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The Glenn Negley Collection
of Utopian Literature
ACROSS THE ZODIAC.
BALT.ANTYNB, HANSON AND CO.
BDINBURGH AND LONDON
Across the Zodiac
Gbe Stoi^ of a Wrecfcefc IRecorfc
DECIPHERED, TRANSLATED AND EDITED
AUTHOR OF "THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE" ETC
Thoughts he sends to each planet,
Uranus, Venus, and Mars ;
Soars to the Centre to span it,
Numbers the infinite Stars."
Courthope's Paradise of Birds
TRUBNER & CO., LUDGATE HILL
[ All rights reserved]
CONTENTS OF VOL. II.
A prince's present ....
A COMPLETE ESTABLISHMENT .
LIFE, SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC .
PRIVATE AUDIENCES ....
PECULIAR INSTITUTIONS ....
• ■ 136
THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
Duke University Libraries
ACROSS THE ZODIAC.
An hour after sunrise next morning. Esmo, his son, and
our host accompanied us to the vessel in which we
were to make the principal part of our journey. "We
were received by an officer of the royal Court, who was
to accompany us during the rest of our journey, and
from whom, Esmo assured me, I might obtain the
fullest information regarding the various objects of
interest, to visit which we had adopted an unusual and
circuitous course. We embarked on a gulf running
generally from east to west, about midway between the
northern tropic and the arctic circle. As this was the
summer of the northern hemisphere, we should thus
enjoy a longer day, and should not suffer from the
change of climate. After taking leave of our friends,
we went down. below to take possession of the fore part
of the vessel, which was assigned as our exclusive
quarters. Immediately in front of the machine-room,
which occupied the centre of the vessel, were two
cabins, about sixteen feet square, reaching from side to
side. Beyond these, opening out of a passage running
VOL. II. A
2 Across tiie Zodiac.
along one si Jo, were two smaller cabins about eight feet
lung. All these apartments were furnished and orna-
mented with the luxury and elegance of chambers in
the best houses on shore. In the foremost of the larger
cabins were a couple of desks, and three or four writing
or easy chairs. In the outer cabin nearest to the
engine-room, and entered immediately by the ladder
descending from the deck, was fixed a low central
table. In all we found abundance of those soft ex-
quisitely covered and embroidered cushions which in
Mars, as in Oriental countries, are the most essential
and most luxurious furniture. The officer had quarters
in the stern of the vessel, which was an exact copy of
the fore part. But the first of these rooms was con-
sidered as public or neutral ground. Leaving Eveena
below, I went on deck to examine, before she started,
the construction of the vessel. Her entire length was
about one hundred and eighty feet, her depth, from the
flat deck to the wide keel, about one half of her breadth ;
the height of the cabins not much more than eight feet ;
her draught, when most completely lightened, not more
than four feet. Her electric machinery drew in and
drove out with great force currents of water which pro-
pelled her with a speed greater than that afforded by the
most powerful paddles. It also pumped in or out, at
whatever depth, the quantity of water required as
ballast, not merely to steady the vessel, but to keep her
in position on the surface or to sink her to the level
at which the pilot might choose to sail. At either end
was fixed a steering screw, much resembling the tail-fin
of a fish, capable of striking sideways, upwards, or down-
wards, and directing our course accordingly.
By Sea. 3
Ergimo, our escort, had not yet reached middle age,
but was a man of exceptional intellect and unusual
knowledge. He had made many voyages, and had
occupied for some time an important official post on one
of those Arctic continents which are inhabited only by
the hunters employed in collecting the furs and skins
furnished exclusively by these lands. The shores of
the gulf were lofty, rocky, and uninteresting. It was
difficult to see any object on shore from the deck of
the vessel, and I assented, therefore, without demur,
after the first hour of the voyage, to his proposal that
the lights, answering to our hatches, should be closed,
and that the vessel should pursue her course below the
surface. This was the more desirable that, though
winds and storms are, as I have said, rare, these long
and narrow seas with their lofty shores are exposed to
rough currents, atmospheric and marine, which render a
voyage on the surface no more agreeable than a passage
in average weather across the Bay of Biscay. After
descending I was occupied for some time in study-
ing, with Ergimo's assistance, the arrangement of the
machinery, and the simple process by which electric
force is generated in quantities adequate to any effort
at a marvellously small expenditure of material. In
this form the Martialists assert that they obtain without
waste all the potential energy stored in . . . [About half
a score lines, or two pages of an ordinary octavo volume
like this, are here illegible.] She (Eveena ?) was
somewhat pale, but rose quickly, and greeted me with
a smile of unaffected cheerfulness, and was evidently
surprised as well as pleased that I was content to
remain alone with her, our conversation turning chiefly
4 Across the Zodiac.
on the lessons of last night. Our time passed quickly
till, about the middle of the day, we were startled by
a shock which, as I thought, must be due to our having
run aground or struck against a rock. But when I
passed into the engine-room, Ergimo explained that the
pilot was nowise in fault. We had encountered one of
those inconveniences, hardly to be called perils, which
are peculiar to the waters of Mars. Though animals
hostile or dangerous to man have been almost extirpated
upon the land, creatures of a type long since supposed
to be extinct on Earth still haunt the depths of the
Martial seas ; and one of these — a real sea-serpent of
above a hundred feet in length and perhaps eight feet
in circumference — had attacked our vessel, entangling
the steering screw in his folds and trying to crush it,
checking, at the same time, by his tremendous force the
motion of the vessel.
•' We shall soon get rid of him, though," said Ergimo,
as I followed him to the stern, to watch with great
interest the method of dealing with the monster, whose
strange form was visible through a thick crystal pane
in the stern-plate. The asphyxiator could not have
been used without great risk to ourselves. But several
tubes, filled with a soft material resembling cork, ori-
ginally the pith of a Martial cane of great size, were
inserted in the floor, sides, and deck of the vessel, and
through the centre of each of these passed a strong
metallic wire of great conducting power. Two or
three of those in the stern were placed in contact with
some of the electric machinery by which the rudder
was usually turned, and through them were sent rapid
and energetic currents, whose passage rendered the
By Sea. 5
covering of the wires, notwithstanding their great
conductivity, too hot to he touched. We heard im-
mediately a smothered sound of extraordinary char-
acter, which was, in truth, no other than a scream
deadened partly by the water, partly by the thick
metal sheet interposed between us and the element.
The steering screw was set in rapid motion, and at
first revolving with some difficulty, afterwards moving
faster and more regularly, presently released us. Its
rotation was stopped, and we resumed our course.
The serpent had relaxed his folds, stunned by the
shock, but had not disentangled himself from the
screw, till its blades, no longer checked by the tre-
mendous force of his original grasp, striking him a
series of terrific blows, had broken the vertebra and
paralysed if not killed the monstrous enemy.
At each side of the larger chambers and of the engine-
room were fixed small thick circular windows, through
which we could see from time to time the more remark-
able objects in the water. We passed along one curious
submarine bank, built somewhat like our coral rocks,
not by insects, however, but by shellfish, which, fixing
themselves as soon as hatched on the shells below or
around them, extended slowly upward and sideways.
As each of these creatures perished, the shell, about
half the size of an oyster, was filled with the same
sort of material as that of which its hexagonic walls
were originally formed, drawn in by the surrounding
and still living neighbours ; and thus, in the course of
centuries, were constructed solid reefs of enormous
extent. One of these had run right across the gulf,
forming a complete bridge, ceasing, however, within
6 Across the Zodiac.
some five feet of the surface ; but on this a regular
roadway had been constructed by human art and
mechanical labour, while underneath, at the usual
depth of thirty feet, several tunnels had been pierced,
each large enough to admit the passage of a single
vessel of the largest size. At every fourth hour our
vessel rose to the surface to renew her atmosphere,
which was thus kept purer than that of an ordinary
Atlantic packet between decks, while the temperature
was maintained at an agreeable point by the warmth
diffused from the electric machinery.
On the sixth day of our voyage, w r e reached a point
where the Gulf of Serocasfe divides, a sharp jutting
cape or peninsula parting its waters. We took the
northern branch, about fifteen miles in width, and
here, rising to the surface and steering a zigzag course
from coast to coast, I was enabled to see something
of the character of this most extraordinary strait. Its
walls at first were no less than 2000 feet in height,
so that at all times we were in sight, so to speak, of
laud. A road had been cut along the sea-level, and
here and there tunnels ascending through the rock
rendered this accessible from the plateau above. The
strata, as upon Earth, were of various character, none
of them very thick, seldom reproducing exactly the
geology of our own planet, but seldom very widely
deviating in character from the rocks with which we
are acquainted. The lowest were evidently of the
same hard, fused, compressed character as those which
our terminology calls plutonic. Above these were
masses which, like the carboniferous strata of Earth,
recalled the previous existence of a richer but less
By Sea. 7
highly organised form of vegetation than at present
exists anywhere upon the surface. Intermixed with
these were beds of the peculiar submarine shell-rock
whose formation I have just described. Above these
again come strata of diluvial gravel, and about 400
feet below the surface rocks that bore evident traces
of a glacial period. As we approached the lower end
of the gulf the shores sloped constantly downward,
and where they were no more than 600 feet in height
I was able to distinguish an upper stratum of some
forty yards in depth, preserving through its whole
extent traces of human life and even of civilisation.
This implied, if fairly representative of the rest of the
planet's crust, an existence of man upon its surface
ten, twenty, or even a hundred-fold longer than he is
supposed to have enjoyed upon Earth. About noon
on the seventh day we entered the canal which con-
nects this arm of the gulf with the sea of the northern
temperate zone. It varies in height from 400 to 600
feet, in width from 100 to 300 yards, its channel never
exceeds 20 feet in depth. Ergimo explained that the
length had been thought to render a tunnel unsuitable,
as the ordinary method of ventilation could hardly
have been made to work, and to ventilate such a
tunnel through shafts sunk to so great a depth would
have been almost as costly as the method actually
adopted. A much smaller breadth might have been
thought to suffice, and was at first intended; but it
was found that the current in a narrow channel, the
outer sea being many inches higher than the water
of the gulf, would have been too rapid and violent for
safety. The work had occupied fifteen Martial years,
8 Across the Zodiac.
and had been opened only for some eight centuries.
TIk' water was not more than twenty feet in depth ; but
the channel was so perfectly scoured by the current
that no obstacle had ever arisen and no expense had
been incurred to keep it clear. We entered the Nor-
thern sea where a bay ran up some half dozen miles
towards the end of the gulf, shortening the canal by
this distance. The bay itself was shallow, the only
channel being scarcely wider than the canal, and
created or preserved by the current setting in to the
latter; a current which offered a very perceptible resist-
ance to our course, and satisfied me that had the canal
been no wider than the convenience of navigation
would have recpiired in the absence of such a stream,
its force would have rendered the w T ork altogether
useless. We crossed the sea, holding on in the same
direction, and a little before sunset moored our vessel
at the wharf of a small harbour, along the sides of
which was built the largest town of this subarctic land-
belt, a village of some fifty houses named Askinta.
( 9 )
EEGIMO landed to make arrangements for the chase, to
witness which was the principal object of this deviation
from what would otherwise have been our most con-
venient course. Not only would it be possible to take
part in the pursuit of the wild fauna of the continent,
but I also hoped to share in a novel sport, not unlike a
whale-hunt in Baffin's Bay. A large inland sea, occupy-
ing no inconsiderable part of the area of this belt, lay
immediately to the northward, and one wide arm thereof
extended within a few miles of Askinta, a distance which,
notwithstanding the interposition of a mountain range,
might be crossed in a couple of hours. One or two days
at most would suffice for both adventures. I had not
yet mentioned my intention to Eveena. During the
voyage I had been much alone with her, and it was
then only that our real acquaintance began. Till then,
however close our attachment, we were, in knowledge of
each other's character and thought, almost as strangers.
While her painful timidity had in some degree worn
off, her anxious and watchful deference was even more
marked than before. True to the strange ideas derived
chiefly from her training, partly from her own natural
VOL. II. b
i o Across the Zodiac.
character, she was the more careful to avoid giving ihe
slightest pain or displeasure, as she ceased to fear that
either would he immediately and intentionally visited
upon herself. She evidently thought that on this
account there was the greater danger lest a series of
trivial annoyances, unnoticed at the time, might cool
the affection she valued so highly. Diffident of her
own charms, she knew how little hold the women of
her race generally have on the hearts of men after the
first fever of passion has cooled. It was difficult for
her to realise that her thoughts or wishes could truly
interest me, that compliance with her inclinations could
be an object, or that I could be seriously bent on teach-
ing her to speak frankly and openly. But as this new
idea became credible and familiar, her unaffected desire
to comply with all that was expected from her drew out
her hitherto undeveloped powers of conversation, and
enabled me day by day to appreciate more thoroughly
the real intelligence and soundness of judgment con-
cealed at first by her shyness, and still somewhat
obscured by her childlike simplicity and absolute in-
experience. In the latter respect, however, she was, of
course, at the less disadvantage with a stranger to the
manners and life of her world. A more perfectly
charming companion it would have been difficult to
desire and impossible to find. If at first I had been
secretly inclined to reproach her with exaggerated
timidity, it became more and more evident that her
personal fears were due simply to that nervous sus-
ceptibility which even men of reputed courage have
often displayed in situations of sudden and wholly
unfamiliar peril. Her tendency to overrate all dangers,
Fur- Hunting. i r
not merely as they affected herself, but as they might
involve others, and. above all her husband, I ascribed
to the ideas and habits of thought now for so many
centuries hereditary among a people in whom the fear
of annihilation — and the absence of all the motives that
impel men on earth to face danger and death with
calmness, or even to enjoy the excitement of deadly
peril — have extinguished manhood itself.
I could not, however, conceal from Eveena that I was
about to leave her for an adventure which could not but
seem to her foolhardy and motiveless. She was more
than terrified when she understood that I really intended
to join the professional hunters in an enterprise which,
even on their part, is regarded by their countrymen with
a mixture of admiration and contempt, as one wherein
only the hope of large remuneration would induce any
sensible man to share ; and which, from my utter
ignorance of its conditions, must be obviously still
more dangerous to me. The confidence she was slowly
learning from what seemed to her extravagant indul-
gence, to me simply the consideration due to a rational
being, wife or comrade, slave or free, first found expres-
sion in the freedom of her loving though provoking
" You must be tired of me," she said at last, " if you
are so ready to run the risk of parting out of mere
" Sheer petulance ! " I answered. "You know well that
you are dearer to me every day as I learn to understand
you better ; but a man cannot afford to play the coward
because marriage has given new value to life. And you
might remember that I have threefold the strength which
1 2 Ac?'oss the Zodiac.
emboldens your hunters to incur all the dangers that
seem to your fancy so terrible."
