays, and at a rate immeasurably higher than our own remuneration
to labour even in the United States. According to their theory, every
child, male or female, on attaining the marriageable age, and there
terminating the period of labour, should have acquired enough for an
independent competence during life. As, no matter what the disparity of
fortune in the parents, all the children must equally serve, so all
are equally paid according to their several ages or the nature of their
work. Where the parents or friends choose to retain a child in their
own service, they must pay into the public fund in the same ratio as the
state pays to the children it employs; and this sum is handed over to
the child when the period of service expires. This practice serves, no
doubt, to render the notion of social equality familiar and agreeable;
and if it may be said that all the children form a democracy, no less
truly it may be said that all the adults form an aristocracy. The
exquisite politeness and refinement of manners among the Vril-ya, the
generosity of their sentiments, the absolute leisure they enjoy for
following out their own private pursuits, the amenities of their
domestic intercourse, in which they seem as members of one noble order
that can have no distrust of each other\x92s word or deed, all combine to
make the Vril-ya the most perfect nobility which a political disciple
of Plato or Sidney could conceive for the ideal of an aristocratic
republic.



Chapter XX.


From the date of the expedition with Taee which I have just narrated,
the child paid me frequent visits. He had taken a liking to me, which I
cordially returned. Indeed, as he was not yet twelve years old, and
had not commenced the course of scientific studies with which childhood
closes in that country, my intellect was less inferior to his than to
that of the elder members of his race, especially of the Gy-ei, and most
especially of the accomplished Zee. The children of the Vril-ya,
having upon their minds the weight of so many active duties and grave
responsibilities, are not generally mirthful; but Taee, with all
his wisdom, had much of the playful good-humour one often finds the
characteristic of elderly men of genius. He felt that sort of pleasure
in my society which a boy of a similar age in the upper world has in the
company of a pet dog or monkey. It amused him to try and teach me the
ways of his people, as it amuses a nephew of mine to make his poodle
walk on his hind legs or jump through a hoop. I willingly lent myself to
such experiments, but I never achieved the success of the poodle. I was
very much interested at first in the attempt to ply the wings which the
youngest of the Vril-ya use as nimbly and easily as ours do their legs
and arms; but my efforts were attended with contusions serious enough to
make me abandon them in despair.

These wings, as I before said, are very large, reaching to the knee,
and in repose thrown back so as to form a very graceful mantle. They are
composed from the feathers of a gigantic bird that abounds in the rocky
heights of the country--the colour mostly white, but sometimes with
reddish streaks. They are fastened round the shoulders with light but
strong springs of steel; and, when expanded, the arms slide through
loops for that purpose, forming, as it were, a stout central membrane.
As the arms are raised, a tubular lining beneath the vest or tunic
becomes, by mechanical contrivance inflated with air, increased or
diminished at will by the movement of the arms, and serving to buoy the
whole form as on bladders. The wings and the balloon-like apparatus are
highly charged with vril; and when the body is thus wafted upward, it
seems to become singularly lightened of its weight. I found it easy
enough to soar from the ground; indeed, when the wings were spread it
was scarcely possible not to soar, but then came the difficulty and the
danger. I utterly failed in the power to use and direct the pinions,
though I am considered among my own race unusually alert and ready in
bodily exercises, and am a very practiced swimmer. I could only make the
most confused and blundering efforts at flight. I was the servant of the
wings; the wings were not my servants--they were beyond my control;
and when by a violent strain of muscle, and, I must fairly own, in that
abnormal strength which is given by excessive fright, I curbed their
gyrations and brought them near to the body, it seemed as if I lost the
sustaining power stored in them and the connecting bladders, as when the
air is let out of a balloon, and found myself precipitated again to the
earth; saved, indeed, by some spasmodic flutterings, from being dashed
to pieces, but not saved from the bruises and the stun of a heavy fall.
I would, however, have persevered in my attempts, but for the advice or
the commands of the scientific Zee, who had benevolently accompanied my
flutterings, and, indeed, on the last occasion, flying just under me,
received my form as it fell on her own expanded wings, and preserved
me from breaking my head on the roof of the pyramid from which we had
ascended.

\x93I see,\x94 she said, \x93that your trials are in vain, not from the fault
of the wings and their appurtenances, nor from any imperfectness and
malformation of your own corpuscular system, but from irremediable,
because organic, defect in your power of volition. Learn that the
connection between the will and the agencies of that fluid which has
been subjected to the control of the Vril-ya was never established by
the first discoverers, never achieved by a single generation; it has
gone on increasing, like other properties of race, in proportion as it
has been uniformly transmitted from parent to child, so that, at last,
it has become an instinct; and an infant An of our race wills to fly
as intuitively and unconsciously as he wills to walk. He thus plies his
invented or artificial wings with as much safety as a bird plies those
with which it is born. I did not think sufficiently of this when I
allowed you to try an experiment which allured me, for I have longed to
have in you a companion. I shall abandon the experiment now. Your life
is becoming dear to me.\x94 Herewith the Gy\x92s voice and face softened, and
I felt more seriously alarmed than I had been in my previous flights.

Now that I am on the subject of wings, I ought not to omit mention of a
custom among the Gy-ei which seems to me very pretty and tender in the
sentiment it implies. A Gy wears wings habitually when yet a virgin--she
joins the Ana in their aerial sports--she adventures alone and afar into
the wilder regions of the sunless world: in the boldness and height of
her soarings, not less than in the grace of her movements, she excels
the opposite sex. But, from the day of her marriage she wears wings
no more, she suspends them with her own willing hand over the nuptial
couch, never to be resumed unless the marriage tie be severed by divorce
or death.

Now when Zee\x92s voice and eyes thus softened--and at that softening I
prophetically recoiled and shuddered--Taee, who had accompanied us in
our flights, but who, child-like, had been much more amused with my
awkwardness, than sympathising in my fears or aware of my danger,
hovered over us, poised amidst spread wings, and hearing the endearing
words of the young Gy, laughed aloud. Said he, \x93If the Tish cannot
learn the use of wings, you may still be his companion, Zee, for you can
suspend your own.\x94



Chapter XXI.


I had for some time observed in my host\x92s highly informed and powerfully
proportioned daughter that kindly and protective sentiment which,
whether above the earth or below it, an all-wise Providence has bestowed
upon the feminine division of the human race. But until very lately I
had ascribed it to that affection for \x91pets\x92 which a human female at
every age shares with a human child. I now became painfully aware that
the feeling with which Zee deigned to regard me was different from that
which I had inspired in Taee. But this conviction gave me none of that
complacent gratification which the vanity of man ordinarily conceives
from a flattering appreciation of his personal merits on the part of
the fair sex; on the contrary, it inspired me with fear. Yet of all
the Gy-ei in the community, if Zee were perhaps the wisest and the
strongest, she was, by common repute, the gentlest, and she was
certainly the most popularly beloved. The desire to aid, to succour, to
protect, to comfort, to bless, seemed to pervade her whole being. Though
the complicated miseries that originate in penury and guilt are unknown
to the social system of the Vril-ya, still, no sage had yet discovered
in vril an agency which could banish sorrow from life; and wherever
amongst her people sorrow found its way, there Zee followed in the
mission of comforter. Did some sister Gy fail to secure the love she
sighed for? Zee sought her out, and brought all the resources of her
lore, and all the consolations of her sympathy, to bear upon a grief
that so needs the solace of a confidant. In the rare cases, when grave
illness seized upon childhood or youth, and the cases, less rare,
when, in the hardy and adventurous probation of infants, some accident,
attended with pain and injury occurred, Zee forsook her studies and
her sports, and became the healer and nurse. Her favourite flights
were towards the extreme boundaries of the domain where children were
stationed on guard against outbreaks of warring forces in nature, or the
invasions of devouring animals, so that she might warn them of any peril
which her knowledge detected or foresaw, or be at hand if any harm had
befallen. Nay, even in the exercise of her scientific acquirements there
was a concurrent benevolence of purpose and will. Did she learn any
novelty in invention that would be useful to the practitioner of some
special art or craft? she hastened to communicate and explain it. Was
some veteran sage of the College perplexed and wearied with the toil of
an abstruse study? she would patiently devote herself to his aid, work
out details for him, sustain his spirits with her hopeful smile, quicken
his wit with her luminous suggestion, be to him, as it were, his own
good genius made visible as the strengthener and inspirer. The same
tenderness she exhibited to the inferior creatures. I have often known
her bring home some sick and wounded animal, and tend and cherish it as
a mother would tend and cherish her stricken child. Many a time when I
sat in the balcony, or hanging garden, on which my window opened, I have
watched her rising in the air on her radiant wings, and in a few moments
groups of infants below, catching sight of her, would soar upward with
joyous sounds of greeting; clustering and sporting around her, so that
she seemed a very centre of innocent delight. When I have walked with
her amidst the rocks and valleys without the city, the elk-deer would
scent or see her from afar, come bounding up, eager for the caress
of her hand, or follow her footsteps, till dismissed by some musical
whisper that the creature had learned to comprehend. It is the fashion
among the virgin Gy-ei to wear on their foreheads a circlet, or coronet,
with gems resembling opals, arranged in four points or rays like stars.
These are lustreless in ordinary use, but if touched by the vril wand
they take a clear lambent flame, which illuminates, yet not burns. This
serves as an ornament in their festivities, and as a lamp, if, in their
wanderings beyond their artificial lights, they have to traverse the
dark. There are times, when I have seen Zee\x92s thoughtful majesty of face
lighted up by this crowning halo, that I could scarcely believe her to
be a creature of mortal birth, and bent my head before her as the vision
of a being among the celestial orders. But never once did my heart feel
for this lofty type of the noblest womanhood a sentiment of human love.
Is it that, among the race I belong to, man\x92s pride so far influences
his passions that woman loses to him her special charm of woman if he
feels her to be in all things eminently superior to himself? But by what
strange infatuation could this peerless daughter of a race which, in the
supremacy of its powers and the felicity of its conditions, ranked all
other races in the category of barbarians, have deigned to honour me
with her preference? In personal qualifications, though I passed for
good-looking amongst the people I came from, the handsomest of my
countrymen might have seemed insignificant and homely beside the grand
and serene type of beauty which characterised the aspect of the Vril-ya.

That novelty, the very difference between myself and those to whom Zee
was accustomed, might serve to bias her fancy was probable enough, and
as the reader will see later, such a cause might suffice to account for
the predilection with which I was distinguished by a young Gy scarcely
out of her childhood, and very inferior in all respects to Zee. But
whoever will consider those tender characteristics which I have just
ascribed to the daughter of Aph-Lin, may readily conceive that the main
cause of my attraction to her was in her instinctive desire to cherish,
to comfort, to protect, and, in protecting, to sustain and to exalt.
Thus, when I look back, I account for the only weakness unworthy of
her lofty nature, which bowed the daughter of the Vril-ya to a woman\x92s
affection for one so inferior to herself as was her father\x92s guest. But
be the cause what it may, the consciousness that I had inspired such
affection thrilled me with awe--a moral awe of her very imperfections,
of her mysterious powers, of the inseparable distinctions between her
race and my own; and with that awe, I must confess to my shame, there
combined the more material and ignoble dread of the perils to which her
preference would expose me.

Under these anxious circumstances, fortunately, my conscience and sense
of honour were free from reproach. It became clearly my duty, if Zee\x92s
preference continued manifest, to intimate it to my host, with, of
course, all the delicacy which is ever to be preserved by a well-bred
man in confiding to another any degree of favour by which one of the
fair sex may condescend to distinguish him. Thus, at all events,
I should be freed from responsibility or suspicion of voluntary
participation in the sentiments of Zee; and the superior wisdom of
my host might probably suggest some sage extrication from my perilous
dilemma. In this resolve I obeyed the ordinary instinct of civilised and
moral man, who, erring though he be, still generally prefers the right
course in those cases where it is obviously against his inclinations,
his interests, and his safety to elect the wrong one.



Chapter XXII.


As the reader has seen, Aph-Lin had not favoured my general and
unrestricted intercourse with his countrywomen. Though relying on my
promise to abstain from giving any information as to the world I had
left, and still more on the promise of those to whom had been put the
same request, not to question me, which Zee had exacted from Taee, yet
he did not feel sure that, if I were allowed to mix with the strangers
whose curiosity the sight of me had aroused, I could sufficiently guard
myself against their inquiries. When I went out, therefore, it was never
alone; I was always accompanied either by one of my host\x92s family, or
my child-friend Taee. Bra, Aph-Lin\x92s wife, seldom stirred beyond the
gardens which surrounded the house, and was fond of reading the ancient
literature, which contained something of romance and adventure not to be
found in the writings of recent ages, and presented pictures of a
life unfamiliar to her experience and interesting to her imagination;
pictures, indeed, of a life more resembling that which we lead every day
above ground, coloured by our sorrows, sins, passions, and much to her
what the tales of the Genii or the Arabian Nights are to us. But her
love of reading did not prevent Bra from the discharge of her duties as
mistress of the largest household in the city. She went daily the
round of the chambers, and saw that the automata and other mechanical
contrivances were in order, that the numerous children employed by
Aph-Lin, whether in his private or public capacity, were carefully
tended. Bra also inspected the accounts of the whole estate, and it was
her great delight to assist her husband in the business connected with
his office as chief administrator of the Lighting Department, so that
her avocations necessarily kept her much within doors. The two sons were
both completing their education at the College of Sages; and the
elder, who had a strong passion for mechanics, and especially for works
connected with the machinery of timepieces and automata, had decided on
devoting himself to these pursuits, and was now occupied in constructing
a shop or warehouse, at which his inventions could be exhibited and
sold. The younger son preferred farming and rural occupations; and when
not attending the College, at which he chiefly studied the theories
of agriculture, was much absorbed by his practical application of that
science to his father\x92s lands. It will be seen by this how completely
equality of ranks is established among this people--a shopkeeper being
of exactly the same grade in estimation as the large landed proprietor.
Aph-Lin was the wealthiest member of the community, and his eldest son
preferred keeping a shop to any other avocation; nor was this choice
thought to show any want of elevated notions on his part.

This young man had been much interested in examining my watch, the works
of which were new to him, and was greatly pleased when I made him a
present of it. Shortly after, he returned the gift with interest, by a
watch of his own construction, marking both the time as in my watch and
the time as kept among the Vril-ya. I have that watch still, and it has
been much admired by many among the most eminent watchmakers of London
and Paris. It is of gold, with diamond hands and figures, and it plays a
favorite tune among the Vril-ya in striking the hours: it only requires
to be wound up once in ten months, and has never gone wrong since I had
it. These young brothers being thus occupied, my usual companions in
that family, when I went abroad, were my host or his daughter. Now,
agreeably with the honourable conclusions I had come to, I began to
excuse myself from Zee\x92s invitations to go out alone with her, and
seized an occasion when that learned Gy was delivering a lecture at the
College of Sages to ask Aph-Lin to show me his country-seat. As this was
at some little distance, and as Aph-Lin was not fond of walking, while I
had discreetly relinquished all attempts at flying, we proceeded to our
destination in one of the aerial boats belonging to my host. A child of
eight years old, in his employ, was our conductor. My host and myself
reclined on cushions, and I found the movement very easy and luxurious.
\x93Aph-Lin,\x94 said I, \x93you will not, I trust, be displeased with me, if I
ask your permission to travel for a short time, and visit other tribes
or communities of your illustrious race. I have also a strong desire to
see those nations which do not adopt your institutions, and which you
consider as savages. It would interest me greatly to notice what are the
distinctions between them and the races whom we consider civilised in
the world I have left.\x94

\x93It is utterly impossible that you should go hence alone,\x94 said Aph-Lin.
\x93Even among the Vril-ya you would be exposed to great dangers. Certain
peculiarities of formation and colour, and the extraordinary phenomenon
of hirsute bushes upon your cheeks and chin, denoting in you a species
of An distinct alike from our own race and any known race of barbarians
yet extant, would attract, of course, the special attention of the
College of Sages in whatever community of Vril-ya you visited, and it
would depend upon the individual temper of some individual sage whether
you would be received, as you have been here, hospitably, or whether you
would not be at once dissected for scientific purposes. Know that when
the Tur first took you to his house, and while you were there put to
sleep by Taee in order to recover from your previous pain or fatigue,
the sages summoned by the Tur were divided in opinion whether you were
a harmless or an obnoxious animal. During your unconscious state your
teeth were examined, and they clearly showed that you were not only
graminivorous but carnivorous. Carnivorous animals of your size are
always destroyed, as being of savage and dangerous nature. Our teeth, as
you have doubtless observed,* are not those of the creatures who devour
flesh.\x94

* I never had observed it; and, if I had, am not physiologist enough to
have distinguished the difference.

\x93It is, indeed, maintained by Zee and other philosophers, that as, in
remote ages, the Ana did prey upon living beings of the brute species,
their teeth must have been fitted for that purpose. But, even if so,
they have been modified by hereditary transmission, and suited to the
food on which we now exist; nor are even the barbarians, who adopt the
turbulent and ferocious institutions of Glek-Nas, devourers of flesh
like beasts of prey.

\x93In the course of this dispute it was proposed to dissect you; but
Taee begged you off, and the Tur being, by office, averse to all novel
experiments at variance with our custom of sparing life, except where it
is clearly proved to be for the good of the community to take it, sent
to me, whose business it is, as the richest man of the state, to afford
hospitality to strangers from a distance. It was at my option to decide
whether or not you were a stranger whom I could safely admit. Had I
declined to receive you, you would have been handed over to the College
of Sages, and what might there have befallen you I do not like to
conjecture. Apart from this danger, you might chance to encounter some
child of four years old, just put in possession of his vril staff; and
who, in alarm at your strange appearance, and in the impulse of the
moment, might reduce you to a cinder. Taee himself was about to do so
when he first saw you, had his father not checked his hand. Therefore I
say you cannot travel alone, but with Zee you would be safe; and I have
no doubt that she would accompany you on a tour round the neighbouring
communities of Vril-ya (to the savage states, No!): I will ask her.\x94

Now, as my main object in proposing to travel was to escape from Zee, I
hastily exclaimed, \x93Nay, pray do not! I relinquish my design. You have
said enough as to its dangers to deter me from it; and I can scarcely
think it right that a young Gy of the personal attractions of your
lovely daughter should travel into other regions without a better
protector than a Tish of my insignificant strength and stature.\x94

Aph-Lin emitted the soft sibilant sound which is the nearest approach
to laughter that a full-grown An permits to himself, ere he replied:
\x93Pardon my discourteous but momentary indulgence of mirth at any
observation seriously made by my guest. I could not but be amused at the
idea of Zee, who is so fond of protecting others that children call her
\x91THE GUARDIAN,\x92 needing a protector herself against any dangers arising
from the audacious admiration of males. Know that our Gy-ei, while
unmarried, are accustomed to travel alone among other tribes, to see if
they find there some An who may please them more than the Ana they find
at home. Zee has already made three such journeys, but hitherto her
heart has been untouched.\x94

Here the opportunity which I sought was afforded to me, and I said,
looking down, and with faltering voice, \x93Will you, my kind host, promise
to pardon me, if what I am about to say gives offence?\x94

\x93Say only the truth, and I cannot be offended; or, could I be so, it
would not be for me, but for you to pardon.\x94

\x93Well, then, assist me to quit you, and, much as I should have like
to witness more of the wonders, and enjoy more of the felicity, which
belong to your people, let me return to my own.\x94

\x93I fear there are reasons why I cannot do that; at all events, not
without permission of the Tur, and he, probably, would not grant it. You
are not destitute of intelligence; you may (though I do not think
so) have concealed the degree of destructive powers possessed by your
people; you might, in short, bring upon us some danger; and if the Tur
entertains that idea, it would clearly be his duty, either to put an end
to you, or enclose you in a cage for the rest of your existence. But why
should you wish to leave a state of society which you so politely allow
to be more felicitous than your own?\x94

\x93Oh, Aph-Lin! My answer is plain. Lest in naught, and unwittingly, I
should betray your hospitality; lest, in the caprice of will which in
our world is proverbial among the other sex, and from which even a Gy
is not free, your adorable daughter should deign to regard me, though a
Tish, as if I were a civilised An, and--and--and---\x94 \x93Court you as
her spouse,\x94 put in Aph-Lin, gravely, and without any visible sign of
surprise or displeasure.

\x93You have said it.\x94

\x93That would be a misfortune,\x94 resumed my host, after a pause, \x93and I
feel you have acted as you ought in warning me. It is, as you imply,
not uncommon for an unwedded Gy to conceive tastes as to the object she
covets which appear whimsical to others; but there is no power to compel
a young Gy to any course opposed to that which she chooses to pursue.
All we can to is to reason with her, and experience tells us that the
whole College of Sages would find it vain to reason with a Gy in a
matter that concerns her choice in love. I grieve for you, because such
a marriage would be against the A-glauran, or good of the community, for
the children of such a marriage would adulterate the race: they might
even come into the world with the teeth of carnivorous animals; this
could not be allowed: Zee, as a Gy, cannot be controlled; but you, as a
Tish, can be destroyed. I advise you, then, to resist her addresses;
to tell her plainly that you can never return her love. This happens
constantly. Many an An, however, ardently wooed by one Gy, rejects her,
and puts an end to her persecution by wedding another. The same course
is open to you.\x94

\x93No; for I cannot wed another Gy without equally injuring the community,
and exposing it to the chance of rearing carnivorous children.\x94

\x93That is true. All I can say, and I say it with the tenderness due to a
Tish, and the respect due to a guest, is frankly this--if you yield, you
will become a cinder. I must leave it to you to take the best way you
can to defend yourself. Perhaps you had better tell Zee that she is
ugly. That assurance on the lips of him she woos generally suffices to
chill the most ardent Gy. Here we are at my country-house.\x94



Chapter XXIII.