That no shade of mere cowardice or feminine affecta-
tion influenced her remonstrance was evident from her
" Well, then, if you will go, however improper and
outrageous the thing may be, let me go with you. I
cannot bear to wait alone, fancying at every moment
what may be happening to you, and fearing to see them
carry you back wounded or killed."
Touched by the unselfishness of her terror, and feel-
ing that there was some truth in her representation of
the state of mind in which she would spend the hours
of my absence, I tried to quiet her by caresses and soft
words. But these she received as symptoms of yield-
ing on my part ; and her persistence brought upon her
at last the resolute and somewhat sharp rebuke with
which men think it natural and right to repress the
excesses of feminine fear.
" This is nonsense, Eveena. You cannot accompany
me ; and, if you could, your presence would multiply
tenfold the danger to me, and utterly unnerve me if
any real difficulty should call for presence of mind.
You must be content to leave me in the hands of Provi-
dence, and allow me to judge what becomes a man, and
what results are worth the risks they may involve. I
hear Ergiino's step on deck, and I must go and learn
from him what arrangements he has been able to make
My escort had found no difficulty in providing for
the fulfilment of both my wishes. We were to beat
the forests which covered the southern seabord in the
Fur-Hunting. 1 3
neighbourhood, driving our game out upon the open
ground, where alone we should have a chance of secur-
ing it. By noon we might hope to have seen enough
of this sport, and to find ourselves at no great distance
from that part of the inland sea where a yet more
exciting chase was to employ the rest of the day.
Failing to bring both adventures within the sixteen
hours of light which at this season and in this latitude
we should enjoy, we were to bivouac for the night on
the northern sea-coast and pursue our aquatic game in
the morning of the morrow, returning before dark to
Ergimo, however, was more of Eveena's mind than
of mine. " I have complied," he said, " with your wishes,
as the Camp t a ordered me to do. But T am equally
bound, by his orders and by my duty, to tell you that
in my opinion you are running risks altogether out of
proportion to any object our adventure can serve.
Scarcely any of the creatures we shall hunt are other
than very formidable. Even the theme, with the spikes
on its fore-limbs, can inflict painful if not dangerous
wounds, and its bite is said to be not unfrequently veno-
mous. You are not used to our methods of hunting, to
the management of the caldccta, or to the use of our
weapons. I can conceive no reason why you should
incur what is at any rate a considerable chance, not
merely of death, but of defeating the whole purpose
of your extraordinary journey, simply to do or to see
the work on which we peril only the least valuable
lives among us."
I was about to answer him even more decidedly than
I had replied to Eveena, when a pressure on my arm
1 4 Across the Zodiac.
drew my eyes in the other direction; and, to my extreme
mortification, I perceived that Eveena herself, in all-
absorbing eagerness to learn the opinion of an intelli-
gent and experienced hunter, had stolen on deck and
had heard all that had passed. I was too much vexed
to make any other reply to Ergimo's argument than
the single word, " I shall go." Beally angry with her
for the first and last time, but not choosing to express
my displeasure in the presence of a third person, I
hurried Eveena down the ladder into our cabin.
" Tell me," I said, " what, according to your own rules
of feminine reserve and obedience, you deserve ? Whal
would one of your people say to a wife who followed
him without leave into the company of a stranger, to
listen to that which she knew she was not meant to
hear ? "
She answered by throwing off her veil and head-dress,
and standing up silent before me.
"Answer me, child," I repeated, more than half
appeased by the mute appeal of her half-raised eyes
and submissive attitude. " I know you will not tell
me that you have not broken all the restraints of your
own laws and customs. What would your father, for
instance, say to such an escapade ? "
She was silent, till the touch of my hand, contradict-
ing perhaps the harshness of my words, encouraged her
to lift her eyes, full of tears, to mine.
" Nothing," was her very unexpected reply.
"Nothing?" I rejoined. "If you can tell me that
you have not done wrong, I shall be sorry to have
reproved you so sharply."
" I shall tell you no such lie ! " she answered
Fur-Hunting. 1 5
almost indignantly. " You asked what would be
I was fairly at a loss. The figure which Martial
grammarians call " the suppressed alternative " is a
great favourite, and derives peculiar force from the
varied emphasis their syntax allows. But, resolved
not to understand a meaning much more distinctly
conveyed in her words than in my translation, I replied,
"I shall say nothing then, except — don't do it again ; "
and I extricated myself promptly if ignominiously from
the dilemma, by leaving the cabin and closing the door,
so sharply and decidedly as to convey a distinct inti-
mation that it was not again to be opened.
We breakfasted earlier than usual. My gentle bride
had been subdued into a silence, not sullen, but so sad
that when her wistful eyes followed my every move-
ment as I prepared to start, I could willingly, to bring
back their brightness, have renounced the promise of
the day. But this must not be ; and turning to take
leave on the threshold, I said —
" Be sure I shall come to no harm ; and if I did, the
worst pang of death would be the memory of the first
sharp words I have spoken to you, and which, I confess,
were an ill return for the inconvenient expression of
your affectionate anxiety."
" Do not speak so," she half whispered. " I deserved
any mark of your displeasure ; I only wish I could per-
suade you that the sharpest sting lies in the lips we
love. Do remember, since you would not let me run
the slightest risk of harm, that if you come to hurt you
will have killed me."
" Best assured I shall come to no serious ill. I hope
1 6 Across the Zodiac.
this evening to laugh •with you at your alarms ; and so
long as you do not see me either in the flesh or in the
spirit, you may know that I am safe. I could nut leave
you for ever without meeting you again."
This speech, which I should have ventured in no
other presence, would hardly have established my
lunacy more decisively in Martial eyes than in those of
Terrestrial common sense. It conveyed, however, a
real if not sufficient consolation to Eveena ; the idea it
implied being not wholly unfamiliar to a daughter of
the Star. I was surprised that, almost shrinking from
my last embrace, Eveena suddenly dropped her veil
around her; till, turning, I saw that Ergimo was stand-
ing at the top of the ladder leading to the deck, and
just in sight.
" I will send word," he said, addressing himself to
me, but speaking for her ears, " of your safety at noon
and at night. So far as my utmost efforts can ensure it
you will be safe ; an obligation higher, and enforced by
sanctions graver, than even the Camptus command for-
bids me to lead a brother into peril, and fail to bring
him out of it."
The significant word was spoken in so low a tone
that it could not possibly reach the ears of our com-
panions of the chase, who had mustered on shore within
a few feet of the vessel. But Eveena evidently caught
both the sound and the meaning, and I was glad that
they should convey to her a confidence which seemed
to myself no better founded than her alarms. To me
its only value lay in the friendly relation it established
with one I had begun greatly to like. I relied on my
own strength and nerve for all that human exertion
Fur-Hunting. 1 7
could do in such peril as we might encounter ; and, in
a case in which these might fail me, I doubted whether
even the one tie that has binding force on Mars would
avail me much.
Immediately outside the town were waiting, saddled
but not bridled, some score of the extraordinary riding-
birds Eveena had described. The seat of the rider is
on the back, between the wings ; but the saddle consists
only of a sort of girth immediately in front, to which a
pair of stirrups, resembling that of a lady's side-saddle,
were attached. The creature that was to carry my un-
usual weight was the most powerful of all, but I felt
some doubt whether even his strength might not break
down. One of the hunters had charge of a carriage on
which was fixed a cage containing two dozen birds of a
dark greenish grey, about the size of a crow, and with
the slender form, piercing eyes, and powerful beak of
the falcon. They were not intended, however, to strike
the prey, but simply to do the part of dogs in tracing
out the game, and driving it from the woods into the
open ground. Our birds, rising at once into the air,
carried us some fifty feet above the tops of the trees.
Here the chief huntsman took the guidance of the party,
keeping in front of the line in which we were ranged,
and watching through a pair of what might be called
spectacles, save that a very short tube with double
lenses was substituted for the single glass, the move-
ment of the hawks, which had been released in the
wood below us. These at first dispersed in every direc-
tion, extending at intervals from end to end of a line
some three miles in length, and moving slowly forwards,
followed by the hunters. A sharp call from one bird
1 8 Across the Zodiac.
on the left gathered the rest around him, and in a few
moments the rustling and rushing of an invisible Hock
through the glades of the forest apprised us that we had
started, though we could not see, the prey. Ergimo, wh i
kept close beside me, and who had often witnessed the
sport before, kept me informed of what was proceeding
underneath us, of which I could see but little. Glimpses
here and there showed that we were pursuing a nume-
rous flock of large white-plumed or white-haired crea-
tures, standing at most some four feet in height; but
what they were, even whether birds or quadrupeds,
their movements left me in absolute uncertainty. Wor-
ried and frightened by the falcons, which, however,
never ventured to close upon them, they were gradually
driven in the direction intended by the huntsman to-
wards the open plain, which bordered the forest at a
distance of about six miles to the northward. In half-
an-hour after the " find," the leader of the flock broke
out of the wood two or three hundred yards ahead of
us, and was closely followed by his companions. I
then recognised in the objects of the chase the strange
thernee described by Eveena, whose long soft down fur-
nished the cloak she wore on our visit to the Astronaut.
Their general form, and especially the length and grace-
ful curve of the neck, led one instinctively to regard
them as birds ; but the foredimbs, drawn up as they
ran, but now and then outstretched with a sweep to
strike at a falcon that ventured imprudently near, had,
in the distance, much more resemblance to the arm of
;t baboon than to the limb of any other creature, and
bore no likeness whatever to the wing even of the bat.
The object of the hunters was not to strike these crea-
tures from a distance, but to run them down and cap-
ture them by sheer exhaustion. This the great wing-
power of the caldectaa enabled us to do, though by the
time we had driven the thernee to bay my own Pegasus
was fairly tired. The hunters, separating and spread-
ing out in the form of a semicircle, assisted the move-
ments of the hawks, driving the prey gradually into a
narrow defile among the hills bordering the plain to the
north-eastward, whose steep upward slope greatly hin-
dered and fatigued creatures whose natural habitat con-
sists of level plains or seabord forests. At last, under
a steep half-precipitous rock which defended them in
rear, and between clumps of trees which guarded either
flank — protected by botli overhead — the flock, at the
call of their leader, took up a position which displayed
an instinctive strategy, whereof an Indian or African
chief might have been proud. The caldectaa, however,
well knew the vast superiority of their own strength
and of their formidable beaks, and did not hesitate to
carry us close to but somewhat above the thernee, as
these stood ranged in line with extended fore-limbs and
snouts; the latter armed with teeth about an inch and
a half in length tapering singly to a sharp point, the
former with spikes stronger, longer, and sharper than
those of the porcupine ; but, as I satisfied myself by a
subsequent inspection, formed by rudimentary, or, more
properly speaking, transformed or degenerated quills.
The bite was easily avoided. It was not so easy to
keep out of reach of the powerful fore-limb while
endeavouring to strike a fatal blow at the neck with
the long rapier-like cutting weapons carried by the
hunters. My own shorter and sharp sword, to which I
20 Across the Zodiac.
had trusted, preferring a familiar weapon to one, how-
ever suitable, to which I was not accustomed, left me
no choice but to abandon the hope of active participa-
tion in the slaughter, or to venture dangerously near.
Choosing the latter alternative, I received from the arm
of the thernee I had singled out a blow which, caught
upon my sword, very nearly smote it from my hand,
and certainly would have disarmed at once any of my
weaker companions. As it was, the stroke maimed the
limb that delivered it ; but with its remaining arm the
creature maintained a light so stubborn that, had both
been available, the issue could not have been in my
favour. This conflict reminded me singularly of an
encounter with the mounted swordsmen of Scindiah
and the Teishwah ; all my experience of sword-play
being called into use, and my brute opponent using its
natural weapon with an instinctive skill not unworthy
of comparison with that of a trained horse-soldier ; at
the same time that it constantly endeavoured to seize
with its formidable snout either my own arm or the
wing or body of the caldecta, which, however, was very
well able to take care of itself. In fact, the prey was
secured at last not by my sword but by a blow from
the caldecta's beak, which pierced and paralysed the
slender neck of our antagonist. Some twenty thernee
formed the booty of a chase certainly novel, and pos-
sessing perhaps as many elements of peril and excite-
ment as that finest of Earthly sports which the affected
cynicism of Anglo-Indian speech degrades by the name
of " pig-sticking."
When the falcons had been collected and recaged,
and the bodies of the thernee consigned to a carriage
Fit r-Hu 11 ting . 2 1
brought up for the purpose by a subordinate who had
watched the hunters' course, our birds, from which we
had dismounted, were somewhat rested ; and Ergimo
informed me that another and more formidable, as
well as more valuable, prey was thought to be in sight
a few miles off. Mounted on a fresh bird, and reso-
lutely closing my ears to his urgent and reasonable
dissuasion, I joined the smaller party which was
detached for this purpose. As we were carried slowly
at no great distance from the ground, managing our
birds with ease by a touch on either side of the neck —
they are spurred at need by a slight electric shock
communicated from the hilt of the sword, and are
checked by a forcible pressure on the wings — I asked
Ergimo why the thernee were not rather shot than
hunted, since utility, not sport, governs the method of
capturing the wild beasts of Mars.
" ^Ye have," he replied, " two weapons adapted to
strike at a distance. The asphyxiator is too heavy to
be carried far or fast, and pieces of the shell inflict
such injuries upon everything in the immediate neigh-
bourhood of the explosion, as to render it useless where
the value of the prey depends upon the condition of its
skin. Our other and much more convenient, if less
powerful, projective weapon has also its own disad-
vantage. It can be used only at short distances ; and
at these it is apt to burn and tear a skin so soft and
delicate as that of the thernee. Moreover, it so terrifies
the caldecta as to render it unmanageable ; and we are
compelled to dismount before using it, as you may
presently see. Four or five of our party are now
22 Across tlie Zodiac.
armed with it, and I wish you had allowed me to
furnish 3-011 with one."
" I prefer," I answered, " my own weapon, an air-gun
which I can fire sixteen times without reloading, and
which will kill at a hundred yards' distance. With a
weapon unknown to me I might not only fail altogether,
but I might not improbably do serious injury, by my
clumsiness and inexperience, to my companions."
" I wish, nevertheless," he said, " that you carried
the mordyta. You will have need of an efficient
weapon if you dismount to share the attack we are
just about to make. But I entreat you not to do so.