I confess that my conversation with Aph-Lin, and the extreme coolness
with which he stated his inability to control the dangerous caprice of
his daughter, and treated the idea of the reduction into a cinder to
which her amorous flame might expose my too seductive person, took away
the pleasure I should otherwise have had in the contemplation of my
host\x92s country-seat, and the astonishing perfection of the machinery
by which his farming operations were conducted. The house differed in
appearance from the massive and sombre building which Aph-Lin inhabited
in the city, and which seemed akin to the rocks out of which the city
itself had been hewn into shape. The walls of the country-seat
were composed by trees placed a few feet apart from each other, the
interstices being filled in with the transparent metallic substance
which serves the purpose of glass among the Ana. These trees were all in
flower, and the effect was very pleasing, if not in the best taste. We
were received at the porch by life-like automata, who conducted us
into a chamber, the like to which I never saw before, but have often on
summer days dreamily imagined. It was a bower--half room, half garden.
The walls were one mass of climbing flowers. The open spaces, which
we call windows, and in which, here, the metallic surfaces were slided
back, commanded various views; some, of the wide landscape with its
lakes and rocks; some, of small limited expanses answering to our
conservatories, filled with tiers of flowers. Along the sides of the
room were flower-beds, interspersed with cushions for repose. In the
centre of the floor was a cistern and a fountain of that liquid light
which I have presumed to be naphtha. It was luminous and of a roseate
hue; it sufficed without lamps to light up the room with a subdued
radiance. All around the fountain was carpeted with a soft deep lichen,
not green (I have never seen that colour in the vegetation of this
country), but a quiet brown, on which the eye reposes with the same
sense of relief as that with which in the upper world it reposes
on green. In the outlets upon flowers (which I have compared to our
conservatories) there were singing birds innumerable, which, while we
remained in the room, sang in those harmonies of tune to which they are,
in these parts, so wonderfully trained. The roof was open. The whole
scene had charms for every sense--music form the birds, fragrance from
the flowers, and varied beauty to the eye at every aspect. About all was
a voluptuous repose. What a place, methought, for a honeymoon, if a Gy
bride were a little less formidably armed not only with the rights
of woman, but with the powers of man! But when one thinks of a Gy, so
learned, so tall, so stately, so much above the standard of the creature
we call woman as was Zee, no! even if I had felt no fear of being
reduced to a cinder, it is not of her I should have dreamed in that
bower so constructed for dreams of poetic love.

The automata reappeared, serving one of those delicious liquids which
form the innocent wines of the Vril-ya.

\x93Truly,\x94 said I, \x93this is a charming residence, and I can scarcely
conceive why you do not settle yourself here instead of amid the
gloomier abodes of the city.\x94

\x93As responsible to the community for the administration of light, I am
compelled to reside chiefly in the city, and can only come hither for
short intervals.\x94

\x93But since I understand from you that no honours are attached to your
office, and it involves some trouble, why do you accept it?\x94

\x93Each of us obeys without question the command of the Tur. He said, \x91Be
it requested that Aph-Lin shall be the Commissioner of Light,\x92 so I had
no choice; but having held the office now for a long time, the cares,
which were at first unwelcome, have become, if not pleasing, at least
endurable. We are all formed by custom--even the difference of our race
from the savage is but the transmitted continuance of custom, which
becomes, through hereditary descent, part and parcel of our nature. You
see there are Ana who even reconcile themselves to the responsibilities
of chief magistrate, but no one would do so if his duties had not been
rendered so light, or if there were any questions as to compliance with
his requests.\x94

\x93Not even if you thought the requests unwise or unjust?\x94

\x93We do not allow ourselves to think so, and, indeed, everything goes on
as if each and all governed themselves according to immemorial custom.\x94

\x93When the chief magistrate dies or retires, how do you provide for his
successor?\x94

\x93The An who has discharged the duties of chief magistrate for many years
is the best person to choose one by whom those duties may be understood,
and he generally names his successor.\x94

\x93His son, perhaps?\x94

\x93Seldom that; for it is not an office any one desires or seeks, and a
father naturally hesitates to constrain his son. But if the Tur himself
decline to make a choice, for fear it might be supposed that he owed
some grudge to the person on whom his choice would settle, then there
are three of the College of Sages who draw lots among themselves which
shall have the power to elect the chief. We consider that the judgment
of one An of ordinary capacity is better than the judgment of three or
more, however wise they may be; for among three there would probably
be disputes, and where there are disputes, passion clouds judgment. The
worst choice made by one who has no motive in choosing wrong, is better
than the best choice made by many who have many motives for not choosing
right.\x94

\x93You reverse in your policy the maxims adopted in my country.\x94

\x93Are you all, in your country, satisfied with your governors?\x94

\x93All! Certainly not; the governors that most please some are sure to be
those most displeasing to others.\x94

\x93Then our system is better than yours.\x94 \x93For you it may be; but
according to our system a Tish could not be reduced to a cinder if a
female compelled him to marry her; and as a Tish I sigh to return to my
native world.\x94

\x93Take courage, my dear little guest; Zee can\x92t compel you to marry her.
She can only entice you to do so. Don\x92t be enticed. Come and look round
my domain.\x94

We went forth into a close, bordered with sheds; for though the Ana keep
no stock for food, there are some animals which they rear for milking
and others for shearing. The former have no resemblance to our cows,
nor the latter to our sheep, nor do I believe such species exist amongst
them. They use the milk of three varieties of animal: one resembles the
antelope, but is much larger, being as tall as a camel; the other two
are smaller, and, though differing somewhat from each other, resemble
no creature I ever saw on earth. They are very sleek and of rounded
proportions; their colour that of the dappled deer, with very mild
countenances and beautiful dark eyes. The milk of these three creatures
differs in richness and taste. It is usually diluted with water, and
flavoured with the juice of a peculiar and perfumed fruit, and in itself
is very nutritious and palatable. The animal whose fleece serves them
for clothing and many other purposes, is more like the Italian she-goat
than any other creature, but is considerably larger, has no horns,
and is free from the displeasing odour of our goats. Its fleece is not
thick, but very long and fine; it varies in colour, but is never white,
more generally of a slate-like or lavender hue. For clothing it is
usually worn dyed to suit the taste of the wearer. These animals were
exceedingly tame, and were treated with extraordinary care and affection
by the children (chiefly female) who tended them.

We then went through vast storehouses filled with grains and fruits.
I may here observe that the main staple of food among these people
consists--firstly, of a kind of corn much larger in ear than our wheat,
and which by culture is perpetually being brought into new varieties of
flavour; and, secondly, of a fruit of about the size of a small orange,
which, when gathered, is hard and bitter. It is stowed away for many
months in their warehouses, and then becomes succulent and tender. Its
juice, which is of dark-red colour, enters into most of their sauces.
They have many kinds of fruit of the nature of the olive, from which
delicious oils are extracted. They have a plant somewhat resembling the
sugar-cane, but its juices are less sweet and of a delicate perfume.
They have no bees nor honey-making insects, but they make much use of a
sweet gum that oozes from a coniferous plant, not unlike the araucaria.
Their soil teems also with esculent roots and vegetables, which it is
the aim of their culture to improve and vary to the utmost. And I never
remember any meal among this people, however it might be confined to
the family household, in which some delicate novelty in such articles of
food was not introduced. In fine, as I before observed, their cookery is
exquisite, so diversified and nutritious that one does not miss animal
food; and their own physical forms suffice to show that with them, at
least, meat is not required for superior production of muscular fibre.
They have no grapes--the drinks extracted from their fruits are innocent
and refreshing. Their staple beverage, however, is water, in the choice
of which they are very fastidious, distinguishing at once the slightest
impurity.

\x93My younger son takes great pleasure in augmenting our produce,\x94 said
Aph-Lin as we passed through the storehouses, \x93and therefore will
inherit these lands, which constitute the chief part of my wealth. To my
elder son such inheritance would be a great trouble and affliction.\x94

\x93Are there many sons among you who think the inheritance of vast wealth
would be a great trouble and affliction?\x94

\x93Certainly; there are indeed very few of the Vril-ya who do not consider
that a fortune much above the average is a heavy burden. We are rather a
lazy people after the age of childhood, and do not like undergoing more
cares than we can help, and great wealth does give its owner many cares.
For instance, it marks us out for public offices, which none of us
like and none of us can refuse. It necessitates our taking a continued
interest in the affairs of any of our poorer countrymen, so that we may
anticipate their wants and see that none fall into poverty. There is
an old proverb amongst us which says, \x91The poor man\x92s need is the rich
man\x92s shame---\x92\x94

\x93Pardon me, if I interrupt you for a moment. You allow that some, even
of the Vril-ya, know want, and need relief.\x94

\x93If by want you mean the destitution that prevails in a Koom-Posh, THAT
is impossible with us, unless an An has, by some extraordinary process,
got rid of all his means, cannot or will not emigrate, and has either
tired out the affectionate aid of this relations or personal friends, or
refuses to accept it.\x94

\x93Well, then, does he not supply the place of an infant or automaton, and
become a labourer--a servant?\x94

\x93No; then we regard him as an unfortunate person of unsound reason,
and place him, at the expense of the State, in a public building, where
every comfort and every luxury that can mitigate his affliction are
lavished upon him. But an An does not like to be considered out of his
mind, and therefore such cases occur so seldom that the public building
I speak of is now a deserted ruin, and the last inmate of it was an An
whom I recollect to have seen in my childhood. He did not seem conscious
of loss of reason, and wrote glaubs (poetry). When I spoke of wants, I
meant such wants as an An with desires larger than his means sometimes
entertains--for expensive singing-birds, or bigger houses, or
country-gardens; and the obvious way to satisfy such wants is to buy of
him something that he sells. Hence Ana like myself, who are very rich,
are obliged to buy a great many things they do not require, and live on
a very large scale where they might prefer to live on a small one. For
instance, the great size of my house in the town is a source of much
trouble to my wife, and even to myself; but I am compelled to have it
thus incommodiously large, because, as the richest An of the community,
I am appointed to entertain the strangers from the other communities
when they visit us, which they do in great crowds twice-a-year, when
certain periodical entertainments are held, and when relations scattered
throughout all the realms of the Vril-ya joyfully reunite for a time.
This hospitality, on a scale so extensive, is not to my taste, and
therefore I should have been happier had I been less rich. But we must
all bear the lot assigned to us in this short passage through time that
we call life. After all, what are a hundred years, more or less, to the
ages through which we must pass hereafter? Luckily, I have one son who
likes great wealth. It is a rare exception to the general rule, and I
own I cannot myself understand it.\x94

After this conversation I sought to return to the subject which
continued to weigh on my heart--viz., the chances of escape from Zee.
But my host politely declined to renew that topic, and summoned our
air-boat. On our way back we were met by Zee, who, having found us gone,
on her return from the College of Sages, had unfurled her wings and
flown in search of us.

Her grand, but to me unalluring, countenance brightened as she beheld
me, and, poising herself beside the boat on her large outspread plumes,
she said reproachfully to Aph-Lin--\x93Oh, father, was it right in you
to hazard the life of your guest in a vehicle to which he is so
unaccustomed? He might, by an incautious movement, fall over the side;
and alas; he is not like us, he has no wings. It were death to him to
fall. Dear one!\x94 (she added, accosting my shrinking self in a softer
voice), \x93have you no thought of me, that you should thus hazard a life
which has become almost a part of mine? Never again be thus rash, unless
I am thy companion. What terror thou hast stricken into me!\x94

I glanced furtively at Aph-Lin, expecting, at least, that he would
indignantly reprove his daughter for expressions of anxiety and
affection, which, under all the circumstances, would, in the world above
ground, be considered immodest in the lips of a young female, addressed
to a male not affianced to her, even if of the same rank as herself.

But so confirmed are the rights of females in that region, and so
absolutely foremost among those rights do females claim the privilege
of courtship, that Aph-Lin would no more have thought of reproving his
virgin daughter than he would have thought of disobeying the orders of
the Tur. In that country, custom, as he implied, is all in all.