You can see it all in perfect safety, if only you will
keep far enough away to avoid danger from the fright
of your bird."
xVs he spoke, we had come into proximity to our
new game, a large and very powerful animal, about
four feet high at the shoulders, and about six feet
from the head to the root of the tail. The latter
carries, as that of the lion was fabled to do, a final
claw, not to lash the creature into rage, but for the
more practical purpose of striking down an enemy
endeavouring to approach it in flank or rear. Its hide,
covered with a long beautifully soft fur, is striped
alternately with brown and yellow, the ground being
a sort of silver-grey. The head resembles that of the
lion, but without the mane, and is prolonged into a face
and snout more like those of the wild boar. Its limbs
are less unlike those of the feline genus than any other
Earthly type, but have three claws and a hard pad in
lieu of the soft cushion. The upper jaw is armed
with two formidable tusks about twelve inches in
Fur- Hunting. 23
length, and projecting directly forwards. A blow
from the claw-furnished tail would plough up the
thigh or rip open the abdomen of a man. A stroke
from one of the paws would fracture his skull, while
a wound from the tusk in almost any part of the body
must prove certainly fatal. Fortunately, the Tcargynda
has not the swiftness of movement belonging to
nearly all our feline races, otherwise its skins, the
most valuable prize of the Martial hunter, would
yearly be taken at a terrible cost of life. Two of
these creatures were said to be reposing in a thick
jungle of reeds bordering a narrow stream immediately
in our front. The hunters, with Ergimo, now dis-
mounted and advanced some two hundred yards in front
of their birds, directing the latter to turn their heads in
the opposite direction. I found some difficulty in making
my wish to descend intelligible to the docile creature
which carried me, and was still in the air when one of
the enormous creatures we were hunting rushed out of
its hiding-place. The nearest hunter, raising a shining
metal staff about three and a half feet in length (having
a crystal cylinder at the hinder end, about six inches in
circumference, and occupying about one-third the entire
length of the weapon), levelled it at the beast. A flash
as of lightning darted through the air, and the creature
rolled over. Another flash from a similar weapon in the
hands of another hunter followed. By this time, how-
ever, my bird was entirely unmanageable, and what
happened I learned afterwards from Ergimo. Neither
of the two shots had wounded the creature, though the
near passage of the first had for a moment stunned and
overthrown him. His rush among the party dispersed
24 Across tJie Zodiac.
them all, but each being able to send forth from his
piece a second flash of lightning, the monster was
mortally wounded before they fairly started in pursuit
of their scared birds, which — their attention being called
by the roar of the animal, by the crash accompanying
each flash, and probably above all by the restlessness of
my own caldecta in their midst — had flown off to some
distance. My bird, floundering forwards, flung me to
the ground about two hundred yards from the jungle,
fortunately at a greater distance from the dying but not
yet utterly disabled prey. Its companion now came
forth and stood over the tortured creature, licking its
sores till it expired. By this time I had recovered the
consciousness I had lost with the shock of my fall, and
had ascertained that my gun was safe. I had but time
to prepare and level it when, leaving its dead com-
panion, the brute turned and charged me almost as
rapidly as an infuriated elephant. I fired several times,
and assured, if only from my skill as a marksman, that
some of the shots had hit it, was surprised to see that
at each it was only checked for a moment and then
resumed its charge. It was so near now that I could
aim with some confidence at the eye ; and if, as I sus-
pected, the previous shots had failed to pierce the hide,
no other aim was likely to avail. I levelled, therefore,
as steadily as I could at its blazing eyeballs and fired
three or four shots, still without doing more than arrest
or rather slacken its charge, each shot provoking a
fearful roar of rage and pain. I fired my last within
about twenty yards, and then, before I could draw my
sword, was dashed to the ground with a violence that
utterly stunned me. When I recovered my senses,
Fur- Hunting. 25
Ergimo was kneeling beside me pouring down my
throat the contents of a small phial ; and as I lifted my
head and looked around, I saw the enormous carcass
from under which I had been dragged lying dead
almost within reach of my hand. One eye was pierced
through the very centre, the other seriously injured.
But such is the creature's tenacity of life, that, though
three balls were actually in its brain, it had driven
home its charge, though far too unconscious to make
more than convulsive and feeble use of any of its for-
midable weapons. "When I fell it stood for perhaps
a second, and then dropped senseless upon my lower
limbs, which were not a little bruised by its weight.
That no bone was broken or dislocated by the shock,
deadened though it must have been by the repeated
pauses in the kargynda's charge and by its final
exhaustion, was more than I expected or could under-
stand. Before I rose to my feet, Ergimo had per-
emptorily insisted on the abandonment of the further
excursion we had intended, declaring that he could not
answer to his Sovereign, after so severe a lesson, for my
exposure to any future peril. The Campta had sent
him to bring me into his presence for purposes which
would not be fulfilled by producing a lifeless carcass,
or a maimed and helpless invalid ; and the discipline of
the Court and central Administration allowed no excuse
for disobedience to orders or failure in duty. My protest
was very quickly silenced. On attempting to stand, I
found ruyself so shaken, torn, and shattered that I could
not again mount a caldccta or wield a weapon ; and was
carried back to Askinta on a sort of inclined litter placed
upon the carriage which had conveyed our booty.
vol. 11. c
26 Across the Zodiac.
I was mortified, aa we approached the place where
our vessel lay, to observe a veiled female figure ou the
deck. Eveena's quick eye had noted our return some
minutes before, and inferred from the early abandonment
of the chase some serious accident. Happily our party
were so disposed that I had time to assume the usual
position before she caught sight of me. I could not,
however, deceive her by a desperate effort to walk
steadily and unaided. She stood by quietly and calmly
while the surgeon of the hunters dressed my hurts,
observing exactly how the bandages and lotions were
applied. Only when we were left alone did she in any
degree give way to an agitation by which she feared to
increase my evident pain and feverishness. It was im-
possible to satisfy her that black bruises and broad
gashes meant no danger, and would be healed by a few
days' rest. But when she saw that I could talk and
smile as usual, she was unsparing in her attempts to
coax from me a pledge that I would never again peril
life or limb to gratify my curiosity regarding the very
few pursuits in which, for the highest remuneration,
Martialists can be induced to incur the probability of
injury and the chance of that death they so abjectly
dread. Scarcely less reluctant to repeat the scolding
she felt so acutely than to employ the methods of rebuke
she deemed less severe, I had no little difficulty in evad-
ing her entreaties. Only a very decided request to drop
the subject at once and for ever, enforced on her con-
science by reminding her that it would be enforced no
otherwise, at last obtained me peace without the sacrifice
( ^7 )
We were now in Martial N. latitude 57 , in a compara-
tively open part of the narrow sea which encloses the
northern land-belt, and to the south-eastward lay the
only channel by which this sea communicates with the
main ocean of the southern hemisphere. Along this we
took our course. Bather against Ergimo's advice, I
insisted on remaining on the surface, as the sea was
tolerably calm. Eveena, with her usual self-suppression,
professed to prefer the free air, the light of the long day,
and such amusement as the sight of an occasional sea-
monster or shoal of fishes afforded, to the fainter light
and comparative monotony of submarine travelling.
Ergimo, who had in his time commanded the hunters
of the Arctic Sea, was almost as completely exempt as
myself from sea-sickness ; but I was surprised to find
that the crew disliked, and, had they ventured, would
have grumbled at, the change, being so little accustomed
to any long superficial voyage as to suffer like landsmen
from rough weather. The difference between sailing on
and below the surface is so great, both in comfort and in
the kind of skill and knowledge required, that the sea-
men of passenger and of mercantile vessels are classes
much more distinct than those of the mercantile and
28 A cross the Zodiac.
national marine of England, or any other maritime Power
on Earth. I consented readily that, except on the rare
occasions when the heavens were visible, the short night,
from the fall of the evening to the dissipation of the
morning mists, should be passed under water. I have
said that gales are comparatively rare and the tides
insignificant ; but the narrow and exceedingly long
channels of the Martial seas, with the influence of a
Solar movement from north to south more extensive
though slower than that which takes place between our
Winter and Summer Solstices, produce currents, atmos-
pheric and oceanic, and sudden squalls that often give
rise to that worst of all disturbances of the surface,
known as a " chopping sea." When we crossed the
tropic and came fairly into the channel separating the
western coast of the continent on which the Astronaut had
landed from the eastern seabord of that upon whose
southern coast I was presently to disembark, this dis-
turbance was even worse than, except on peculiarly
disagreeable occasions, in the Straits of Dover. After
enduring tins for two or three hours, I observed that
Eveena had stolen from her seat beside me on the deck.
Since we left Askinta her spirits had been unusually
variable. She had been sometimes lively and almost
excitable ; more generally quiet, depressed, and silent
even beyond her wont. Still, her manner and bearing
were always so equable, gentle, and docile that, accus-
tomed to the caprices of the sex on Eart h, I had hardly
noticed the change. I thought, however, that she was
to-day nervous and somewhat pale ; and as she did not
return, after permitting the pilot to seek a calmer
stratum at some five fathoms depth, I followed Eveena
Troubled Waters. 29
into our cabin or chamber. Standing with her back to
the entrance and with a goblet to her lips, she did not
hear me till I had approached within arm's length.
She then started violently, so agitated that the colour
faded at once from her countenance, leaving it white as
in a swoon, then as suddenly returning, flushed her neck
and face, from the emerald shoulder clasps to the silver
snood, with a pink deeper than that of her robe.
" I am very sorry I startled you," I said. " You are
certainly ill, or you would not be so easily upset."
I laid my hand as I spoke on her soft tresses, but she
withdrew from the touch, sinking down among the
cushions. Leaving her to recover her composure, I
took up the half-empty cup she had dropped on the
central table. Thirsty myself, I had almost drained
without tasting it, when a little half-stifled cry of dis-
may checked me. The moment I removed the cup from
my mouth I perceived its flavour — the unmistakable
taste of the dravadoiU (" courage cup "), so disagreeable
to us both, which we had shared on our bridal evening.
"Wetting with one drop the test-stone attached to my
watch-chain, it presented the local discoloration indicat-
ing the narcotic poison which is the chief ingredient of
"I don't think this is wise, child," I said, turning
once more to Eveena. To my amazement, far from
having recovered the effect of her surprise, she was yet
more overcome than at first; crouching among the
cushions with her head bent down over her knees, and
covering her face with her hands. Reclining in the
soft pile, I held her in my arms, overcoming perforce
what seemed hysterical reluctance ; but when I would
30 - Icross the Zodiac.
have withdrawn the little hands, she threw herself on
my knee, burying her face in the cushions.
" It is very wicked," she sobbed; "I cannot ask you
to forgive me."
" Forgive what, ray child ? Eveena, you are certainly
ill. Calm yourself, and don't try to talk just now."
" I am not ill, I assure you," she faltered, resisting
the ana that sought to raise her; " but . . ."
In my hands, however, she was powerless as an
infant; and I would hear nothing till I held her
gathered within my arm and her two hands fast in my
ri'dit. Now that I could look into the face she strove
to avert, it was clear that she was neither hysterical
nor simply ill ; her agitation, however unreasonable and
extravagant, was real.
" What troubles you, my own ? I promise you not
to say one word of reproach ; I only want to understand
with what you so bitterly reproach yourself."
" But you cannot help being angry," she urged,
" if you understand what I have done. It is the
chanty, which I never tasted till that night, and never
ought to have tasted again. I know you cannot forgive
me ; only take my fault for granted, and don't question
These incoherent words threw the first glimpse of
light on the meaning of her distress and penitence. I
doubt if the best woman in Christendom would so
reproach and abase herself, if convicted of even a worse
sin than the secret use of those stimulants for which
the charny is a Martial equivalent. No Martialist
would dream of poisoning his blood and besotting his
brain with alcohol in any form. But their opiates
Troubled Waters. 31
affect a race addicted to physical repose, to sensuous
enjoyment rather than to sensual excitement, and to
lucid intellectual contemplation, with a sense of serene
delight as supremely delicious to their temperament as
the dreamy illusions of haschisch to the Turk, the fierce
frenzy of bhang to the Malay, or the wild excitement
of brandy or Geneva to the races of Northern Europe.
But as with the luxury of intoxication in Europe, so in
Mars indulgence in these drugs, freely permitted to the
one sex, is strictly forbidden by opinion and domestic
rule to the other. A lady discovered in the use of
charny is as deeply disgraced as an European matron
detected in the secret enjoyment of spirits and cigars ;
and her lord and master takes care to render her suffi-
ciently conscious of her fault.
And there was something stranger here than a violation
of the artificial restraint of sex. Slightly and seldom as
the Golden Circle touches the lines defining personal or
social morality — carefully as the Founder has abstained
from imposing an ethical code of his own, or attaching
to his precepts any rule not directly derived from the
fundamental tenets or necessary to the cohesion of the
Order — he had expressed in strong terms Iris dread and
horror of narcotism ; the use for pleasure's sake, not to
relieve pain or nervous excitement, of drugs which act,
as he said, through the brain upon the soul. His judg-
ment, expressed with unusual directness and severity
and enforced by experience, has become with his fol-
lowers a tradition not less imperative than the most
binding of their laws. It was so held, above all, in that
household in which Eveena and I had first learnt the
" lore of the Starlight." Esmo, indeed, regarded not
3 2 Across the Zodiac.
merely as an unscientific superstition, but as blas-
phemous folly, the rejection of any means of restoring
health or relieving pain which Providence has placed
within human reach. But he abhorred the use for
pleasure's sake of poisons affirmed to reduce the activity
and in the long-run to impair the energies of the mind,
and weaken the moral sense and the will, more in-
tensely than the strictest follower of the Arabian
Prophet abhors the draughts which deprive man of the
full use of the senses, intelligence, and conscience which
Allah has bestowed, and degrade him below the brute.
Esmo's children, moreover, were not more strictly com-
pelled to respect the letter than carefully instructed in
the principle of every command for which he claimed
But in such measure as Eveena's distress became
intelligible, the fault of which she accused herself
became incredible. I could not believe that she could
be wilfully disloyal to me — still less that she could have
suddenly broken through the fixed ideas of her whole
life, the principles engraved on her mind by education
more stringently than the maxims of the Koran or the
Levitical Law on the children of Ishmael or of Israel ;
and this while the impressive rites of Initiation, the
imprecation at which I myself had shuddered, were
fresh in her memory — their impression infinitely deep-
ened, moreover, by the awful mystery of that Vision of
which even yet we were half afraid to speak to one
another. While I hesitated to reply, gathering up as
well as I could the thread of these thoughts as they
passed in a few seconds through my mind, my left
hand touched an object hidden in my bride's zone. I
Troitbled Waters. $3
drew out a tiny crystal phial three parts full, taken, as
I saw, from the medicine-chest Esmo had i carefully
stocked and as carefully fastened. As, holding this, I
turned again to her, Eveena repeated : " Punish, but
don't question me ! "
" My own," I said, " you are far more punished
already than you deserve or I can bear to see. How
did you get this ? "
Releasing her hands, she drew from the folds of her
robe the electric keys, which, by a separate combination,
would unlock each of my cases ; — without which it
was impossible to open or force them.
" Yes, I remember ; and you were surprised that I
trusted them to you. And now you expect me to
believe that you have abused that trust, deceived me,
broken a rule which in your father's house and by all
our Order is held sacred as the rings of the Signet, for
a drug which twelve days ago you disliked as much
as I ? "
" It is true."
The words were spoken with downcast eyes, in the
low faltering tone natural to a confession of disgrace.
" It is not true, Eveena ; or if true in form, false in
matter. If it were possible that you could wish to
deceive me, you knew it could not be for long."
" I meant to be found out," she interrupted, " only
She had betrayed herself, stung by words that seemed
to express the one doubt she could not nerve herself to
endure — doubt of her loyalty to me. Before I could
speak, she looked up hastily, and began to retract. I
34 Across the Zodiac.
" I see — when you had done with it. But, Eveena,
why conceal it \ J >0 you think I would not have given
this or all the contents of the chest into your hands,
and asked no question? "
" Do you mean it ? Could you have so trusted
" My child ! is it difficult to trust where I know
there is no temptation to wrong ? Do you think that
to-day I h;ive doubted or suspected you. even while
you have accused yourself ? I cannot guess at your
motive, but I am as sure as ever of your loyalty. Take
these things," — forcing back upon her the phial and
the magnets, — " yes, and the test-stone." . . . She burst
into passionate tears.
" I cannot endure this. If I had dreamed your
patience would have borne with me half so far, I would
never have tried it so, even for your own sake. I meant
to be found out and accept the consequences in silence.
But you trust me so, that I must tell you what I wanted
to conceal. AVhen you kept on the surface it made me
so ill "
" But, Eveena, if the remedy be not worse than the
sickness, why not ask for it openly ? "
" It was not that. Don't you understand ? Of course,
I would bear any suffering rather than have done this ;
hut then you would have found me out at once. I
wnii ted to conceal my suffering, not to escape it."
" My child ! my child ! how could you put us both to
all this pain ? "
" You know you would not have given me the draught ;
you would have left the surface at once; and I cannot
bear to be always in the way, always hindering your
pleasures, and even your discoveries. You came across
a distance that makes a bigger world than this look
less than that light, through solitude and dangers and
horrors I cannot hear to think of, to see and examine
this world of ours. And then you leave things unseen
or half-seen, you spoil your work, because a girl is sea-
sick ! You ran great risk of death and got badly hurt to
see what our hunting was like, and you will not let my
head ache that you may find out what our sea-storms and
currents are ! How can I bear to be such a burden upon
you ? You trust me, and, I believe," (she added, colour-
ing), "you love me, twelvefold more than I deserve;
yet you think me unwilling or unworthy to take ever
so small an interest in your work, to bear a few hours'
discomfort for it and for you. And yet," she went on
passionately, " I may sit trembling and heart-sick for a
whole day alone that you may carry out your purpose.
I may receive the only real sting your lips have given,
because I could not bear that pain without crying.
And so with everything. It is not that I must not
suffer pain, but that the pain must not come from with-
out. Your lips would punish a fault with words that
shame and sting for a day, a summer, a year ; your hand
must never inflict a sting that may smart for ten
minutes. And it is not only that you do this, but you
pride yourself on it. Why ? It is not that you think
the pain of the body so much worse than that of the
spirit : — you that smiled at me when you were too
badly bruised and torn to stand, yet could scarcely keep
back your tears just now, when you thought that I had
suffered half an hour of sorrow I did not quite deserve.
AVhy then ? Do you think that women feel so diffe-
2,6 Across the Zodiac.
rently ? Have the women of your Earth hearts so much
harder and skins so much softer than ours ? "
She spoke with most unusual impetuosity, and with
that absolute simplicity and sincerity which marked her
every look and word, which gave them, for me at least,
an unspeakable charm, and for all who heard her a
characteristic individuality unlike the speech or manner
of any other woman. As soon suspect an infant of
elaborate sarcasm as Eveena of affectation, irony, or
conscious paradox. Nay, while her voice was in my
ears, I never could feel that her views were paradoxical.
The direct straightforwardness and simple structure of
the Martial language enhanced this peculiar effect of
her speech; and much that seems infantine in trans-
lation was all but eloquent as she spoke it. Often, as
on this occasion, I felt guilty of insincerity, of a verbal
fencing unworthy of her unalloyed good faith and
earnestness, as I endeavoured to parry thrusts that went
to the very heart of all those instinctive doctrines which
I could the less defend on the moment, because I had
never before dreamed that they could be doubted.
" At any rate," I said at last, " your sex gain by my
heresy, since they are as richly gifted in stinging words
as we in physical force."
" So much the worse for them, surely," she answered
simply, " if it be right that men should rule and women
obey ? "
" That is the received doctrine on Earth," I answered.
" In practice, men command and women disobey them ;
men bully and women lie. But in truth, Eveena,
having a wife only too loyal and too loving, I don't
care to canvass the deserts of ordinary women or the
Troubled Waters. -\>1
discipline of other households. I own that it was wrong
to scold you. Do not insist on making me say that it
would have been a little less wrong to heat you ! "
She laughed — her low, sweet, silvery laugh, the like
of which I have hardly heard among Earthly women,
even of the simpler, more child-like races of the East
and South; a laugh still stranger in a world where
childhood is seldom bright and womanhood mostly
sad and fretful. Of the very few satisfactory memories
I bore away from that world, the sweetest is the recol-
lection of that laugh, which I heard for the first time
on the morrow of our bridals, and for the last time on
the day before we parted. I cherish it as evidence that,
despite many and bitter troubles, my bride's short mar-
ried life was not wholly unhappy. By this time she
had found out that we had left the surface, and be^an
" Nay, I have seen all I care to see, my own. I con-
fess the justice of your claim, as the partner of my life,
to be the partner of its paramount purpose. You are
more precious to me than all the discoveries of which I
ever dreamed, and I will not for any purpose whatsoever
expose you to real peril or serious pain. But hence-
forth I will ask you to bear discomfort and inconveni-
ence when the object is worth it, and to help me wherever
your help can avail."
" I can help you?"
" Much., and in many ways, my Eveena. You will
soon learn to understand what I wish to examine and
the use of the instruments I employ ; and then you will
be the most useful of assistants, as you are the best and
most welcome of companions."
38 Across the Zodiac.
As I spoke a soft colour suffused her face, and her
eyes brightened with a joy and contentment such as no
promise of pleasure or indulgence could have inspired.
To be the partner of adventure and hardship, the drudge
in toil and sentinel in peril, was the boon she claimed,
the best guerdon I could promise. If but the promise
might have been better fulfilled !
It was not till in latitude 9° S. we emerged into the
open ocean, and presently found ourselves free from the
currents of the narrow waters, that, in order to see the
remarkable island of which I had caught sight in my
descent, I requested Ergimo to remain for some hours
above the surface. The island rises directly out of the
sea, and is absolutely unascendible. Balloons, however,
render access possible, both to its summit and to its cave-
pierced sides. It is the home of enormous flocks of
white birds, which resemble in form the heron rather
than the eider duck, but which, like the latter, line with
down drawn from their own breasts the nests which,
counted by millions, occupy every nook and cranny of
the crystalline walls, about ten miles in circumference.
Each of the nests is nearly as large as that of the stork.
They are made of a jelly digested from the bones of the
iish upon which the birds prey, and are almost as white
in colour as the birds themselves. Ereshly formed nest
dissolved in hot water makes dishes as much to the
taste of Martialists as the famous bird-nest soup to that
of the Chinese. Both down and nests, therefore, are
largely plundered; but the birds are never injured, and
care is taken in robbing them to leave enough of the
outer portion of the nest to constitute a bed for the eggs,
and encourage the creatures to rebuild and reline it.
Troubled Waters. 39
One harvest only is permitted, the second stripping of
feathers and the rebuilt nest being left undisturbed.
The caverns are lined with a white guano, now some
feet thick, since it has ceased to be sought for manure ;
the Martialists having discovered means of saturating
the soil with ammonia procured from the nitrogen of
the atmosphere, which with the sewage and other similar
materials enables them to dispense with this valuable
bird manure. Whether the white colour of the island,
perceptible even in a large Terrestrial telescope, is in
any degree due to the whiteness of the birds, their nests,
and leavings, or wholly to reflection from the bright
spar-like surface of the rock itself, and especially of the
flat table-like summit, I will not pretend to say.
From this point we held our course south-westward,
and entered the northernmost of two extraordinary gulfs
of exactly similar shape, separated by an isthmus and
peninsula which assume on a map the form of a gigantic
hammer. The strait by which each gulf is entered is
about a hundred miles in length and ten in breadth.
The gulf itself, if it should not rather be called an inland
sea, occupies a total area of about 100,000 square miles.
The isthmus, 500 miles in length by 50 in breadth, ends
in a roughly square peninsula of about 10,000 square
miles in extent, nearly the whole of which is a plateau
2000 feet above the sea-level. On the narrowest point of
the isthmus, just where it joins the mainland, and where
a sheltered bay runs up from either sea, is situated the
great city of Amakasfe, the natural centre of Martial
life and commerce. At this point we found awaiting us
the balloon which was to convey us to the Court of the
Suzerain. A very light but strong metallic framework
40 Across the Zodiac.
maintained the form of the "fish-shaped" or spindle-
shaped balloon itself, which closely resembled that of
our vessel, its dimensions being of necessity greater.
Attached to this framework was the car of similar form,
about twelve feet in length and six in depth, the upper
third of the sides, however, being of open-work, so as
not to interfere with the survey of the traveller. Eveena
could not help shivering at the sight of the slight vehicle
and the enormous machine of thin, bladder-like material
by which it was to be upheld. She embarked, indeed,
without a word, her alarm betraying itself by no volun-
tary sign, unless it were the tight clasp of my hand,
resembling that of a child frightened, but ashamed to
confess its fear. I noticed, however, that she so arranged
her veil as to cover her eyes w T hen the signal for the
start was given. She was, therefore, wholly unconscious
of the sudden spring, unattended by the slightest jolt
or shake, which raised us at once 500 feet above the
coast, and under whose influence, to my eyes, the
ground appeared suddenly to fall from us. When I
drew out the folds of her veil, it was with no little
amazement that she saw the sky around her, the sea
and the city far below. An aerial current to the north-
westward at our present level, which had been selected
on that account, carried us at a rate of some twelve
miles an hour ; a rate much increased, however, by the
sails at the stern of the car, sails of thin metal fixed on
strong frames, and striking with a screw r -like motion.
Their lack of expanse was compensated by a rapidity
of motion such that they seemed to the eye not to move
at all, presenting the appearance of an uniform disc
reflecting the rays of the Sun, which was now almost
Troubled Waters. 41
immediately above us. Towards evening the Eesidence
of the Campta became visible on the north-western
horizon. It was built on a plateau about 400 feet above
the sea-level, towards which the ground from all sides
sloped up almost imperceptibly. Around it was a garden
of great extent with a number of trees of every sort,
some of them masses of the darkest green, others of
bright yellow, contrasting similarly shaped masses of
almost equal size clothed from base to top in a con-
tinuous sheet of pink, emerald, white or crimson flowers.
The turf presented almost as great a variety of colours,
arranged in every conceivable pattern, above which rose
innumerable flower-beds, uniform or varied, the smallest
perhaps two, the largest more than 200 feet in diameter ;
each circle of bloom higher than that outside it, till in
some cases the centre rose even ten feet above the
general level. 1 The building itself was low, having no-
where more than two stories. One wing, pointed out
to me by Ergimo, was appropriated to the household of
the Prince ; the centre standing out in front and rear,
divided by a court almost as wide as the wings ; the
further wing accommodating the attendants and officials
of the Court. "We landed, just before the evening mist
began to gather, at the foot of an inclined way of a
concrete resembling jasper, leading up to the main
entrance of the Palace.
( 4? )
PRESENTED AT COURT.
Leading Eveena by the hand — for to hold my arm
after the European fashion was always an inconveni-
ence and fatigue to her — and preceded by Ergimo, I
walked unnoticed to the closed gate of pink crystal,
contrasting the emerald green of the outer walls.
Along the front of this central portion of the residence
was a species of verandah, supported by pillars overlaid
with a bright red metal, and wrought in the form of
smooth tree trunks closely clasped by creepers, the
silver flowers of the latter contrasting the dense golden
foliage and ruby-like stems. Under this, and in front
of the gate itself, were two sentries armed with a spear,
the shaft of which was about six feet in length, hollow,
and almost as light as the cane or reed handle of an
African assegai. The blade more resembled the trian-
gular bayonet. Beside each, however, was the terrible
asphyxiator, fixed on its stand, with a bore about as
great as that of a nine-pounder, but incomparably
lighter. These two weapons might at one discharge
have annihilated a huge mob of insurgents threatening
to storm the palace, were insurrections known in Mars.
These men saluted us by dropping the points of their
weapons and inclining the handle towards us ; gazing
Presented at Court. 43
upon me with surprise, and with something of soldierly
admiration for physical superiority. The doors, wide
enough to admit a dozen Martialists abreast, parted,
and we entered a vaulted hall whose arched roof was
supported not by pillars but by gigantic statues, each
presenting the lustre of a different jewel, and all
wrought with singular perfection of proportion and of
beauty. Here we were met by two officers wearing the
same dress as the sentries outside — a diaper of crimson
and silver. The rank of those who now received us,
however, was indicated by a silver ribbon passing over
the left shoulder, and supporting what I should have
called a staff, save that it was of metal and had a sharp
point, rendering it almost as formidable a weapon as
the rapier. Exchanging a word or two with Ergimo,
these gentlemen ushered us into a small room on the
right, where refreshments were placed before us.
Eveena whispered me that she must not share our meal
in presence of these strangers ; an intimation which
somewhat blunted the keen appetite I always derived
from a journey through the Martial atmosphere.
Checked as it was, however, that appetite seemed a
new astonishment to our attendants ; the need of food
among their race being proportionate to their inferior
size and strength. "When we rose, I asked Ergimo what
was to become of Eveena, as the officers were evidently
waiting to conduct me into the presence of their Sove-
reign, where it would not be appropriate for her to
appear. He repeated my question to the principal
official, and the latter, walking to a door in the farther
corner of the room, sounded an electric signal ; a few
seconds after which the door opened, showing two
44 Across the Zodiac.
veiled figures, the pink ground of whose robes indicated
their matronhood, if I may apply such a term to the
relation of his hundred temporary wives to the Camptu,.