He answered mildly, \x93Zee, the Tish is in no danger and it is my belief
the he can take very good care of himself.\x94

\x93I would rather that he let me charge myself with his care. Oh, heart of
my heart, it was in the thought of thy danger that I first felt how much
I loved thee!\x94

Never did man feel in such a false position as I did. These words were
spoken loud in the hearing of Zee\x92s father--in the hearing of the child
who steered. I blushed with shame for them, and for her, and could not
help replying angrily: \x93Zee, either you mock me, which, as your father\x92s
guest, misbecomes you, or the words you utter are improper for a maiden
Gy to address even to an An of her own race, if he has not wooed her
with the consent of her parents. How much more improper to address them
to a Tish, who has never presumed to solicit your affections, and who
can never regard you with other sentiments than those of reverence and
awe!\x94

Aph-Lin made me a covert sing of approbation, but said nothing. \x93Be not
so cruel!\x94 exclaimed Zee, still in sonorous accents. \x93Can love command
itself where it is truly felt? Do you suppose that a maiden Gy will
conceal a sentiment that it elevates her to feel? What a country you
must have come from!\x94

Here Aph-Lin gently interposed, saying, \x93Among the Tish-a the rights of
your sex do not appear to be established, and at all events my guest may
converse with you more freely if unchecked by the presence of others.\x94

To this remark Zee made no reply, but, darting on me a tender
reproachful glance, agitated her wings and fled homeward.

\x93I had counted, at least, on some aid from my host,\x94 I said bitterly,
\x93in the perils to which his own daughter exposes me.\x94

\x93I gave you the best aid I could. To contradict a Gy in her love affairs
is to confirm her purpose. She allows no counsel to come between her and
her affections.\x94



Chapter XXIV.


On alighting from the air-boat, a child accosted Aph-Lin in the hall
with a request that he would be present at the funeral obsequies of a
relation who had recently departed from that nether world.

Now, I had never seen a burial-place or cemetery amongst this people,
and, glad to seize even so melancholy an occasion to defer an encounter
with Zee, I asked Aph-Lin if I might be permitted to witness with him
the interment of his relation; unless, indeed, it were regarded as one
of those sacred ceremonies to which a stranger to their race might not
be admitted.

\x93The departure of an An to a happier world,\x94 answered my host, \x93when, as
in the case of my kinsman, he has lived so long in this as to have lost
pleasure in it, is rather a cheerful though quiet festival than a sacred
ceremony, and you may accompany me if you will.\x94

Preceded by the child-messenger, we walked up the main street to a house
at some little distance, and, entering the hall, were conducted to a
room on the ground floor, where we found several persons assembled round
a couch on which was laid the deceased. It was an old man, who had, as I
was told, lived beyond his 130th year. To judge by the calm smile on his
countenance, he had passed away without suffering. One of the sons, who
was now the head of the family, and who seemed in vigorous middle life,
though he was considerably more than seventy, stepped forward with a
cheerful face and told Aph-Lin \x93that the day before he died his father
had seen in a dream his departed Gy, and was eager to be reunited to
her, and restored to youth beneath the nearer smile of the All-Good.\x94

While these two were talking, my attention was drawn to a dark metallic
substance at the farther end of the room. It was about twenty feet in
length, narrow in proportion, and all closed round, save, near the roof,
there were small round holes through which might be seen a red light.
From the interior emanated a rich and sweet perfume; and while I was
conjecturing what purpose this machine was to serve, all the time-pieces
in the town struck the hour with their solemn musical chime; and as
that sound ceased, music of a more joyous character, but still of a joy
subdued and tranquil, rang throughout the chamber, and from the walls
beyond, in a choral peal. Symphonious with the melody, those in the room
lifted their voices in chant. The words of this hymn were simple. They
expressed no regret, no farewell, but rather a greeting to the new world
whither the deceased had preceded the living. Indeed, in their language,
the funeral hymn is called the \x91Birth Song.\x92 Then the corpse, covered
by a long cerement, was tenderly lifted up by six of the nearest kinfolk
and borne towards the dark thing I have described. I pressed forward to
see what happened. A sliding door or panel at one end was lifted up--the
body deposited within, on a shelf--the door reclosed--a spring a the
side touched--a sudden \x91whishing,\x92 sighing sound heard from within;
and lo! at the other end of the machine the lid fell down, and a small
handful of smouldering dust dropped into a \x91patera\x92 placed to receive
it. The son took up the \x91patera\x92 and said (in what I understood
afterwards was the usual form of words), \x93Behold how great is the Maker!
To this little dust He gave form and life and soul. It needs not this
little dust for Him to renew form and life and soul to the beloved one
we shall soon see again.\x94

Each present bowed his head and pressed his hand to his heart. Then a
young female child opened a small door within the wall, and I perceived,
in the recess, shelves on which were placed many \x91paterae\x92 like that
which the son held, save that they all had covers. With such a cover
a Gy now approached the son, and placed it over the cup, on which it
closed with a spring. On the lid were engraven the name of the deceased,
and these words:--\x93Lent to us\x94 (here the date of birth). \x93Recalled from
us\x94 (here the date of death).

The closed door shut with a musical sound, and all was over.



Chapter XXV.


\x93And this,\x94 said I, with my mind full of what I had witnessed--\x93this, I
presume, is your usual form of burial?\x94

\x93Our invariable form,\x94 answered Aph-Lin. \x93What is it amongst your
people?\x94

\x93We inter the body whole within the earth.\x94

\x93What! To degrade the form you have loved and honoured, the wife on
whose breast you have slept, to the loathsomeness of corruption?\x94 \x93But
if the soul lives again, can it matter whether the body waste within
the earth or is reduced by that awful mechanism, worked, no doubt by the
agency of vril, into a pinch of dust?\x94

\x93You answer well,\x94 said my host, \x93and there is no arguing on a matter
of feeling; but to me your custom is horrible and repulsive, and would
serve to invest death with gloomy and hideous associations. It is
something, too, to my mind, to be able to preserve the token of what has
been our kinsman or friend within the abode in which we live. We thus
feel more sensibly that he still lives, though not visibly so to us. But
our sentiments in this, as in all things, are created by custom. Custom
is not to be changed by a wise An, any more than it is changed by a
wise Community, without the greatest deliberation, followed by the
most earnest conviction. It is only thus that change ceases to be
changeability, and once made is made for good.\x94

When we regained the house, Aph-Lin summoned some of the children in his
service and sent them round to several of his friends, requesting their
attendance that day, during the Easy Hours, to a festival in honour of
his kinsman\x92s recall to the All-Good. This was the largest and gayest
assembly I ever witnessed during my stay among the Ana, and was
prolonged far into the Silent Hours.

The banquet was spread in a vast chamber reserved especially for grand
occasions. This differed from our entertainments, and was not without
a certain resemblance to those we read of in the luxurious age of the
Roman empire. There was not one great table set out, but numerous small
tables, each appropriated to eight guests. It is considered that beyond
that number conversation languishes and friendship cools. The Ana never
laugh loud, as I have before observed, but the cheerful ring of their
voices at the various tables betokened gaiety of intercourse. As they
have no stimulant drinks, and are temperate in food, though so choice
and dainty, the banquet itself did not last long. The tables sank
through the floor, and then came musical entertainments for those who
liked them. Many, however, wandered away:--some of the younger ascended
in their wings, for the hall was roofless, forming aerial dances; others
strolled through the various apartments, examining the curiosities with
which they were stored, or formed themselves into groups for various
games, the favourite of which is a complicated kind of chess played by
eight persons. I mixed with the crowd, but was prevented joining in the
conversation by the constant companionship of one or the other of my
host\x92s sons, appointed to keep me from obtrusive questionings. The
guests, however, noticed me but slightly; they had grown accustomed to
my appearance, seeing me so often in the streets, and I had ceased to
excite much curiosity.

To my great delight Zee avoided me, and evidently sought to excite my
jealousy by marked attentions to a very handsome young An, who (though,
as is the modest custom of the males when addressed by females, he
answered with downcast eyes and blushing cheeks, and was demure and shy
as young ladies new to the world are in most civilised countries, except
England and America) was evidently much charmed by the tall Gy, and
ready to falter a bashful \x93Yes\x94 if she had actually proposed. Fervently
hoping that she would, and more and more averse to the idea of reduction
to a cinder after I had seen the rapidity with which a human body can be
hurried into a pinch of dust, I amused myself by watching the manners of
the other young people. I had the satisfaction of observing that Zee was
no singular assertor of a female\x92s most valued rights. Wherever I turned
my eyes, or lent my ears, it seemed to me that the Gy was the wooing
party, and the An the coy and reluctant one. The pretty innocent airs
which an An gave himself on being thus courted, the dexterity with which
he evaded direct answers to professions of attachment, or turned into
jest the flattering compliments addressed to him, would have done honour
to the most accomplished coquette. Both my male chaperons were subjected
greatly to these seductive influences, and both acquitted themselves
with wonderful honour to their tact and self-control.

I said to the elder son, who preferred mechanical employments to
the management of a great property, and who was of an eminently
philosophical temperament,--\x93I find it difficult to conceive how at your
age, and with all the intoxicating effects on the senses, of music and
lights and perfumes, you can be so cold to that impassioned young Gy who
has just left you with tears in her eyes at your cruelty.\x94

The young An replied with a sigh, \x93Gentle Tish, the greatest misfortune
in life is to marry one Gy if you are in love with another.\x94

\x93Oh! You are in love with another?\x94

\x93Alas! Yes.\x94

\x93And she does not return your love?\x94

\x93I don\x92t know. Sometimes a look, a tone, makes me hope so; but she has
never plainly told me that she loves me.\x94

\x93Have you not whispered in her own ear that you love her?\x94

\x93Fie! What are you thinking of? What world do you come from? Could I so
betray the dignity of my sex? Could I be so un-Anly--so lost to shame,
as to own love to a Gy who has not first owned hers to me?\x94

\x93Pardon: I was not quite aware that you pushed the modesty of your sex
so far. But does no An ever say to a Gy, \x91I love you,\x92 till she says it
first to him?\x94

\x93I can\x92t say that no An has ever done so, but if he ever does, he is
disgraced in the eyes of the Ana, and secretly despised by the Gy-ei.
No Gy, well brought up, would listen to him; she would consider that
he audaciously infringed on the rights of her sex, while outraging the
modesty which dignifies his own. It is very provoking,\x94 continued the
An, \x93for she whom I love has certainly courted no one else, and I cannot
but think she likes me. Sometimes I suspect that she does not court me
because she fears I would ask some unreasonable settlement as to the
surrender of her rights. But if so, she cannot really love me, for where
a Gy really loves she forgoes all rights.\x94

\x93Is this young Gy present?\x94

\x93Oh yes. She sits yonder talking to my mother.\x94

I looked in the direction to which my eyes were thus guided, and saw
a Gy dressed in robes of bright red, which among this people is a sign
that a Gy as yet prefers a single state. She wears gray, a neutral tint,
to indicate that she is looking about for a spouse; dark purple if she
wishes to intimate that she has made a choice; purple and orange when
she is betrothed or married; light blue when she is divorced or a widow,
and would marry again. Light blue is of course seldom seen.

Among a people where all are of so high a type of beauty, it is
difficult to single out one as peculiarly handsome. My young friend\x92s
choice seemed to me to possess the average of good looks; but there was
an expression in her face that pleased me more than did the faces of the
young Gy-ei generally, because it looked less bold--less conscious of
female rights. I observed that, while she talked to Bra, she glanced,
from time to time, sidelong at my young friend.