But this Ground colour was almost hidden in the em-
broidery of crimson, gold, and white, which, as I soon
found, were the favourite colours of the reigning Prince.
To these ladies I resigned Eveena, the officer saying,
as I somewhat reluctantly parted from her, " What you
entrust to the Campta's household you will find again
in your own when your audience is over." Whether
this avoidance of all direct mention of women were
matter of delicacy or contempt I hardly knew, though
I had observed it on former occasions.
When the door closed, I noticed that Ergimo had
left us, and the officers indicated by gesture rather
than by words that they were to lead me immediately
into the presence. I had considered with some care
how I was, on so critical an occasion, to conduct myself,
and had resolved that the most politic course would
probably be an assumption of courteous but absolute
independence; to treat the Autocrat of this planet
much as an English envoy would treat an Indian
1'rince. It was in accordance with this intention that
I had assumed a dress somewhat more elaborate than
is usually worn here, a white suit of a substance re-
sembling velvet in texture, and moire' in lustre, with
collar and belt of silver. On my breast I wore my
order of [illegible], and in my belt my one cherished
Terrestrial possession — the sword, reputed the best
in Asia, that had twice driven its point home within
a finger's breadth of my life; and that clove the
turban on my brow but a minute before it was sur-
Presented at Court. 45
rendered — just in time to save its gallant owner and his
score of surviving comrades. In its hilt I had set the
emerald with which alone the Commander of the Faith-
ful rewarded my services. The turban is not so unlike
the masculine head-dress of Mars as to attract any
special attention. Ee-entering the hall, I was con-
ducted along a gallery and through another crystal
door into the immediate presence of the Autocrat. The
audience chamber was of no extraordinary size, perhaps
one-quarter as large as the peristyle of Esmo's dwelling.
Along the emerald walls ran a series of friezes wrought
in gold, representing various scenes of peace and war,
agricultural, judicial, and political ; as well as incidents
which, I afterwards learnt, preserved the memory of
the long struggles wherein the Communists were
finally overthrown. The lower half of the room was
empty, the upper was occupied by a semicircle of seats
forming part of the building itself and directly facing
the entrance. These took up about one-third of the
space, the central floor being divided from the upper
portion of the room by a low wall of metal surmounted
by arches supporting the roof and hung with drapery,
which might be so lowered as to conceal the whole
occupied part of the chamber. The seats rose in five
tiers, one above the other. The semicircle, however,
was broken exactly in the middle, that is, at the point
farthest from the entrance, by a broad flight of steps,
at the summit of which, and raised a very little above
the seats of the highest tier, was the throne, supported
by two of the royal brutes whose attack had been so
nearly fatal to myself, wrought in silver, their erect
heads forming the arms and front. About fifty persons
46 Across I he Zodiac.
■were present, occupying only the seats nearest to the
throne. On the upper tier were nine or ten who wore
a scaxlet sash, among whom I recognised a face I had
not seen since the day of my memorable visit to the
Astronaut ; not precisely the face of a friend — Endo
Zampta. Behind the throne were ranged a dozen
guards, armed with the spear and with the lightning
gun used in hunting. That a single Martial battalion
with its appropriate artillery could annihilate the best
army of the Earth I could not but be aware ; yet the
first thought that occurred to me, as I looked on these
formidably armed but diminutive soldiers, was that a
score of my Arab horsemen would have cut a regiment
of them to pieces. But by the time I had reached the
foot of the steps my attention was concentrated on a
single figure and face — the form and countenance of
the Prince, who rose from his throne as I approached.
Those who remember that Louis XIV., a prince reputed
to have possessed the most majestic and awe-inspiring
presence of his age, was actually beneath the ordinary
height of Frenchmen, may be able to believe me when
I say that the Autocrat of Mars, though scarcely five
feet tall, was in outward appearance and bearing the
most truly royal and imposing prince I have ever seen.
His stature, rising nearly two inches over the tallest
of those around him, perhaps added to the effect of a
mien remarkable for dignity, composure, and self-
confidence. The predominant and most immediately
observable expression of his face w T as one of serene
calm and command. A closer inspection and a longer
experience explained why, notwithstanding, my first
conception of his character (and it was a true one)
Presented at Court. 47
ascribed to him quite as much of fire and spirit as o:*
impassive grandeur. His voice, though its tone was
gentle and almost strikingly quiet, had in it something
of the ring peculiar to those which have sent the word
of command along a line of battle. I felt as I heard it
more impressed with the personal greatness, and even
with the rank and power, of the Prince before me,
than when I knelt to kiss the hand of the Most
Christian King, or stood barefooted before the greatest
modern successor of the conqueror of Stamboul.
" I am glad to receive you," he said. " It will be
among the most memorable incidents of my reign that
I welcome to my Court the first visitor from another
world, or," he added, after a sudden pause, and with an
inflection of unmistakable irony in his tone, " the first
who has descended to our world from a height to which
no balloon could reach and at which no balloonist could
" I am honoured, Prince," I replied, " in the notice
of a greater potentate than the greatest of my own
These compliments exchanged, the Prince at once
proceeded to more practical matters, aptly, however,
connecting his next sentence with the formal phrases
" Nevertheless, you have not shown excessive respect
for my power in the person of one of my greatest
officers. If you treated the princes of Earth as un-
ceremoniously as the Regent of Elcavoo, I can under-
stand that you found it convenient to place yourself
beyond their reach."
I thought that this speech afforded me an opportunity
4S Across the Zodiac.
of repairing my offence with the least possible loss oi
" The proudest of Earthly princes," I replied, " would,
I think, have pardoned the roughness which forgot the
duty of a subject in the first obligations of humanity.
Xo Sovereign whom I have served, but would have for-
given me more readily for rough words spoken at such
a moment, than for any delay or slackness in saving the
life of a woman in danger under his own eyes. Permit
me to take this opportunity of apologising to the Regent
in your presence, and assuring him that I was influenced
by no disrespect to him, but only by overpowering
terror for another."
" The lives of a dozen women," said the Campta, still
with that covert irony or sarcasm in his tone, " would
seem of less moment than threats and actual violence
offered to the ruler of our largest and wealthiest
dominion. The excuse which Endo Zampta must
accept " (with a slight but perceptible emphasis on the
imperative) " is the utter difference between our laws
and ideas and your own."
The Eegent, at this speech from his Sovereign, rose
and made the usual gesture of assent, inclining his head
and lifting his left hand to his mouth. But the look
on his face as he turned it on me, thus partly conceal-
ing it from the Campta, boded no good should I ever
fall into his power. The Prince then desired me to
give an account of the motives which had induced my
voyage and the adventures I had encountered. In
reply, I gave him, as briefly and clearly as I could,
a summary of all that is recorded in the earlier part of
this narrative, carefully forbearing to afford any explana-
Presented at Court. 49
tion of the manner in which the apergic force was
generated. This omission the Prince noticed at once
with remarkable quickness.
" You do not choose," he said, " to tell us your secret,
and of course it is your property. Hereafter, however,
I shall hope to purchase it from you."
" Prince," I answered, " if one of your subjects found
himself in the power of a race capable of conquering
this world and destroying its inhabitants, would you
forgive him if he furnished them with the means of
reaching you ? "
" I think," he replied, " my forgiveness would be of
little consequence in that case. But go on with your
I finished my narration among looks of surprise and
incredulity from no inconsiderable part of the audience,
which, however, I noticed the less because the Prince
himself listened with profound interest ; putting in now
and then a question which indicated his perfect com-
prehension of my account, of the conditions of such a
journey and of the means I had employed to meet
" Before you were admitted," he said, " Endo Zampta
had read to us his report upon your vessel and her
machinery, an account which in every respect consists
with and supports the truth of your relation. Indeed,
were your story untrue, you have run a greater risk in
telling it here than in the most daring adventure I have
ever known or imagined. The Court is dismissed.
Eeclamomorta will please me by remaining with me
for the present."
"When the assembly dispersed, I followed their Auto-
50 si cross the Zodiac.
crat at his desire into his private apartments, where,
resting among a pile of cushions and motioning me to
take a place in immediate proximity to himself, he con-
tinued the conversation in a tone and manner so exactly
the same as that he had employed in public as to show
that the latter was not assumed for purposes of monar-
chical stage-play, but was the natural expression of his
own character as developed under the influence of un-
limited and uncontradicted power. He only exchanged,
for unaffected interest and implied confidence, the tone
of ironical doubt by which he had rendered it out of
the question for his courtiers to charge him with a
belief in that which public opinion might pronounce
impossible, while making it apparent to me that he
regarded the bigotry, of scepticism with scarcely veiled
" I wish," he said, " I had half-a-dozen subjects
capable of imagining such an enterprise and hardy
enough to undertake it. But though we all profess to
consider knowledge, and especially scientific knowledge,
the one object for which it is worth while to live, none
of us would risk his life in such an adventure for all the
rewards that science and fame could give."
" I think, Prince," I replied, " that I am in presence
of one inhabitant of this planet who would have dared
at least as much as I have done."
" Possibly," he said. "Because, weary as most of us
profess to be of existence, the weariest life in this world
is that of him who rules it ; living for ever under the
silent criticism which he cannot answer, and bound to
devote his time and thoughts to the welfare of a race
whose utter extermination would be, on their own show-
Presented at Court. 5 1
ing, the greatest boon he could confer upon them. Cer-
tainly I would rather be the discoverer of a world than
He asked me numerous questions about the Earth,
the races that inhabit it, their several systems of govern-
ment, and their relations to one another ; manifesting
a keener interest, I thought, in the great wars which
ended while I was yet a youth, than in any other sub-
ject. At last he permitted me to take leave. " You
are," he said, " the most welcome guest I ever have or
could have received; a guest distinguished above all
others by a power independent of my own. But what
honour I can pay to courage and enterprise, what wel-
come I can give such a guest, shall not be unworthy
of him or of myself. Ketire now to the home you will
find prepared for you. I will only ask you to remember
that I have chosen one near my own in order that I
may see you often, and learn in private all that you can
At the entrance of the apartment I was met by the
officer who had introduced me into the presence, and
conducted at once to a door opening on the interior
court or peristyle of the central portion of the Palace.
This was itself a garden, but, unlike those of private
houses, a garden open to the sky and traversed by roads
in lieu of mere paths ; not serving, as in private dwell-
ings, the purposes of a common living room. Here a
carriage awaited us, and my escort requested me to
mount. I had some misgivings on Eveena's account,
but felt it necessary to imitate the reserve and affected
indifference on such subjects of those among whom I
had been thrown, at least until I somewhat better under-
52 Across the Zodiac.
stood their ways, and had established my own position.
Traversing a vaulted passage underneath the rearward
portion of the Palace, we emerged into the outer garden,
and through this into a road lighted with a brilliancy
almost equal to that of day. Our journey occupied
nearly half an hour, when we entered an enclosure
apparently of great size, the avenue of which was so
wide that, without dismounting, our carriage passed
directly up to the door of a larger house than I had
A PRINCE 'S PRESENT.
" This," said my escort, as we dismounted, " is the
residence assigned to you by the Campta. Besides the
grounds here enclosed, he has awarded you, by a deed
which will presently be placed in your hands, an estate
of some ten stoltau, which you can inspect at your
leisure, and which will afford you a revenue as large as
is enjoyed by any save by the twelve Eegents. He has
endeavoured to add to this testimony of his regard by
rendering your household as complete as wealth and
forethought could make it. "What may be wanting to
your own tastes and habits you will find no difficulty
"We now entered that first and principal chamber of
the mansion wherein it is customary to receive all
visitors and transact all business. The hall was one of
unusual size and magnificence. Here, at a table not far
from the entrance, stood another official, not wearing
the uniform of the Court, with several documents in his
hand. As he turned to salute me, his face wore an
expression of annoyance and discomfiture which not a
little surprised me, till, by following his sidelong, uncom-
fortable glances, I perceived a veiled feminine figure,
54 Across the Zodiac.
which could be no other than Eveena's. Misreading my
surprise, the official said —
" It is no fault of mine, and I have not spoken except
to remonstrate, as far as might be allowed, against so
unusual a proceeding."
He must have been astonished and annoyed indeed
to take such notice of a stranger's wife ; and, above all,
to take upon himself to comment on her conduct for
good or ill. I thought it best to make no reply, and
simply saluted him in form as I received the first paper
handed to me, to which, by the absence of any blank
space, I perceived that my signature was not required.
This was indeed the document which bestowed on me
the house and estate presented by the Sovereign. The
next paper handed to me appeared to resemble the
marriage-contract I had already signed, save that but one
blank was left therein. Unable to decipher it, I was
about to ask the official to read it aloud, when Eveena,
who had stolen up to me unperceived, caught my arm
and drew me a little way aside, indifferent to the won-
dering glances of the officials ; who had probably never
seen a woman venture uncalled into the public apart-
ments of her husband's house, still less interpose in any
matter of business, and no doubt thought that she
was taking outrageous advantage of my ignorance and
"I will scold you presently, child," I said quickly
and low. " What is it ? "
" Sign at once," she whispered, " and ask no ques-
tions. Deal with me as you will afterwards. You
must take what is given you now, without comment or
objection, simply expressing your thanks."
A Prince s Present. 55
" Must ! Eveena ? "
" It is not safe to refuse or slight gifts from such a
quarter," she answered, in the same low tone. " Trust
me so far ; please do what I entreat of you now. I
must bear your displeasure if I fail to satisfy you when
we are alone."
Her manner was so agitated and so anxious that it
recalled to me at once the advice of Esmo upon the
same point, though the fears which had prompted so
strange an intervention were wholly incomprehensible
to me. I knew her, however, by this time too well to
refuse the trust she now for the first time claimed, and
taking the documents one by one as if I had perfectly
understood them, I wrote my name in the space left
blank for it, and allowed the official to stamp the slips
without a word. I then expressed briefly but earnestly
my thanks both to the Autocrat and to the officials
who had been the agents of his kindness. They re-
tired, and I looked round for Eveena ; but as soon as
she saw that I was about to comply with her request,
she had quitted the room. Alone in my own house,
knowing nothing of its geography, having no notion
how to summon the brute domestics — if, indeed, the
dwelling were furnished with those useful creatures,
without whom a Martial household would be signally
incomplete — I could only look for the spring that
opened the principal door. This should lead into the
gallery which, as I judged, must divide the hall and the
front apartments from those looking into the peristyle.
Having found and pressed this spring, the door opened
on a gallery longer, wider, and more elaborately orna-
mented than that of the only Martial mansions into
56 Across the Zodiac.
which I had been hitherto admitted. Looking round
in no little perplexity, I observed a niche in which
stood a statue of white relieved by a scarlet back-
ground ; and beside this statue, crouching and half
hidden, a slight pink object, looking at first like a
bundle of drapery, but which in a moment sprang up,
and, catching my hand, made me aware that Eveena
had been waiting for me.
" I beg you," she said with an earnestness I could not
understand, "I beg you to come this way," leading me
to the right, for I had turned instinctively to the left
in entering the gallery, perhaps because my room in
Esmo's house had lain in that direction. Reaching
the end of the gallery, she turned into one of the inner
apartments ; and as the door closed behind us, I felt that
she was sinking to the ground, as if the agitation she
had manifested in the hall, controlled till her object
was accomplished, had now overpowered her. I caught
and carried her to the usual pile of cushions in the
corner. The room, according to universal custom in
Martial houses after sunset, was brilliantly lighted by
the electric lamp in the peristyle, and throwing back
her veil, I saw that she was pale to ghastliness and
almost fainting. In my ignorance of my own house, I
could call for no help, and employ no other restoratives
than fond words and caresses. Under this treatment,
nevertheless, she recovered perhaps as quickly as under
any which the faculty might have prescribed. She was
still, however, much more distressed than mere con-
sciousness of the grave solecism she had committed
could explain. But I had no other clue to her trouble,
A Prince's Present. 5 7
and could only hope that in repudiating this she would
explain its real cause.
" Come, bambina ! " I expostulated, " we understand
one another too well by this time for you to wrong me
by all this alarm. I know that you would not have
broken through the customs of your people without
good reason ; and you know that, even if your reason
were not sufficient, I should not be hard upon the
" I am sure you would not," she said. " But this
time you have to consider others, and you cannot let it
be supposed that you do not know a wife's duty, or will
allow your authority to be set at naught in your own
" What matter ? Do you suppose I listen in the
roads ? " [care for gossip], I rejoined. " Household rule
is a matter of the veil, and no one — not even your
autocratic Prince — will venture to lift it."
" You have not lifted it yourself yet," she answered.
" You will understand me, when you have looked at the
slips you were about to make them read aloud, had I not
" Eead them yourself," I said, handing to her the
papers I still held, and which, after her interposition,
I had not attempted to decipher. She took them, but
with a visible shudder of reluctance — not stronger than
came over me before she had read three lines aloud.
Had I known their purport, I doubt whether even
Eveena's persuasion and the Autocrat's power together
could have induced me to sign them. They were in
very truth contracts of marriage — if marriage it can be
called. The Sovereign had done me the unusual, but
VOL. II. E
5S Across the Zodiac.
not wholly unprecedented, favour of selecting half a
dozen of the fairest maidens of those waiting their fate
in the Nurseries of his empire ; had proffered on my
behoof terms which satisfied their ambition, gratified
their vanity, and would have induced them to accept
any suitor so recommended, without the insignificant
formality of a personal courtship. It had seemed to
hini only a gracious attention to complete my house-
hold ; and he had furnished me with a bevy of wives,
as I presently found he had selected a complete set of
the most intelligent ambau, carvee, and tyrcc which he
could procure. Without either the one or the other,
the dwelling he had given me would have seemed
equally empty or incomplete.
This mark of royal favour astounded and dismayed
me more than Eveena herself. If she had entertained
the wish, she would hardly have acknowledged to her-
self the hope, that she might remain permanently the
sole partner of my home. But so sudden, speedy, and
wholesale an intrusion thereon she certainly had not
expected. Even in Mars, a first bride generally enjoys
for some time a monopoly of her husband's society, if
she cannot be said to enchain his affection. It was
hard, indeed, before the thirtieth day after her marriage,
to find herself but one in a numerous family — the
harder that our union had from the first been close,
intimate, unrestrainedly confidential, as it can hardly
be where neither expects that the tie can remain exclu-
sive : and because she had learned to realise and rest
upon such love as belongs to a life in which woman,
never affecting the independence of coequal partnership,
has never yet sunk by reaction into a mere slave and
A Prince s Present. 59
toy. It was hard, cruelly hard, on one who had given
in the first hour of marriage, and never failed to give, a
love whose devotion had no limit, no reserve or qualifi-
cation ; a submission that was less self-sacrifice or self-
suppression than the absolute surrender of self — of will*
feeling, and self-interest — to the judgment and pleasure
of him she loved : hard on her who had neither thought
nor care for herself as apart from me.
When I understood to what I had actually committed
myself, I snatched the papers from her, and might have
torn them to pieces but for the gentle restraining hand
she laid upon mine.
" You cannot help it," she said, the tears falling from
her eyes, but with a self-command of which I could not
have supposed her capable. " It seems hard on me ;
but it is better so. It is not that you are not content
with me, not that you love me less. I can bear it better
when it comes from a stranger, and is forced upon
you without, and even, I think, against your will."
The pressure of the arm that clasped her waist, and
the hand that held her own, was a sufficient answer to
any doubt that might be implied in her last words; and,
lifting her eyes to mine, she said —
»" I shall always remember this. I shall always think
that you were sorry not to have at least a little while
longer alone with me. It is selfish to feel glad that
you are pained ; but your sympathy, your sharing my
own feeling, comforts me as I never could have been
comforted when, as must have happened sooner or later,
you had found for yourself another companion."
" Child, do you mean to say there is ' no portal to this
passage ; ' and that, however much against my will, I
60 Across the Zodiac.
am bound to women I have never seen, and never wish
to see ? "
" You have signed," replied Eveena gently. " The
contracts are stamped, and are in the official's hands ;
and you could not attempt tu break them without giving
mortal offence to the Prince, who has intended you
a signal favour. Besides, these girls themselves have
done no wrong, and deserve no affront or unkindness
I was silent for some minutes ; at first simply
astounded at the calm magnanimity which was mingled
with her perfect simplicity, then, pondering the possi-
bilities of the situation —
" Can we not escape ? " I said at last, rather to my-
self than to her.
" Escape ! " she repeated with surprise. " And from
what ? The favour shown you by our Sovereign, the
wealth he has bestowed, the personal interest he has
taken in perfecting every detail of one of the most
splendid homes ever given save to a prince — every inci-
dent of your position — make you the most envied man
in this world ; and you would escape from them ? "
Gazing for a few moments in my face, she added —
" These maidens were chosen as the loveliest in -all
the Nurseries of two continents ; every one of them far
more beautiful than I can be, even in your eyes. Pray
do not, for my sake, be unkind to them or try to dislike
them. What is it you would escape ? "
" Being false to you," I answered, " if nothing else."
" False ! " she echoed, in unaffected wonder. " What
did you promise me ? "
Again I was silenced by the loyal simplicity with
A Prince s Present. 6 1
which, she followed out ideas so strange to me that their
consequences, however logical, I could never anticipate ;
and could hardly admit to be sound, even when so
directly and distinctly deduced as now from the into-
lerable consistency of the premises.
" But," I answered at last, " how much did you pro-
mise, Eveena ? and how much more have you given ? "
" Nothing," she replied, " that I did not owe. You
won your right to all the love I could give before you
asked for it, and since."
" We ' drive along opposite lines,' Madonna ; but we
would both give and risk much to avoid what is before
us. Let me ask your father whether it be not yet pos-
sible to return to my vessel, and leave a world so un-
congenial to both of us."
" You cannot ! " she answered. " Try to escape — you
insult the Prince ; you put yourself and me, for whom
you fear more, in the power of a malignant enemy.
You cannot guide a balloon or a vessel, if you could get
possession of one ; and within a few hours after your
departure was known, every road and every port would
be closed to you."
" Can I not send to your father ? " I said.
" Probably," she replied. " I think we shall find a
telegraph in your office, if you will allow me to enter
there, now there is no one to see ; and it must be morning
Familiar with the construction and arrangement of
a Martial house, Eveena immediately crossed the gal-
lery to what she called the office — the front room on the
right, where the head of the house carries on his work
or study. Here, above a desk attached to the wall,
62 Across the Zodiac.
was one of those instruments whose manipulation was
simple enough for a novice like myself.
" But," I said, " I cannot write your stylic characters ;
and if I used the phonic letters, a message from me
would be very likely to excite the curiosity of officials
who would care about no other."
"May I," she suggested, "write your message for
you, and put your purport in words that will be under-
stood by my father alone ? "
" Do," I rejoined, " but do it in my name, and I will
Under her direction, I took the stylus or pencil and
the slip of tafroo she offered me, and wrote my name
at the head. After eliciting the exact purport of the
message I desired to send, and meditating for some
moments, she wrote and read out to me words literally
translated as follows : —
" The rich aviary my flower-bird thought over full.
I would breathe home [air]. Health-speak." The
sense of which, as I could already understand, was —
"A splendid mansion has been given us, but my
flower-bird has found it too full. I wish for my native
The brevity of the message was very characteristic
of the language. Equally characteristic of the stylo-
graphy was the fact that the words occupied about an
inch beyond the address. Following her pencil as she
pointed to the ciphers, I said —
" Is not asny card a false concord ? And why have
you used the past tense ? "
This ill-timed pedantry, applying to Martial grammar
the rules of that with which my boyhood had been
A Prince s Present. 63
painfully familiarised, provoked, amid all our trouble,
Eveeua's low silver-toned laugh.
" I meant it," she answered. " My father will look
at his pupil's writing with both eyes."
" Well, you are out of reach even of the leveloo."
She laughed again.
"Asnyca-re," she said ; the changed accentuation turn-
ing the former words into the well-remembered name
of my landing-place, with the interrogative syllable
This message despatched, we could only await the
reply. Nestling among the cushions at my knee, her
head resting on my breast, Eveena said —
" And now, forgive my presumption in counselling
you, and my reminding you of what is painful to both.
But what to us is as the course of the clock, is strange
as the stars to you. You must see — them, and must
order all household arrangements ; and " (glancing at a
dial fixed in the wall) " the black is driving down the
"So much the better," I said. "I shall have less
time to speak to them, and less chance of speaking or
looking my mind. And as to arrangements, those, of
course, you must make."
" I ! forgive me," she answered, " that is impossible.
It is for you to assign to each of us her part in the
household, her chamber, her rank and duties. You
forget that I hold exactly the same position with the
youngest among them, and cannot presume even to
suggest, much less to direct."
I was silent, and after a pause she went on —
" It is not for me to advise you; but"
64 Across the Zodiac.
" Speak your thought, now and always, Eveena.
Even if I did not stand in so much need of your guid-
ance in a new world, I never yet refused to hear
counsel ; and it is a wife's right to offer it."
" Is it ? We are not so taught," she answered. " I am
afraid you have rougher ground to steer over than you
are aware. Alone with you, I hope I should have
done my best, remembering the lesson of the leveloo,
never to give you the pain of teaching a different one.
But we shall no longer be alone ; and you cannot hope
to manage seven as you might manage one. Moreover,
these girls have neither had that first experience of
your nature which made that lesson so impressive to
me, nor the kindly and gentle training, under a mother's
care and a father's mild authority, that I had enjoyed.
They would not understand the control that is not
enforced. They will obey when they must ; and will
feel that they must obey when they cannot deceive,
and dare not rebel. Do not think hardly of them for
this. They have known no life but that of the strict
clockwork routine of a great Nursery, where no personal
affection and no rule but that of force is possible."
" I understand, Madonna. Your Prince's gift puts
a man in charge of young ladies, hitherto brought up
among women only, and, of course, petty, petulant,
frivolous, as women left to themselves ever are ! I
wish you could see the ridiculous side of the matter
which occurs to me, as I see the painful aspect which
alone is plain to you. I can scarcely help laughing at
the chance which has assigned to me the daily personal
management of half-a-dozen school-girls ; and school-
girls who must also be wives ! I don't think you need
A Prince s Present. 65
fear that I shall deal with them as with you : as a man
of sense and feeling must deal with a woman whose
own instincts, affection, and judgment are sufficient
for her guidance. I never saw much of girls or
children. I remember no home but the Western
school and the Oriental camp. I never, as soldier or
envoy, was acquainted with other men's homes. While
still beardless, I have ruled bearded soldiers by a
discipline whose sanctions were the death-shot and
the bastinado ; and when I left the camp and court,
it was for colleges where a beardless face is never
seen. I must look to you to teach me how discipline
may be softened to suit feminine softness, and what
milder sanction may replace the noose and the stick of
the /crash " (Persian executioner).
" I cannot believe," Eveena answered, taking me,
as usual, to the letter, " that you will ever draw the
zone too tight. We say that ' anarchy is the worst
tyranny. ' Laxity which leaves us to quarrel and tor-
ment each other, tenderness which encourages disorder
and disobedience till they must be put down perforce,
is ultimate unkindness. I will not tell you that such
indulgence will give you endless trouble, win you
neither love nor respect, and probably teach its objects
to laugh at you under the veil. You will care more
for this — that you would find yourself forced at last
to change ' velvet hand for leathern band.' Believe me,
my — our comfort and happiness must depend on
your grasping the helm at once and firmly ; ruling us,
and ruling with a strong hand. Otherwise your home
will resemble the most miserable of all scenes of dis-
comfort — an ungoverned school ; and the most severe
66 Across the Zodiac.
and arbitrary household rule is better by far than that.
And — forgive me once more — but do not speak as if
you would deal one measure with the left hand and
another with the right. Surely you do not so mis-
understand me as to think I counselled you to treat
myself differently from others ? • Just rule only can
be gentle.' If you show favouritism at first, you will
find yourself driven step by step to do what you will
feel to be cruel ; what will pain yourself perhaps more
than any one else. You may make envy and dislike bite
(hold) their tongues, but you cannot prevent their sting-
ing under the veil. Therefore, once more, you cannot let
my interference pass as if none but you knew of it."
" Madonna, if I am to rule such a household, I will
rule as absolutely as your autocratic Prince. I will
tolerate no criticism and no questions."
"You surely forget," she urged, " that they know my
offence, and do not know — must not know — what in
your judgment excuses it. Let them once learn that
it is possible so to force the springs [bolts] without a
sting, it will take a salt-fountain [of tears] to blot the
lesson from their memory."
"What would you have, Eveena? Am I to deal
unjustly that I may seem just? That course steers
straight to disaster. And, had you been in fault, could
I humble you in other eyes ? "
" If I feel hurt by any mark of your displeasure, or
humbled that it should be known to my equals in your
own household," she replied, " it is time I were de-
prived of the privileges that have rendered me so
My answer was intercepted by the sound of an electric
A Prince s Present. 67
bell or miniature gong, and a slip of tafroo fell upon the
desk. The first words were in that vocal character which
I had mastered, and came from Esmo.
" Hysterical folly," he had said. " Mountain air
might be fatal ; and clear nights are dangerously cold
for more than yourselves."