\x93Courage,\x94 said I, \x93that young Gy loves you.\x94

\x93Ay, but if she shall not say so, how am I the better for her love?\x94

\x93Your mother is aware of your attachment?\x94

\x93Perhaps so. I never owned it to her. It would be un-Anly to confide
such weakness to a mother. I have told my father; he may have told it
again to his wife.\x94

\x93Will you permit me to quit you for a moment and glide behind your
mother and your beloved? I am sure they are talking about you. Do not
hesitate. I promise that I will not allow myself to be questioned till I
rejoin you.\x94

The young An pressed his hand on his heart, touched me lightly on the
head, and allowed me to quit his side. I stole unobserved behind his
mother and his beloved. I overheard their talk. Bra was speaking;
said she, \x93There can be no doubt of this: either my son, who is of
marriageable age, will be decoyed into marriage with one of his many
suitors, or he will join those who emigrate to a distance and we shall
see him no more. If you really care for him, my dear Lo, you should
propose.\x94

\x93I do care for him, Bra; but I doubt if I could really ever win his
affections. He is fond of his inventions and timepieces; and I am not
like Zee, but so dull that I fear I could not enter into his favourite
pursuits, and then he would get tired of me, and at the end of three
years divorce me, and I could never marry another--never.\x94

\x93It is not necessary to know about timepieces to know how to be so
necessary to the happiness of an An, who cares for timepieces, that he
would rather give up the timepieces than divorce his Gy. You see, my
dear Lo,\x94 continued Bra, \x93that precisely because we are the stronger
sex, we rule the other provided we never show our strength. If you were
superior to my son in making timepieces and automata, you should, as
his wife, always let him suppose you thought him superior in that art to
yourself. The An tacitly allows the pre-eminence of the Gy in all
except his own special pursuit. But if she either excels him in that,
or affects not to admire him for his proficiency in it, he will not love
her very long; perhaps he may even divorce her. But where a Gy really
loves, she soon learns to love all that the An does.\x94

The young Gy made no answer to this address. She looked down musingly,
then a smile crept over her lips, and she rose, still silent, and went
through the crowd till she paused by the young An who loved her. I
followed her steps, but discreetly stood at a little distance while
I watched them. Somewhat to my surprise, till I recollected the coy
tactics among the Ana, the lover seemed to receive her advances with an
air of indifference. He even moved away, but she pursued his steps,
and, a little time after, both spread their wings and vanished amid the
luminous space above.

Just then I was accosted by the chief magistrate, who mingled with the
crowd distinguished by no signs of deference or homage. It so happened
that I had not seen this great dignitary since the day I had entered
his dominions, and recalling Aph-Lin\x92s words as to his terrible doubt
whether or not I should be dissected, a shudder crept over me at the
sight of his tranquil countenance.

\x93I hear much of you, stranger, from my son Taee,\x94 said the Tur, laying
his hand politely on my bended head. \x93He is very fond of your society,
and I trust you are not displeased with the customs of our people.\x94

I muttered some unintelligible answer, which I intended to be an
assurance of my gratitude for the kindness I had received from the Tur,
and my admiration of his countrymen, but the dissecting-knife gleamed
before my mind\x92s eye and choked my utterance. A softer voice said, \x93My
brother\x92s friend must be dear to me.\x94 And looking up I saw a young
Gy, who might be sixteen years old, standing beside the magistrate and
gazing at me with a very benignant countenance. She had not come to her
full growth, and was scarcely taller than myself (viz., about feet 10
inches), and, thanks to that comparatively diminutive stature, I thought
her the loveliest Gy I had hitherto seen. I suppose something in my eyes
revealed that impression, for her countenance grew yet more benignant.
\x93Taee tells me,\x94 she said, \x93that you have not yet learned to accustom
yourself to wings. That grieves me, for I should have liked to fly with
you.\x94

\x93Alas!\x94 I replied, \x93I can never hope to enjoy that happiness. I am
assured by Zee that the safe use of wings is a hereditary gift, and it
would take generations before one of my race could poise himself in the
air like a bird.\x94 \x93Let not that thought vex you too much,\x94 replied this
amiable Princess, \x93for, after all, there must come a day when Zee and
myself must resign our wings forever. Perhaps when that day comes we
might be glad if the An we chose was also without wings.\x94

The Tur had left us, and was lost amongst the crowd. I began to feel
at ease with Taee\x92s charming sister, and rather startled her by the
boldness of my compliment in replying, \x93that no An she could choose
would ever use his wings to fly away from her.\x94 It is so against custom
for an An to say such civil things to a Gy till she has declared her
passion for him, and been accepted as his betrothed, that the young
maiden stood quite dumbfounded for a few moments. Nevertheless she
did not seem displeased. At last recovering herself, she invited me to
accompany her into one of the less crowded rooms and listen to the songs
of the birds. I followed her steps as she glided before me, and she led
me into a chamber almost deserted. A fountain of naphtha was playing in
the centre of the room; round it were ranged soft divans, and the walls
of the room were open on one side to an aviary in which the birds
were chanting their artful chorus. The Gy seated herself on one of the
divans, and I placed myself at her side. \x93Taee tells me,\x94 she said,
\x93that Aph-Lin has made it the law* of his house that you are not to be
questioned as to the country you come from or the reason why you visit
us. Is it so?\x94

* Literally \x93has said, In this house be it requested.\x94 Words synonymous
with law, as implying forcible obligation, are avoided by this singular
people. Even had it been decreed by the Tur that his College of Sages
should dissect me, the decree would have ran blandly thus,--\x93Be it
requested that, for the good of the community, the carnivorous Tish be
requested to submit himself to dissection.\x94

\x93It is.\x94

\x93May I, at least, without sinning against that law, ask at least if the
Gy-ei in your country are of the same pale colour as yourself, and no
taller?\x94

\x93I do not think, O beautiful Gy, that I infringe the law of Aph-Lin,
which is more binding on myself than any one, if I answer questions so
innocent. The Gy-ei in my country are much fairer of hue than I am, and
their average height is at least a head shorter than mine.\x94

\x93They cannot then be so strong as the Ana amongst you? But I suppose
their superior vril force makes up for such extraordinary disadvantage
of size?\x94

\x93They do not profess the vril force as you know it. But still they are
very powerful in my country, and an An has small chance of a happy life
if he be not more or less governed by his Gy.\x94

\x93You speak feelingly,\x94 said Taee\x92s sister, in a tone of voice half sad,
half petulant. \x93You are married, of course.\x94

\x93No--certainly not.\x94

\x93Nor betrothed?\x94

\x93Nor betrothed.\x94

\x93Is it possible that no Gy has proposed to you?\x94

\x93In my country the Gy does not propose; the An speaks first.\x94

\x93What a strange reversal of the laws of nature!\x94 said the maiden, \x93and
what want of modesty in your sex! But have you never proposed, never
loved one Gy more than another?\x94

I felt embarrassed by these ingenious questionings, and said, \x93Pardon
me, but I think we are beginning to infringe upon Aph-Lin\x92s injunction.
This much only will I answer, and then, I implore you, ask no more. I
did once feel the preference you speak of; I did propose, and the
Gy would willingly have accepted me, but her parents refused their
consent.\x94

\x93Parents! Do you mean seriously to tell me that parents can interfere
with the choice of their daughters?\x94

\x93Indeed they can, and do very often.\x94

\x93I should not like to live in that country,\x94 said the Gy simply; \x93but I
hope you will never go back to it.\x94

I bowed my head in silence. The Gy gently raised my face with her right
hand, and looked into it tenderly. \x93Stay with us,\x94 she said; \x93stay with
us, and be loved.\x94 What I might have answered, what dangers of becoming
a cinder I might have encountered, I still trouble to think, when the
light of the naphtha fountain was obscured by the shadow of wings; and
Zee, flying though the open roof, alighted beside us. She said not a
word, but, taking my arm with her mighty hand, she drew me away, as a
mother draws a naughty child, and led me through the apartments to one
of the corridors, on which, by the mechanism they generally prefer to
stairs, we ascended to my own room. This gained, Zee breathed on my
forehead, touched my breast with her staff, and I was instantly plunged
into a profound sleep.

When I awoke some hours later, and heard the songs of the birds in the
adjoining aviary, the remembrance of Taee\x92s sister, her gentle looks and
caressing words, vividly returned to me; and so impossible is it for one
born and reared in our upper world\x92s state of society to divest
himself of ideas dictated by vanity and ambition, that I found myself
instinctively building proud castles in the air.

\x93Tish though I be,\x94 thus ran my meditations--\x93Tish though I be, it is
then clear that Zee is not the only Gy whom my appearance can captivate.
Evidently I am loved by A PRINCESS, the first maiden of this land, the
daughter of the absolute Monarch whose autocracy they so idly seek to
disguise by the republican title of chief magistrate. But for the sudden
swoop of that horrible Zee, this Royal Lady would have formally proposed
to me; and though it may be very well for Aph-Lin, who is only a
subordinate minister, a mere Commissioner of Light, to threaten me with
destruction if I accept his daughter\x92s hand, yet a Sovereign, whose word
is law, could compel the community to abrogate any custom that forbids
intermarriage with one of a strange race, and which in itself is a
contradiction to their boasted equality of ranks.

\x93It is not to be supposed that his daughter, who spoke with such
incredulous scorn of the interference of parents, would not have
sufficient influence with her Royal Father to save me from the
combustion to which Aph-Lin would condemn my form. And if I were exalted
by such an alliance, who knows but what the Monarch might elect me as
his successor? Why not? Few among this indolent race of philosophers
like the burden of such greatness. All might be pleased to see the
supreme power lodged in the hands of an accomplished stranger who has
experience of other and livelier forms of existence; and once chosen,
what reforms I would institute! What additions to the really pleasant
but too monotonous life of this realm my familiarity with the civilised
nations above ground would effect! I am fond of the sports of the field.
Next to war, is not the chase a king\x92s pastime? In what varieties of
strange game does this nether world abound? How interesting to strike
down creatures that were known above ground before the Deluge! But how?
By that terrible vril, in which, from want of hereditary transmission, I
could never be a proficient? No, but by a civilised handy breech-loader,
which these ingenious mechanicians could not only make, but no doubt
improve; nay, surely I saw one in the Museum. Indeed, as absolute king,
I should discountenance vril altogether, except in cases of war. Apropos
of war, it is perfectly absurd to stint a people so intelligent, so
rich, so well armed, to a petty limit of territory sufficing for
10,000 or 12,000 families. Is not this restriction a mere philosophical
crotchet, at variance with the aspiring element in human nature, such as
has been partially, and with complete failure, tried in the upper world
by the late Mr. Robert Owen? Of course one would not go to war with the
neighbouring nations as well armed as one\x92s own subjects; but then,
what of those regions inhabited by races unacquainted with vril, and
apparently resembling, in their democratic institutions, my American
countrymen? One might invade them without offence to the vril nations,
our allies, appropriate their territories, extending, perhaps, to the
most distant regions of the nether earth, and thus rule over an empire
in which the sun never sets. (I forgot, in my enthusiasm, that over
those regions there was no sun to set). As for the fantastical notion
against conceding fame or renown to an eminent individual, because,
forsooth, bestowal of honours insures contest in the pursuit of them,
stimulates angry passions, and mars the felicity of peace--it is opposed
to the very elements, not only of the human, but of the brute creation,
which are all, if tamable, participators in the sentiment of praise and
emulation. What renown would be given to a king who thus extended his
empire! I should be deemed a demigod.\x94 Thinking of that, the other
fanatical notion of regulating this life by reference to one which,
no doubt, we Christians firmly believe in, but never take into
consideration, I resolved that enlightened philosophy compelled me to
abolish a heathen religion so superstitiously at variance with modern
thought and practical action. Musing over these various projects, I felt
how much I should have liked at that moment to brighten my wits by
a good glass of whiskey-and-water. Not that I am habitually a
spirit-drinker, but certainly there are times when a little stimulant
of alcoholic nature, taken with a cigar, enlivens the imagination. Yes;
certainly among these herbs and fruits there would be a liquid from
which one could extract a pleasant vinous alcohol; and with a steak cut
off one of those elks (ah! what offence to science to reject the animal
food which our first medical men agree in recommending to the gastric
juices of mankind!) one would certainly pass a more exhilarating hour
of repast. Then, too, instead of those antiquated dramas performed
by childish amateurs, certainly, when I am king, I will introduce our
modern opera and a \x91corps de ballet,\x92 for which one might find, among
the nations I shall conquer, young females of less formidable height and
thews than the Gy-ei--not armed with vril, and not insisting upon one\x92s
marrying them.