" What does he mean ? " I asked, as I read out a
formula more studiously occult than those of the
" That I am unpardonably silly, and that you must
not dream of going back to your vessel. The last words,
I suppose, warn you how carefully in such a household
you need to guard the secrets of the Starlight."
" Well, and what is this in the stylic writing ? "
Eveena glanced over it and coloured painfully, the
tears gathering in her eyes.
" That," she said, pointing to the first cipher, " is my
" Then," I said, " it is meant for you, not for me."
" Nay," she answered. " Do you think I could take
advantage of your not knowing the character ? " — and
she read words quite as incomprehensible to me as the
" Can a star mislead the blind ? I should veil myself
in crimson if I have trained a bird to snatch sugar from
full hands. Must even your womanhood reverse the
clasps of your childhood ? "
" It chimes midnight twice," I said — a Martial phrase
meaning, ' I am as much in the dark as ever.' " Do
not translate it, carissima. I can read in your face that
it is unjust — reproachful where you deserve no reproach."
" Nay, when you so wrong my mother I must tell you
68 Across the Zodiac.
exactly what she means : — ' Can a child of the Star take
advantage of one who relies on her to explain the customs
of a world unknown to him ? I blush to think that my
child can abuse the tenderness of one who is too eager
to indulge her fancies.'
" You see she is quite right. You do trust me so
absolutely, you are so strangely over-kind to me, it is
shameful I should vex you by fretting because you are
forced to do what you might well have done at your
" My own, I was more than vexed ; chiefly perhaps
for your sake, but not by you. "Where any other woman
would have stung the sore by sending fresh sparks along
the wire, you thought only to spare me the pain of seeing
you pained. But what do the last words mean ? No "
— for I saw the colour deepen on her half-averted face
— " better leave unread what we know to be written in
But the less agreeable a supposed duty, the more
resolute was Eveena to fulfil it.
" They were meant to recall a saying familiar in every
school and household," she said : —
" ' Sandal loosed and well-clasped zone —
Childhood spares the woman grown.
Change the clasps, and woman yet
Pays with interest childhood's debt.'
"This" — tightening and relaxing the clasp of her zone —
"is the symbol of stricter or more indulgent household
rule." Then bending so as to avert her face, she unclasped
her embroidered sandal and gave it into my hand ; — "and
this is what, I suppose, you would call its sanction."
" There is more to be said for the sandal than I sup-
A Prince s Present. 69
posed, bambina, if it have helped to make you what you
are. But you may tell Zulve that its work and hers
Kneeling before her, I kissed, with more studied
reverence than the sacred stone of the Caaba, the tiny
foot on which I replaced its covering.
" Baby as she thinks and I call you, Eveena, you are
fast unteaching me the lesson which, before you were
born and ever since, the women of the Earth have done
their utmost to impress indelibly upon my mind — the
lesson that woman is but a less lovable, more petulant,
more deeply and incurably spoilt child. Your mother's
reproach is an exact inversion of the truth. No one
could have acted with more utter unselfishness, more
devoted kindness, more exquisite delicacy than you have
shown in this miserable matter. I could not have
believed that even you could have put aside your
own feelings so completely, could have recognised so
promptly that I was not in fault, have thought so ex-
clusively of what was best and safe for me in the first
place, and next of what was kind and just and generous
to your rivals. I never thought such reasonableness
and justice possible to feminine nature ; and if I cannot
love you more dearly, you have taught me how deeply
to admire and honour you. I accept the situation, since
you will have it so ; be as just and considerate hence-
forward as you have been to-night, and trust me that it
shall bring no shadow between us — shall never make
you less to me than you are now."
" But it must," she insisted. " I cannot now be other
than one wife among many ; and what place I hob 1
among them is, remember, for you and you alone to
yo Across the Zodiac.
fix. No rule, no custom, obliges you to give any prefer-
ence in form or fact to one, merely because you chanced
to marry her first."
" Such, nevertheless, did not seem to be the practice
in your father's house. Your mother was as distinctly
wife and mistress as if his sole companion."
" My father," she replied, " did not marry a second
time till within my own memory ; and it was natural
and usual to give the first place to one so much older
and more experienced. I have no such claim, and when
you see my companions you may find good reason to
think that I am the least fit of all to take the first place.
Nor," she added, drawing me from the room, " do I wish
it. If only you will keep in your mind one little place
for the memory of our visit to your vessel and your pro-
mise respecting it, I shall be more than content."
Eveena's humble, unconscious self-abnegation was
rendering the conversation intolerably painful, and even
the embarrassing situation now at hand was a welcome
interruption. Eveena paused before a door opening
from the gallery into one of the rooms looking on the
" You will find them there," she said, drawing back.
" Come with me, then," I answered ; and as she
shrank away, I tightened my clasp of her waist and
drew her forward. The door opened, and we found
ourselves in presence of six veiled ladies in pink and
silver, all of them, with one exception, a little taller and
less slight than my bride. Eveena, with the kindness
which never failed under the most painful trial or the
most powerful impulses of natural feeling, extricated her-
self gently from my hold, took the hand of the first, and
A Prince s Present. ji
brought her up to me. The girl was evidently startled
at the first sight of her new possessor, and alarmed by
a figure so much larger and more powerful than any
she had ever seen, exceeding probably the picture drawn
by her imagination.
" This," said Eveena gently and gravely, " is Eunane,
the prettiest and most accomplished scholar in her
As I was about to acknowledge the introduction with
the same cold politeness with which I should have
bowed to a strange guest on Earth, Eveena took my left
hand in her own and laid it on the maiden's veil, recallino-
to me at once the proprieties of the occasion and the
justice she had claimed for her unoffending and unin-
tentional rivals ; but at the same time bringing back in
full force a remembrance she could not have forgotten,
but whose effect upon myself the ideas to which she
was habituated rendered her unable to anticipate. To
accept in her presence a second bride, by the same cere-
monial act which had so lately asserted my claim to
herself, was intensely repugnant to my feelings, and only
her own self-sacrificing influence could have overcome
my reluctance. My hesitation was, I fear, perceptible
to Eunane ; for, as I removed her veil and head-dress,
her expression and a colour somewhat brighter than that
of mere maiden shyness indicated disappointment or
mortified pride. She was certainly very beautiful, and
perhaps, had I now seen them both for the first time, I
might have acquiesced in the truth of Eveena's self-
depreciation. As it was, nothing could associate with
the bright intelligent face, the clear grey eyes and light
brown hair, the lithe active form instinct with nervous
Across the Zodiac.
energy, that charm which from our first acquaintance
their expression of gentle kindness, and, later, the
devoted affection visible in every look, had given to
It is, I suppose, hardly natural to man to feel actual
unkindness towards a young and beautiful girl who
has given no personal offence. Having once admitted
the justice of Eveena's plea, and feeling that she would
be more pained by the omission than by the fulfilment
of the forms which courtesy and common kindness
imperatively demanded, I kissed Eunane's brow and
spoke a few words to her, with as much of tenderness
as I could feel or affect for Eveena's rival, after what
had passed to endear Eveena more than ever. The
latter waited a little, to allow me spontaneously to
perform the same ceremony with the other girls ; but
seeing my hesitation, she came forward again and pre-
sented severally four others — Enva (" Snow " = Blanche),
Leenoo ("Bose"), Eirale, Elfe, all more or less of the
usual type of female beauty in Mars, with long full
tresses varying in tinge from flax to deep gold or the
lightest brown ; each with features almost faultless, and
with all the attraction (to me unfailing) possessed for
men who have passed their youth by la beaute du Diable
— the bloom of pure graceful girlhood. Eive, the
sixth of the party, standing on the right of the others,
and therefore last in place according to Martial usage,
was smaller and slighter than Eveena herself, and made
an individual impression on my attention by a manifest
timidity and agitation greater than any of the rest had
evinced. As I removed her veil I was struck by the
total unlikeness which her face and form presented to
A Prince s Present. 73
those I had just saluted. Her hair was so dark as by-
contrast to seem black ; her complexion less fair than
those of her companions, though as fair as that of an
average Greek beauty ; her eyes of deepest brown ; her
limbs, and especially the hands and feet, marvellously
perfect in shape and colour, but in the delicacy and
minuteness of their form suggesting, as did all the pro-
portions of her tiny figure, the peculiar grace of child-
hood ; an image in miniature of faultless physical beauty.
In Eive alone of the bevy I felt a real interest ; but the
interest called forth by a singularly pretty child, in
whose expression the first glance discerns a character
it will take long to read, rather than that commanded
by the charms of earliest womanhood.
When I had completed the ceremonial round, there
was a somewhat awkward silence, which Eveena at last
broke by suggesting that Eunane should show us through
the house, with which she had made the earliest ac-
quaintance. This young girl readily took the lead thus
assigned to her, and by some delicate manoeuvre, whose
authorship I could not doubt, I found her hand in mine
as we made our tour. The number of chambers was
much greater than in Esmo's dwelling, the garden of
the peristyle larger and more elaborately arranged, if
not more beautiful. The ambau were more numerous
than even the domestic service of so large a mansion
appeared to require. The birds, whose duties lay out-
side, were by this time asleep on their perches, and we
forbore to disturb them. The central chamber of the
seraglio, if I may so call it, the largest and midmost of
those in the rear of the garden, devoted as of course to
the ladies of the household, was especially magnificent.
VOL. II. F
74 Across tJie Zodiac.
When we stood in its midst, shy looks askance from all
the six betrayed their secret ambition; though Ei\\'"s
was but momentary, and so slight that I felt I might
have unfairly suspected her of presumption. I left
this room, however, in silence, and assigned to each of
my maiden brides, in order as they had been presented
to me, the rooms on the left ; and then, as we stood
once more in the peristyle, having postponed all further
arrangements, all distribution of household duties, to
the morrow (assigning, however, to Eunane, whose native
energy and forwardness had made early acquaintance
with the dwelling and its dumb inhabitants, the charge
of providing and preparing with their assistance our
morning meal), I said, " I have let the business of the
evening zyda actually encroach on midnight, and must
detain you from your rest no longer. Eveeca, you know,
I still have need of you."
She was standing at a little distance, next to Eunane ;
and the latter, with a smile half malicious, half trium-
phant, whispered something in her ear. There was a
suppressed annoyance in Eveena's look which provoked
me to interpose. On Earth I should never have been
fool enough to meddle in a woman's quarrel. The
weakest can take her own part in the warfare of taunt
and innuendo, better and more venomously than could
dervish, priest, or politician. But Eveena could no
more lower herself to the ordinary level of feminine
malice than I could have borne to hear her do so ; and
it was intolerable that one whose sweet humility com-
manded respect from myself should submit to slight or
sneer from the lips and eyes of petulant girls. Eunane
A Prince's Present. 75
started as I spoke, using that accent which gives its
most peremptory force to the Martial imperative.
"Eepeat aloud what you have chosen to say to
Eveena in my presence."
If the first to express the ill-will excited by Eveena's
evident influence, though exerted in their own behalf,
it was less that Eunane surpassed her companions in
malice than that they fell short of her in audacity.
Her school-mates had found her their most daring leader
in mischief, the least reluctant scapegoat when mischief
was to be atoned. But she was cowed, partly perhaps
by her first collision with masculine authority, partly, I
fear, by sheer dread of physical force visibly greater
than she had ever known by repute. Perhaps she was
too much frightened to obey. At any rate, it was from
Eveena, despite her pleading looks, that I extorted an
answer. She yielded at last only to that formal im-
perative which her conscience would not permit her to
disobey, and which for the first time I now employed
in addressing her.
"Eunane only repeated," Eveena said, with a reluct-
ance so manifest that one might have supposed her to
be the offender, " a school-girl's proverb : —
' AVare the wrath that stands to cool :
Then the sandal shows the rule.' "
The smile that had accompanied the whisper — though
not so much suggestive of a woman's malignity as of a
child's exultation in a companion's disgrace — gave point
and sting to the taunt. It is on chance, I suppose, that
the effect of such things depends. Had the saying been
thrown at any of Eunane's equals, I should probably
76 Across the Zodiac.
have been inclined to laugh, even if I felt it necessary
to reprimand. But, angered at a hint which placed
Eveena on their own level, I forgot how far the speaker's
experience and inexperience alike palliated the imperti-
nence. That the insinuation shocked none of those
around me was evident. Theirs were not the looks of
women, however young and thoughtless, startled by an
affront to their sex ; but of children amazed at a child's
folly in provoking capricious and irresponsible power.
The angry quickness with which I turned to Eunane
received a double, though doubly unintentional, rebuke,
equally illustrative of Martial ideas and usages. The
culprit cowered like a child expecting a brutal blow.
A gentle pressure on my left arm evinced the same fear
in a quarter from which its expression wounded me
deeply. That pressure arrested not, as was intended,
my hand, but my voice ; and when I spoke the fright-
ened girl looked up in surprise at its measured tones.
" Wrong, and wrong thrice over, Eunane. It is for
me to teach you the bad taste of bringing into your
new home the ideas and language of school. Mean-
while, in no case would you learn more of my rule than
concerned your own fault. Take in exchange for your
proverb the kindliest I have learned in your language : —
' Whispered warnings reach the heart ;
Veil the blush and spare the smart.'
But, happily for you, yourtaunt had not truth enough to
sting ; and I can tell the story about which you are
unduly curious as frankly as you please. — Let me speak
now, Eveena, that I may spare the need to speak again
and in another tone. — That Eveena seemed to have put
us both in a false position only convinced me that she
A Prince s Present. 77
had a motive she knew would satisfy me as fully as her-
self. When I learned what that motive was, I was
greatly surprised at her unselfishness and courage. If
you threw me your veil to save me from drowning,
how would you feel if my first words to you were : —
' No one must think I could not swim, therefore even
the household must believe you, in unveiling, guilty of
an unpardonable fault ' ? . . . Answer me, Eunane."
"I should let you sink next time," she replied, with
a pretty half-dubious sauciness, showing that her worst
fears at least were relieved.
" Quite right ; but you are less generous than Eveena.
To hide how I had acted on her advice, she would have
had you suppose her guilty. That you might not laugh
at my authority, and ' find a dragon in the esve's nest,'
she would have had me treat her as guilty."
" But I deserved it, A girl has no right to break the
seal in the master's absence," interposed Eveena, much
more distressed than gratified by the vindication to
which she was so well entitled.
" Let your tongue sleep, Eveena. So [with a kiss]
I blot your first miscalculation, Eunane. Earth [the
Evening Star of Mars] light your dreams."
It w r as with visible reluctance that Eveena followed
me into the chamber we had last left ; and she expos-
tulated as earnestly as her obedience would permit
against the fiat that assigned it to her.
" Choose what room you please, then," I said ; " but
understand that, so far as my will and my trust can
make you, you are the mistress here."