I was so completely rapt in these and similar reforms, political,
social, and moral, calculated to bestow on the people of the nether
world the blessings of a civilisation known to the races of the upper,
that I did not perceive that Zee had entered the chamber till I heard a
deep sigh, and, raising my eyes, beheld her standing by my couch.

I need not say that, according to the manners of this people, a Gy can,
without indecorum, visit an An in his chamber, although an An would be
considered forward and immodest to the last degree if he entered the
chamber of a Gy without previously obtaining her permission to do
so. Fortunately I was in the full habiliments I had worn when Zee had
deposited me on the couch. Nevertheless I felt much irritated, as well
as shocked, by her visit, and asked in a rude tone what she wanted.

\x93Speak gently, beloved one, I entreat you,\x94 said she, \x93for I am very
unhappy. I have not slept since we parted.\x94

\x93A due sense of your shameful conduct to me as your father\x92s guest might
well suffice to banish sleep from your eyelids. Where was the affection
you pretend to have for me, where was even that politeness on which the
Vril-ya pride themselves, when, taking advantage alike of that physical
strength in which your sex, in this extraordinary region, excels our
own, and of those detestable and unhallowed powers which the agencies of
vril invest in your eyes and finger-ends, you exposed me to humiliation
before your assembled visitors, before Her Royal Highness--I mean, the
daughter of your own chief magistrate,--carrying me off to bed like a
naughty infant, and plunging me into sleep, without asking my consent?\x94

\x93Ungrateful! Do you reproach me for the evidences of my love? Can you
think that, even if unstung by the jealousy which attends upon love
till it fades away in blissful trust when we know that the heart we
have wooed is won, I could be indifferent to the perils to which the
audacious overtures of that silly little child might expose you?\x94 \x93Hold!
Since you introduce the subject of perils, it perhaps does not misbecome
me to say that my most imminent perils come from yourself, or at least
would come if I believed in your love and accepted your addresses. Your
father has told me plainly that in that case I should be consumed into
a cinder with as little compunction as if I were the reptile whom Taee
blasted into ashes with the flash of his wand.\x94

\x93Do not let that fear chill your heart to me,\x94 exclaimed Zee, dropping
on her knees and absorbing my right hand in the space of her ample palm.
\x93It is true, indeed, that we two cannot wed as those of the same race
wed; true that the love between us must be pure as that which, in our
belief, exists between lovers who reunite in the new life beyond that
boundary at which the old life ends. But is it not happiness enough to
be together, wedded in mind and in heart? Listen: I have just left
my father. He consents to our union on those terms. I have sufficient
influence with the College of Sages to insure their request to the Tur
not to interfere with the free choice of a Gy; provided that her wedding
with one of another race be but the wedding of souls. Oh, think you that
true love needs ignoble union? It is not that I yearn only to be by your
side in this life, to be part and parcel of your joys and sorrows here:
I ask here for a tie which will bind us for ever and for ever in the
world of immortals. Do you reject me?\x94

As she spoke, she knelt, and the whole character of her face was
changed; nothing of sternness left to its grandeur; a divine light, as
that of an immortal, shining out from its human beauty. But she rather
awed me as an angel than moved me as a woman, and after an embarrassed
pause, I faltered forth evasive expressions of gratitude, and sought, as
delicately as I could, to point out how humiliating would be my position
amongst her race in the light of a husband who might never be permitted
the name of father.

\x93But,\x94 said Zee, \x93this community does not constitute the whole world.
No; nor do all the populations comprised in the league of the Vril-ya.
For thy sake I will renounce my country and my people. We will fly
together to some region where thou shalt be safe. I am strong enough to
bear thee on my wings across the deserts that intervene. I am skilled
enough to cleave open, amidst the rocks, valleys in which to build
our home. Solitude and a hut with thee would be to me society and the
universe. Or wouldst thou return to thine own world, above the surface
of this, exposed to the uncertain seasons, and lit but by the changeful
orbs which constitute by thy description the fickle character of those
savage regions? I so, speak the word, and I will force the way for thy
return, so that I am thy companion there, though, there as here, but
partner of thy soul, and fellow traveller with thee to the world in
which there is no parting and no death.\x94

I could not but be deeply affected by the tenderness, at once so pure
and so impassioned, with which these words were uttered, and in a voice
that would have rendered musical the roughest sounds in the rudest
tongue. And for a moment it did occur to me that I might avail myself of
Zee\x92s agency to effect a safe and speedy return to the upper world. But
a very brief space for reflection sufficed to show me how dishonourable
and base a return for such devotion it would be to allure thus away,
from her own people and a home in which I had been so hospitably
treated, a creature to whom our world would be so abhorrent, and
for whose barren, if spiritual love, I could not reconcile myself to
renounce the more human affection of mates less exalted above my erring
self. With this sentiment of duty towards the Gy combined another of
duty towards the whole race I belonged to. Could I venture to introduce
into the upper world a being so formidably gifted--a being that with a
movement of her staff could in less than an hour reduce New York and its
glorious Koom-Posh into a pinch of snuff? Rob her of her staff, with
her science she could easily construct another; and with the deadly
lightnings that armed the slender engine her whole frame was charged. If
thus dangerous to the cities and populations of the whole upper earth,
could she be a safe companion to myself in case her affection should be
subjected to change or embittered by jealousy? These thoughts, which
it takes so many words to express, passed rapidly through my brain and
decided my answer.

\x93Zee,\x94 I said, in the softest tones I could command and pressing
respectful lips on the hand into whose clasp mine vanished--\x93Zee, I
can find no words to say how deeply I am touched, and how highly I am
honoured, by a love so disinterested and self-immolating. My best return
to it is perfect frankness. Each nation has its customs. The customs
of yours do not allow you to wed me; the customs of mine are equally
opposed to such a union between those of races so widely differing. On
the other hand, though not deficient in courage among my own people, or
amid dangers with which I am familiar, I cannot, without a shudder of
horror, think of constructing a bridal home in the heart of some dismal
chaos, with all the elements of nature, fire and water, and mephitic
gases, at war with each other, and with the probability that at some
moment, while you were busied in cleaving rocks or conveying vril into
lamps, I should be devoured by a krek which your operations disturbed
from its hiding-place. I, a mere Tish, do not deserve the love of a Gy,
so brilliant, so learned, so potent as yourself. Yes, I do not deserve
that love, for I cannot return it.\x94

Zee released my hand, rose to her feet, and turned her face away to hide
her emotions; then she glided noiselessly along the room, and paused at
the threshold. Suddenly, impelled as by a new thought, she returned to
my side and said, in a whispered tone,--

\x93You told me you would speak with perfect frankness. With perfect
frankness, then, answer me this question. If you cannot love me, do you
love another?\x94

\x93Certainly, I do not.\x94

\x93You do not love Taee\x92s sister?\x94

\x93I never saw her before last night.\x94 \x93That is no answer. Love is swifter
than vril. You hesitate to tell me. Do not think it is only jealousy
that prompts me to caution you. If the Tur\x92s daughter should declare
love to you--if in her ignorance she confides to her father any
preference that may justify his belief that she will woo you, he will
have no option but to request your immediate destruction, as he is
specially charged with the duty of consulting the good of the community,
which could not allow the daughter of the Vril-ya to wed a son of the
Tish-a, in that sense of marriage which does not confine itself to union
of the souls. Alas! there would then be for you no escape. She has
no strength of wing to uphold you through the air; she has no science
wherewith to make a home in the wilderness. Believe that here my
friendship speaks, and that my jealousy is silent.\x94

With these words Zee left me. And recalling those words, I thought no
more of succeeding to the throne of the Vril-ya, or of the political,
social, and moral reforms I should institute in the capacity of Absolute
Sovereign.



Chapter XXVI.


After the conversation with Zee just recorded, I fell into a profound
melancholy. The curious interest with which I had hitherto examined the
life and habits of this marvellous community was at an end. I could not
banish from my mind the consciousness that I was among a people who,
however kind and courteous, could destroy me at any moment without
scruple or compunction. The virtuous and peaceful life of the
people which, while new to me, had seemed so holy a contrast to the
contentions, the passions, the vices of the upper world, now began
to oppress me with a sense of dulness and monotony. Even the serene
tranquility of the lustrous air preyed on my spirits. I longed for a
change, even to winter, or storm, or darkness. I began to feel that,
whatever our dreams of perfectibility, our restless aspirations towards
a better, and higher, and calmer, sphere of being, we, the mortals of
the upper world, are not trained or fitted to enjoy for long the very
happiness of which we dream or to which we aspire.

Now, in this social state of the Vril-ya, it was singular to mark how
it contrived to unite and to harmonise into one system nearly all the
objects which the various philosophers of the upper world have placed
before human hopes as the ideals of a Utopian future. It was a state in
which war, with all its calamities, was deemed impossible,--a state in
which the freedom of all and each was secured to the uttermost degree,
without one of those animosities which make freedom in the upper world
depend on the perpetual strife of hostile parties. Here the corruption
which debases democracies was as unknown as the discontents which
undermine the thrones of monarchies. Equality here was not a name; it
was a reality. Riches were not persecuted, because they were not envied.
Here those problems connected with the labours of a working class,
hitherto insoluble above ground, and above ground conducing to such
bitterness between classes, were solved by a process the simplest,--a
distinct and separate working class was dispensed with altogether.
Mechanical inventions, constructed on the principles that baffled my
research to ascertain, worked by an agency infinitely more powerful and
infinitely more easy of management than aught we have yet extracted from
electricity or steam, with the aid of children whose strength was
never overtasked, but who loved their employment as sport and pastime,
sufficed to create a Public-wealth so devoted to the general use that
not a grumbler was ever heard of. The vices that rot our cities here
had no footing. Amusements abounded, but they were all innocent. No
merry-makings conduced to intoxication, to riot, to disease. Love
existed, and was ardent in pursuit, but its object, once secured, was
faithful. The adulterer, the profligate, the harlot, were phenomena so
unknown in this commonwealth, that even to find the words by which they
were designated one would have had to search throughout an obsolete
literature composed thousands of years before. They who have been
students of theoretical philosophies above ground, know that all these
strange departures from civilised life do but realise ideas which have
been broached, canvassed, ridiculed, contested for; sometimes partially
tried, and still put forth in fantastic books, but have never come
to practical result. Nor were these all the steps towards theoretical
perfectibility which this community had made. It had been the sober
belief of Descartes that the life of man could be prolonged, not,
indeed, on this earth, to eternal duration, but to what he called the
age of the patriarchs, and modestly defined to be from 100 to 150 years
average length. Well, even this dream of sages was here fulfilled--nay,
more than fulfilled; for the vigour of middle life was preserved even
after the term of a century was passed. With this longevity was combined
a greater blessing than itself--that of continuous health. Such diseases
as befell the race were removed with ease by scientific applications of
that agency--life-giving as life-destroying--which is inherent in vril.
Even this idea is not unknown above ground, though it has generally
been confined to enthusiasts or charlatans, and emanates from confused
notions about mesmerism, odic force, &c. Passing by such trivial
contrivances as wings, which every schoolboy knows has been tried and
found wanting, from the mythical or pre-historical period, I proceed to
that very delicate question, urged of late as essential to the perfect
happiness of our human species by the two most disturbing and potential
influences on upper-ground society,--Womankind and Philosophy. I mean,
the Rights of Women.

Now, it is allowed by jurisprudists that it is idle to talk of rights
where there are not corresponding powers to enforce them; and above
ground, for some reason or other, man, in his physical force, in the use
of weapons offensive and defensive, when it come to positive personal
contest, can, as a rule of general application, master women. But among
this people there can be no doubt about the rights of women, because, as
I have before said, the Gy, physically speaking, is bigger and stronger
than the An; and her will being also more resolute than his, and will
being essential to the direction of the vril force, she can bring to
bear upon him, more potently than he on herself, the mystical agency
which art can extract from the occult properties of nature. Therefore
all that our female philosophers above ground contend for as to rights
of women, is conceded as a matter of course in this happy commonwealth.
Besides such physical powers, the Gy-ei have (at least in youth) a keen
desire for accomplishments and learning which exceeds that of the male;
and thus they are the scholars, the professors--the learned portion, in
short, of the community.

Of course, in this state of society the female establishes, as I have
shown, her most valued privilege, that of choosing and courting her
wedding partner. Without that privilege she would despise all the
others. Now, above ground, we should not unreasonably apprehend that a
female, thus potent and thus privileged, when she had fairly hunted us
down and married us, would be very imperious and tyrannical. Not so with
the Gy-ei: once married, the wings once suspended, and more amiable,
complacent, docile mates, more sympathetic, more sinking their loftier
capacities into the study of their husbands\x92 comparatively frivolous
tastes and whims, no poet could conceive in his visions of conjugal
bliss. Lastly, among the more important characteristics of the Vril-ya,
as distinguished from our mankind--lastly, and most important on the
bearings of their life and the peace of their commonwealths, is their
universal agreement in the existence of a merciful beneficent Diety, and
of a future world to the duration of which a century or two are moments
too brief to waste upon thoughts of fame and power and avarice; while
with that agreement is combined another--viz., since they can know
nothing as to the nature of that Diety beyond the fact of His supreme
goodness, nor of that future world beyond the fact of its felicitous
existence, so their reason forbids all angry disputes on insoluble
questions. Thus they secure for that state in the bowels of the earth
what no community ever secured under the light of the stars--all the
blessings and consolations of a religion without any of the evils and
calamities which are engendered by strife between one religion and
another.

It would be, then, utterly impossible to deny that the state of
existence among the Vril-ya is thus, as a whole, immeasurably more
felicitous than that of super-terrestrial races, and, realising the
dreams of our most sanguine philanthropists, almost approaches to a
poet\x92s conception of some angelical order. And yet, if you would take
a thousand of the best and most philosophical of human beings you could
find in London, Paris, Berlin, New York, or even Boston, and place them
as citizens in the beatified community, my belief is, that in less than
a year they would either die of ennui, or attempt some revolution by
which they would militate against the good of the community, and be
burnt into cinders at the request of the Tur.

Certainly I have no desire to insinuate, through the medium of this
narrative, any ignorant disparagement of the race to which I belong. I
have, on the contrary, endeavoured to make it clear that the principles
which regulate the social system of the Vril-ya forbid them to produce
those individual examples of human greatness which adorn the annals of
the upper world. Where there are no wars there can be no Hannibal, no
Washington, no Jackson, no Sheridan;--where states are so happy that
they fear no danger and desire no change, they cannot give birth to a
Demosthenes, a Webster, a Sumner, a Wendell Holmes, or a Butler; and
where a society attains to a moral standard, in which there are no
crimes and no sorrows from which tragedy can extract its aliment of pity
and sorrow, no salient vices or follies on which comedy can lavish its
mirthful satire, it has lost the chance of producing a Shakespeare, or
a Moliere, or a Mrs. Beecher-Stowe. But if I have no desire to disparage
my fellow-men above ground in showing how much the motives that impel
the energies and ambition of individuals in a society of contest and
struggle--become dormant or annulled in a society which aims at securing
for the aggregate the calm and innocent felicity which we presume to be
the lot of beatified immortals; neither, on the other hand, have I the
wish to represent the commonwealths of the Vril-ya as an ideal form of
political society, to the attainment of which our own efforts of reform
should be directed. On the contrary, it is because we have so combined,
throughout the series of ages, the elements which compose human
character, that it would be utterly impossible for us to adopt the modes
of life, or to reconcile our passions to the modes of thought among
the Vril-ya,--that I arrived at the conviction that this people--though
originally not only of our human race, but, as seems to me clear by the
roots of their language, descended from the same ancestors as the Great
Aryan family, from which in varied streams has flowed the dominant
civilisation of the world; and having, according to their myths
and their history, passed through phases of society familiar to
ourselves,--had yet now developed into a distinct species with which it
was impossible that any community in the upper world could amalgamate:
and that if they ever emerged from these nether recesses into the light
of day, they would, according to their own traditional persuasions of
their ultimate destiny, destroy and replace our existent varieties of
man.

It may, indeed, be said, since more than one Gy could be found to
conceive a partiality for so ordinary a type of our super-terrestrial
race as myself, that even if the Vril-ya did appear above ground, we
might be saved from extermination by intermixture of race. But this is
too sanguine a belief. Instances of such \x91mesalliance\x92 would be as rare
as those of intermarriage between the Anglo-Saxon emigrants and the
Red Indians. Nor would time be allowed for the operation of familiar
intercourse. The Vril-ya, on emerging, induced by the charm of a sunlit
heaven to form their settlements above ground, would commence at once
the work of destruction, seize upon the territories already cultivated,
and clear off, without scruple, all the inhabitants who resisted
that invasion. And considering their contempt for the institutions of
Koom-Posh or Popular Government, and the pugnacious valour of my
beloved countrymen, I believe that if the Vril-ya first appeared in free
America--as, being the choicest portion of the habitable earth, they
would doubtless be induced to do--and said, \x93This quarter of the globe
we take; Citizens of a Koom-Posh, make way for the development of
species in the Vril-ya,\x94 my brave compatriots would show fight, and not
a soul of them would be left in this life, to rally round the Stars and
Stripes, at the end of a week.

I now saw but little of Zee, save at meals, when the family assembled,
and she was then reserved and silent. My apprehensions of danger from an
affection I had so little encouraged or deserved, therefore, now faded
away, but my dejection continued to increase. I pined for escape to the
upper world, but I racked my brains in vain for any means to effect it.
I was never permitted to wander forth alone, so that I could not even
visit the spot on which I had alighted, and see if it were possible to
reascend to the mine. Nor even in the Silent Hours, when the household
was locked in sleep, could I have let myself down from the lofty floor
in which my apartment was placed. I knew not how to command the automata
who stood mockingly at my beck beside the wall, nor could I ascertain
the springs by which were set in movement the platforms that supplied
the place of stairs. The knowledge how to avail myself of these
contrivances had been purposely withheld from me. Oh, that I could but
have learned the use of wings, so freely here at the service of every
infant, then I might have escaped from the casement, regained the rocks,
and buoyed myself aloft through the chasm of which the perpendicular
sides forbade place for human footing!



Chapter XXVII.


One day, as I sat alone and brooding in my chamber, Taee flew in at the
open window and alighted on the couch beside me. I was always pleased
with the visits of a child, in whose society, if humbled, I was less
eclipsed than in that of Ana who had completed their education and
matured their understanding. And as I was permitted to wander forth with
him for my companion, and as I longed to revisit the spot in which I
had descended into the nether world, I hastened to ask him if he were
at leisure for a stroll beyond the streets of the city. His countenance
seemed to me graver than usual as he replied, \x93I came hither on purpose
to invite you forth.\x94

We soon found ourselves in the street, and had not got far from the
house when we encountered five or six young Gy-ei, who were returning
from the fields with baskets full of flowers, and chanting a song in
chorus as they walked. A young Gy sings more often than she talks. They
stopped on seeing us, accosting Taee with familiar kindness, and me with
the courteous gallantry which distinguishes the Gy-ei in their manner
towards our weaker sex.

And here I may observe that, though a virgin Gy is so frank in
her courtship to the individual she favours, there is nothing that
approaches to that general breadth and loudness of manner which those
young ladies of the Anglo-Saxon race, to whom the distinguished epithet
of \x91fast\x92 is accorded, exhibit towards young gentlemen whom they do not
profess to love. No; the bearing of the Gy-ei towards males in ordinary
is very much that of high-bred men in the gallant societies of the upper
world towards ladies whom they respect but do not woo; deferential,
complimentary, exquisitely polished--what we should call \x91chivalrous.\x92

Certainly I was a little put out by the number of civil things addressed
to my \x91amour propre,\x92 which were said to me by those courteous young
Gy-ei. In the world I came from, a man would have thought himself
aggrieved, treated with irony, \x91chaffed\x92 (if so vulgar a slang word
may be allowed on the authority of the popular novelists who use it
so freely), when one fair Gy complimented me on the freshness of my
complexion, another on the choice of colours in my dress, a third, with
a sly smile, on the conquests I had made at Aph-Lin\x92s entertainment. But
I knew already that all such language was what the French call \x91banal,\x92
and did but express in the female mouth, below earth, that sort of
desire to pass for amiable with the opposite sex which, above earth,
arbitrary custom and hereditary transmission demonstrate by the mouth of
the male. And just as a high-bred young lady, above earth, habituated
to such compliments, feels that she cannot, without impropriety, return
them, nor evince any great satisfaction at receiving them; so I who
had learned polite manners at the house of so wealthy and dignified
a Minister of that nation, could but smile and try to look pretty in
bashfully disclaiming the compliments showered upon me. While we were
thus talking, Taee\x92s sister, it seems, had seen us from the upper rooms
of the Royal Palace at the entrance of the town, and, precipitating
herself on her wings, alighted in the midst of the group.

Singling me out, she said, though still with the inimitable deference
of manner which I have called \x91chivalrous,\x92 yet not without a certain
abruptness of tone which, as addressed to the weaker sex, Sir Philip
Sydney might have termed \x91rustic,\x92 \x93Why do you never come to see
us?\x94 While I was deliberating on the right answer to give to this
unlooked-for question, Taee said quickly and sternly, \x93Sister, you
forget--the stranger is of my sex. It is not for persons of my sex,
having due regard for reputation and modesty, to lower themselves by
running after the society of yours.\x94

This speech was received with evident approval by the young Gy-ei in
general; but Taee\x92s sister looked greatly abashed. Poor thing!--and a
PRINCESS too!

Just at this moment a shadow fell on the space between me and the group;
and, turning round, I beheld the chief magistrate coming close upon us,
with the silent and stately pace peculiar to the Vril-ya. At the sight
of his countenance, the same terror which had seized me when I first
beheld it returned. On that brow, in those eyes, there was that same
indefinable something which marked the being of a race fatal to our
own--that strange expression of serene exemption from our common cares
and passions, of conscious superior power, compassionate and inflexible
as that of a judge who pronounces doom. I shivered, and, inclining low,
pressed the arm of my child-friend, and drew him onward silently. The
Tur placed himself before our path, regarded me for a moment without
speaking, then turned his eye quietly on his daughter\x92s face, and, with
a grave salutation to her and the other Gy-ei, went through the midst of
the group,--still without a word.



Chapter XXVIII.


When Taee and I found ourselves alone on the broad road that lay between
the city and the chasm through which I had descended into this region
beneath the light of the stars and sun, I said under my breath, \x93Child
and friend, there is a look in your father\x92s face which appals me. I
feel as if, in its awful tranquillity, I gazed upon death.\x94

Taee did not immediately reply. He seemed agitated, and as if debating
with himself by what words to soften some unwelcome intelligence. At
last he said, \x93None of the Vril-ya fear death: do you?\x94

\x93The dread of death is implanted in the breasts of the race to which I
belong. We can conquer it at the call of duty, of honour, of love. We
can die for a truth, for a native land, for those who are dearer to us
than ourselves. But if death do really threaten me now and here, where
are such counteractions to the natural instinct which invests with awe
and terror the contemplation of severance between soul and body?\x94

Taee looked surprised, but there was great tenderness in his voice as
he replied, \x93I will tell my father what you say. I will entreat him to
spare your life.\x94

\x93He has, then, already decreed to destroy it?\x94

\x93\x91Tis my sister\x92s fault or folly,\x94 said Taee, with some petulance.
\x93But she spoke this morning to my father; and, after she had spoken,
he summoned me, as a chief among the children who are commissioned to
destroy such lives as threaten the community, and he said to me, \x91Take
thy vril staff, and seek the stranger who has made himself dear to thee.
Be his end painless and prompt.\x92\x94

\x93And,\x94 I faltered, recoiling from the child--\x93and it is, then, for my
murder that thus treacherously thou hast invited me forth? No, I cannot
believe it. I cannot think thee guilty of such a crime.\x94

\x93It is no crime to slay those who threaten the good of the community; it
would be a crime to slay the smallest insect that cannot harm us.\x94

\x93If you mean that I threaten the good of the community because your
sister honours me with the sort of preference which a child may feel for
a strange plaything, it is not necessary to kill me. Let me return to
the people I have left, and by the chasm through which I descended. With
a slight help from you I might do so now. You, by the aid of your wings,
could fasten to the rocky ledge within the chasm the cord that you
found, and have no doubt preserved. Do but that; assist me but to the
spot from which I alighted, and I vanish from your world for ever, and
as surely as if I were among the dead.\x94

\x93The chasm through which you descended! Look round; we stand now on the
very place where it yawned. What see you? Only solid rock. The chasm was
closed, by the orders of Aph-Lin, as soon as communication between him
and yourself was established in your trance, and he learned from
your own lips the nature of the world from which you came. Do you not
remember when Zee bade me not question you as to yourself or your
race? On quitting you that day, Aph-Lin accosted me, and said, \x91No path
between the stranger\x92s home and ours should be left unclosed, or the
sorrow and evil of his home may descend to ours. Take with thee the
children of thy band, smite the sides of the cavern with your vril
staves till the fall of their fragments fills up every chink through
which a gleam of our lamps could force its way.\x92\x94

As the child spoke, I stared aghast at the blind rocks before me. Huge
and irregular, the granite masses, showing by charred discolouration
where they had been shattered, rose from footing to roof-top; not a
cranny!

\x93All hope, then, is gone,\x94 I murmured, sinking down on the craggy
wayside, \x93and I shall nevermore see the sun.\x94 I covered my face with my
hands, and prayed to Him whose presence I had so often forgotten when
the heavens had declared His handiwork. I felt His presence in the
depths of the nether earth, and amidst the world of the grave. I looked
up, taking comfort and courage from my prayers, and, gazing with a quiet
smile into the face of the child, said, \x93Now, if thou must slay me,
strike.\x94

Taee shook his head gently. \x93Nay,\x94 he said, \x93my father\x92s request is not
so formally made as to leave me no choice. I will speak with him, and
may prevail to save thee. Strange that thou shouldst have that fear of
death which we thought was only the instinct of the inferior creatures,
to whom the convictions of another life has not been vouchsafed.
With us, not an infant knows such a fear. Tell me, my dear Tish,\x94
 he continued after a little pause, \x93would it reconcile thee more to
departure from this form of life to that form which lies on the other
side of the moment called \x91death,\x92 did I share thy journey? If so, I
will ask my father whether it be allowable for me to go with thee. I am
one of our generation destined to emigrate, when of age for it, to some
regions unknown within this world. I would just as soon emigrate now to
regions unknown, in another world. The All-Good is no less there than
here. Where is he not?\x94

\x93Child,\x94 said I, seeing by Taee\x92s countenance that he spoke in serious
earnest, \x93it is crime in thee to slay me; it were a crime not less in
me to say, \x91Slay thyself.\x92 The All-Good chooses His own time to give us
life, and his own time to take it away. Let us go back. If, on speaking
with thy father, he decides on my death, give me the longest warning in
thy power, so that I may pass the interval in self-preparation.\x94



Chapter XXIX.


In the midst of those hours set apart for sleep and constituting the
night of the Vril-ya, I was awakened from the disturbed slumber into
which I had not long fallen, by a hand on my shoulder. I started and
beheld Zee standing beside me. \x93Hush,\x94 she said in a whisper; \x93let no
one hear us. Dost thou think that I have ceased to watch over thy safety
because I could not win thy love? I have seen Taee. He has not prevailed
with his father, who had meanwhile conferred with the three sages who,
in doubtful matters, he takes into council, and by their advice he has
ordained thee to perish when the world re-awakens to life. I will save
thee. Rise and dress.\x94

Zee pointed to a table by the couch on which I saw the clothes I had
worn on quitting the upper world, and which I had exchanged subsequently
for the more picturesque garments of the Vril-ya. The young Gy then
moved towards the casement and stepped into the balcony, while hastily
and wonderingly I donned my own habiliments. When I joined her on the
balcony, her face was pale and rigid. Taking me by the hand, she said
softly, \x93See how brightly the art of the Vril-ya has lighted up the
world in which they dwell. To-morrow the world will be dark to me.\x94 She
drew me back into the room without waiting for my answer, thence into
the corridor, from which we descended into the hall. We passed into the
deserted streets and along the broad upward road which wound beneath the
rocks. Here, where there is neither day nor night, the Silent Hours
are unutterably solemn--the vast space illumined by mortal skill is
so wholly without the sight and stir of mortal life. Soft as were
our footsteps, their sounds vexed the ear, as out of harmony with the
universal repose. I was aware in my own mind, though Zee said it not,
that she had decided to assist my return to the upper world, and that
we were bound towards the place from which I had descended. Her silence
infected me and commanded mine. And now we approached the chasm. It had
been re-opened; not presenting, indeed, the same aspect as when I had
emerged from it, but through that closed wall of rock before which I
had last stood with Taee, a new clift had been riven, and along its
blackened sides still glimmered sparks and smouldered embers. My
upward gaze could not, however, penetrate more than a few feet into the
darkness of the hollow void, and I stood dismayed, and wondering how
that grim ascent was to be made.

Zee divined my doubt. \x93Fear not,\x94 said she, with a faint smile; \x93your
return is assured. I began this work when the Silent Hours commenced,
and all else were asleep; believe that I did not paused till the path
back into thy world was clear. I shall be with thee a little while yet.
We do not part until thou sayest, \x91Go, for I need thee no more.\x92\x94

My heart smote me with remorse at these words. \x93Ah!\x94 I exclaimed, \x93would
that thou wert of my race or I of thine, then I should never say, \x91I
need thee no more.\x92\x94

\x93I bless thee for those words, and I shall remember them when thou art
gone,\x94 answered the Gy, tenderly.

During this brief interchange of words, Zee had turned away from me, her
form bent and her head bowed over her breast. Now, she rose to the full
height of her grand stature, and stood fronting me. While she had been
thus averted from my gaze, she had lighted up the circlet that she wore
round her brow, so that it blazed as if it were a crown of stars. Not
only her face and her form, but the atmosphere around, were illumined by
the effulgence of the diadem.

\x93Now,\x94 said she, \x93put thine arm around me for the first and last time.
Nay, thus; courage, and cling firm.\x94

As she spoke her form dilated, the vast wings expanded. Clinging to her,
I was borne aloft through the terrible chasm. The starry light from her
forehead shot around and before us through the darkness. Brightly and
steadfastly, and swiftly as an angel may soar heavenward with the soul
it rescues from the grave, went the flight of the Gy, till I heard
in the distance the hum of human voices, the sounds of human toil. We
halted on the flooring of one of the galleries of the mine, and beyond,
in the vista, burned the dim, feeble lamps of the miners. Then I
released my hold. The Gy kissed me on my forehead, passionately, but as
with a mother\x92s passion, and said, as the tears gushed from her eyes,
\x93Farewell for ever. Thou wilt not let me go into thy world--thou canst
never return to mine. Ere our household shake off slumber, the rocks
will have again closed over the chasm not to be re-opened by me, nor
perhaps by others, for ages yet unguessed. Think of me sometimes, and
with kindness. When I reach the life that lies beyond this speck in
time, I shall look round for thee. Even there, the world consigned to
thyself and thy people may have rocks and gulfs which divide it from
that in which I rejoin those of my race that have gone before, and I may
be powerless to cleave way to regain thee as I have cloven way to lose.\x94

Her voice ceased. I heard the swan-like sough of her wings, and saw the
rays of her starry diadem receding far and farther through the gloom.

I sate myself down for some time, musing sorrowfully; then I rose and
took my way with slow footsteps towards the place in which I heard the
sounds of men. The miners I encountered were strange to me, of another
nation than my own. They turned to look at me with some surprise, but
finding that I could not answer their brief questions in their own
language, they returned to their work and suffered me to pass on
unmolested. In fine, I regained the mouth of the mine, little troubled
by other interrogatories;--save those of a friendly official to whom I
was known, and luckily he was too busy to talk much with me. I took care
not to return to my former lodging, but hastened that very day to quit
a neighbourhood where I could not long have escaped inquiries to which
I could have given no satisfactory answers. I regained in safety my own
country, in which I have been long peacefully settled, and engaged in
practical business, till I retired on a competent fortune, three years
ago. I have been little invited and little tempted to talk of the
rovings and adventures of my youth. Somewhat disappointed, as most men
are, in matters connected with household love and domestic life, I often
think of the young Gy as I sit alone at night, and wonder how I could
have rejected such a love, no matter what dangers attended it, or by
what conditions it was restricted. Only, the more I think of a people
calmly developing, in regions excluded from our sight and deemed
uninhabitable by our sages, powers surpassing our most disciplined modes
of force, and virtues to which our life, social and political, becomes
antagonistic in proportion as our civilisation advances,--the more
devoutly I pray that ages may yet elapse before there emerge into
sunlight our inevitable destroyers. Being, however, frankly told by
my physician that I am afflicted by a complaint which, though it gives
little pain and no perceptible notice of its encroachments, may at any
moment be fatal, I have thought it my duty to my fellow-men to place on
record these forewarnings of The Coming Race.





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