"Well, then," she answered, "give me the little
octagon beside your own : " — the smallest and simplest,
yS Across the Zodiac.
but to my taste the prettiest, room in the house. "I
should like to he near you still, if I may ; hut, believe
me, I shall not be frozen (hurt) because you think
another hand better able to steer the carriage, if mine
may sometimes rest in yours."
Leading her into the room she had chosen, and having
installed her among the cushions that were to form her
couch, I silenced decisively her renewed protest.
" Let me answer you on this point, once and for ever,
Eveena. To me this seems matter of right, not of favour
or fitness. But favour and fitness here go with right.
I could no more endure to place another before or beside
you than I could break the special bond between us,
and deny the hope of which the Serpent " (laying my
hand on her shoulder-clasp, which, by mere accident,
was shaped into a faint resemblance to the mystic coil)
" is the emblem ; the hope that alone can make such love
as ours endurable, or even possible, to creatures that
must die. She who knelt with me before the Emerald
Throne, who took with me the vows so awfully sanc-
tioned, shall hold the first place in my home as in my
heart till the Serpent's promise be fulfilled."
Both were silent for some time, for never could we
refer to that Vision — whether an objective fact, or an
impression communicated from one spirit to the other
by the occult force of intense sympathy — save by such
allusion ; and the remembrance never failed to affect us
both with a feeling too deep for words. Eveena spoke
" I am sorry you have so bound yourself ; perhaps
only because you knew me first. And it shames me to
receive fresh proof of your kindness to-night."
A Princes Present. 79
" And why, my own ? "
" Do not make me feel," she said, " that — though the
measured sentences you have taught me to call scolding
seemed the sharpest of all penances — there is a heavier
yet in the silence which withholds forgiveness."
" What have I yet to forgive, Madonna ? "
But Eveena could read my feelings in spite of my
words, and knew that the pain she had given was too
recent to allow me to misconceive her penitence.
" I ought to say, my interference. It was your right
to rule as you chose, and my meddling was a far worse
offence than Eunane's malice. But it was not that you
felt too deeply to reprove."
" True ! Eunane hurt me a little ; but I expected no
such misjudgment from you. By the touch that proved
your alarm I know that I gave no cause for it."
" How so ? " she asked in surprise.
" You laid your hand instinctively on my left arm,
the one your people use. Had I made the slightest
angry gesture, you would have held back my right. Had
I deserved that Eveena should think so ill of me — think
me capable of doing such dishonour to her presence and
to my own roof, which should have protected an equal
enemy from that which you feared for a helpless girl ?
Eor what you would have checked was such a blow as
men deal to men who can strike back; and the hand
that had given it would have been unfit to clasp man's
in friendship or woman's in love. You yourself must
have shrunk from its touch."
She caught and held it fast to her lips.
" Can I forget that it saved my life ? I don't under-
stand you at all, but I see that I have frozen your heart.
80 Across the Zodiac.
I did fancy for one moment you would strike, as pas-
sionate men and women often do strike provoking girls,
perhaps forgetting your own strength ; and I knew you
would be miserable if you did hurt her — in that way.
The next moment I was ashamed, more than you will
believe, to have wronged you so. Like every man, from
the head of a household to the Arch-Judge or the
Campta, you must rule by fear. But your wrath will
' stand to cool ; ' and you will hate to make a girl cry as
you would hate to send a criminal to the electric-rack,
the lightning-stroke, or the vivisection-table. And,
whatever you had done, do you fancy that I could
shrink from you ? I said, ' If you weary of your
flower-bird you must strike with the hammer ; ' and if
you could do so, do you think I should not feel for
your hand to hold it to the last ? "
" Hush, Eveena ! how can I bear such words ? You
might forgive me for any outrage to you : I doubt your
easily forgetting cruelty to another. I have not a heart
like yours. As I never failed a friend, so I never yet
forgave a foe. Yet even I might pardon one of those
girls an attempt to poison myself, and in some circum-
stances I might even learn to like her better afterwards.
But I doubt if I could ever touch again the hand that
had mixed the poison for another, though that other
were my mortal enemy."
( 8i )
A COMPLETE ESTABLISHMENT.
Before I slept Eveena had convinced me, much to my
own discomfiture,how very limited must be any authority
that could be delegated to her. In such a household
there could be no second head or deputy, and an attempt
to devolve any effective charge on her would only
involve her in trouble and odium. Even at the break-
fast, spread as usual in the centre of the peristyle, she
entreated that we should present ourselves separately.
Eunane appeared to have performed very dexterously
the novel duty assigned to her. The ambau had obeyed
her orders with w T ell-trained promptitude, and the
carvee, in bringing fruit, leaves, and roots from the
outer garden, had more than verified all that on a former
occasion Eveena had told me of their cleverness and
quick comprehension of instructions. Eunane's face
brightened visibly as I acknowledged the neatness and
the tempting appearance of the meal she had set forth.
She was yet more gratified by receiving charge for the
future of the same duty, and authority to send, as is
usual, by an amba the order for that principal part of
each day's food which is supplied by the confectioner.
By reserving for Eveena the place among the cushions
82 Across the Zodiac.
immediately on my left, I made to the assembled house-
hold the expected announcement that she was to be
regarded as mistress of the house ; feminine punctilious-
ness on points of domestic precedence strikingly con-
trasting the unceremonious character of intercourse
among men out of doors. The very ambau recognise
the mistress or the favourite, as dogs the master of their
The ladies were at first shy and silent, Eunane only
giving me more than a monosyllabic answer to my
remarks, and even Eunane never speaking save in reply
to me. A trivial incident, however, broke through this
reserve, and afforded me a first taste of the petty domes-
tic vexations in store for me. The beverage most to
my liking was always the carcard — juice flavoured with
roasted kernels, something resembling coffee in taste.
On this occasion the carcard and another favourite
dish had a taste so peculiar that I pushed both aside
almost untouched. On observing this, the rest — Enva,
Leenoo, Elfe, and Eirale — took occasion to criticise the
articles in question with such remarks and grimaces as
ill-bred children might venture for the annoyance of an
inexperienced sister. I hesitated to repress this out-
break as it deserved, till Eunane's bitter mortification
was evident in her brightening colour and the doubtful,
half-appealing glance of tearful eyes. Then a rebuke,
such as might have been appropriately addressed yester-
day to these rude school-girls by their governess, at once
silenced them. As we rose, I asked Eveena, who, with
more courtesy than the rest of us, had finished her
" Is there any justice in these reproaches ? I cer-
A Complete Establishment. S3
tainly don't like the carcarfi to-day, Imt it does not
follow that Eunane is in fault."
The rest, Eunane included, looked their annoyance
at this appeal ; but Eveena's temper and kindness were
proof against petulance.
"The carcara is in fault," she said; "but I don't
think Eunane is. In learning cookery at school she
had her materials supplied to her ; this time the carve
has probably given her an unripe or overripe fruit which
has spoiled the whole."
" And do you not know ripe from unripe fruit ? " I
inquired, turning to Eunane.
" How should she ? " interposed Eveena. " I doubt if
she ever saw them growing."
" How so ? " I asked of Eunane.
" It is true," she answered. " I never went beyond
the walls of our playground till I came here; and
though there were a few flower-beds in the inner gar-
dens, there were none but shade trees among the turf
and concrete yards to which we were confined."
" I should have known no better," observed Eveena ;
" but being brought up at home, I learned to know all
the plants in my father's grounds, which were more
various, I believe, than usual."
" Then," I said, " Eunane has a new life and a mul-
titude of new pleasures before her. Has this peristyle
given you your first sight of flowers beyond those in
the beds of your Nursery ? And have you never seen
anything of the world about you ? "
" Never," she said. " And Eveena's excuse for me is,
I believe, perfectly true. The carve must have been
stupid, but I knew no better."
84 Across the Zodiac.
"Well," I rejoined, "you must forgive the bird, as
we must excuse you for spoiling our breakfast. I will
contrive that you shall know more of fruits and flowers
before long. In the meantime, you will probably have
a different if not a wider view from this roof than from
that of your Nursery."
After all, Eunane's girlhood, typical of the whole life
of many Martial women, had not, I suppose, been more
dreary or confined than that of children in London,
Canton, or Calcutta. But this incident, reminding me
how dreary and limited that life was, served to excuse
in my eyes the pettiness and poverty of the characters
it had produced. A Martial woman's whole experience
may well be confined within a few acres, and from the
cradle to the grave she may see no more of the world
than can be discerned from the roof of her school or
her husband's home.
Eunane, with the assistance of the aniban, busied
herself in removing the remains of the meal. The other
five, putting on their veils, scampered up the inclined
plane to the roof, much like children released from table
or from tasks. Turning to Eveena, who still remained
beside me, I said —
" Get your veil, and come out with me ; I have
not yet an idea where we are, and scarcely a notion
what the grounds are like."
She followed me to my apartment, out of which
opened the one she had chosen, and as the window
closed behind us she spoke in a tone of appeal —
" Do not insist on my accompanying you. As you
bade me always speak my thought, I had much rather
you would take one of the others."
A Complete Establisltment. 85
" You professed," I said, " to take especial pleasure
in a walk with me, and this time I will be careful that
you are not overtired."
" Of course I should like it," she answered ; " but it
would not be just. Please let me this time remain to
take my part of the household duties, and make myself
acquainted with the house. Choose your companion
among the others, whom you have scarcely noticed
Preferring not only Eveena's company, but even my
own, to that of any of the six, and feeling myself not a
little dependent on her guidance and explanations, I
remonstrated. But finding that her sense of justice
and kindness would yield to nothing short of direct
command, I gave way.
" You forget my pleasure," I said at last. " But if
you will not go, you must at least tell me which I am
to take. I will not pretend to have a choice in the
" Well, then," she answered, " I should be glad to see
you take Eunane. She. is, I think, the eldest, appa-
rently the most intelligent and companionable, and she
has had one mortification already she hardly deserved."
"And is much the prettiest," I added maliciously.
But Eveena was incapable of even understanding so
direct an appeal to feminine jealousy.
" I think so," she said ; " much the prettiest among
us. But that will make no difference under her veil."
" And must she keep down her veil," I asked, " in our
own grounds ? "
Eveena laughed. " Wherever she might be seen by
any man but yourself."
86 Across the Zodiac.
" Call her then," I answered.
Eveena hesitated. But having successfully carried
her own way on the main question, she would not renew
her remonstrances on a minor point ; and finding her
about to join the rest, she drew Eunane apart. Eunane
came up to me alone, Eveena having busied herself in
some other part of the house. She approached slowly
as if reluctant, and stood silent before me, her manner
by no means expressive of satisfaction.
" Eveena thought," I said, " that you would like to
accompany me ; but if not, you may tell her so ; and tell
her in that case that she must come."
" But I shall be glad to go wherever you please,"
replied Eunane. " Eveena did not tell me why you
sent for me, and "
" And you were afraid to be scolded for spoiling the
breakfast ? You have heard quite enough of that."
"You dropped a word last night," she answered, "which
made me think you would keep your displeasure till
you had me alone."
" Quite true," I said, " if I had any displeasure to
keep. But you might spoil a dozen meals, and not vex
me half as much as the others did."
"Why ? " she asked in surprise. " Girls and women
always spite one another if they have a chance, especially
one who is in disfavour or disgrace with authority."
" So much the worse," I answered. " And now — you
know as much or as little of the house as any of us ;
find the way into the grounds."
A narrow door, not of crystal as usual, but of metal
painted to resemble the walls, led directly from one
corner of the peristyle into the grounds outside. I had
A Complete Establishment. &j
inferred on my arrival, by the distance from the road to
the house, that their extent was considerable, but I was
surprised alike by their size and arrangement. On two
sides they were bounded by a wall about four hundred
yards in length — that parting them from the road was
about twice as long. They were laid out with few of
the usual orchard plots and beds of different fruits and
vegetables, but rather in the form of a small park, with
trees of various sorts, among which the fruit trees were
a minority. The surface was broken by natural rising
grounds and artificial terraces; the soil was turfed in
the manner I have previously described, with minute
plants of different colours arranged in bands and
patterns. Here and there was a garden consisting of a
variety of flower-beds and flowering shrubs ; broad con-
crete paths winding throughout, and a beautiful silver
stream meandering hither and thither, and filling several
small ponds and fountains. That the grounds imme-
diately appertaining to the house were not intended as
usual for the purposes of a farm or kitchen-garden was
evident. The reason became equally apparent when,
looking towards the north, where no wall bounded them,
I saw — over a gate in the middle of a dense hedge of
flowering shrubs, which, with a ditch beyond it, formed
the limit of the park in that direction — an extensive
farm divided by the usual ditches into some twenty-
five or thirty distinct fields, and more than a square
mile in extent. This, as Eunane's native inquisitiveness
and quickness had already learnt, formed part of the
estate attached to the mansion and bestowed upon me
by the Campta. It was admirably cultivated, contain-
ing orchards, fields rich with various thriving crops, and
88 Across the Zodiac.
pastures grazed by the Unicorn and other of the domestic
birds and beasts kept to supply Martial tables with
milk, eggs, and meat; producing nearly every commodity
to which the climate was suited, and, as a very short
observation assured me, capable of yielding a far greater
income than would suffice to sustain in luxury and
splendour a household larger than that enforced upon
me. We walked in this direction, my companion talk-
ing fluently enough when once I had set her at ease,
and seemingly free from the shyness and timidity which
Eveena had at first displayed. She paused when we
reached a bridge that spanned the ditch dividing the
grounds from the farm, aware that, save on special in-
vitation, she might not, even in my company, go beyond
the former. I led her on, however, till soon after we
had crossed the ditch I saw a man approaching us. On
this, I desired Eunane to remain where she was, seating
her at the foot of a fruit tree in one of the orchard plots,
and proceeded to meet the stranger. After exchanging
the usual salute, he came immediately to the point.
" I thought," he said, " that you would not care your-
self to undertake the cultivation of so extensive an
estate. Indeed, the mere superintendence would occupy
the whole of one man's attention, and its proper culti-
vation would be the work of six or eight. I have had
some little experience in agriculture, and determined to
ask for this charge."
" And who has recommended you ? " I said. " Or
have you any sort of introduction or credentials to me ? "
He made a sign which I immediately recognised.
Caution, however, was imposed by the law to which
that sign appealed.
A Complete Establishment. 89
" You can read," I said, " by starlight ? "
" Better than by any other," he rejoined with a smile.
One or two more tokens interchanged left me no
doubt that the claim was genuine, and, of course, irre-
" Enough," I replied. " You may take entire charge
on the usual terms, which, doubtless, you know better
" You trust me then, absolutely ? " he said, in a tone
of some little surprise.
" In trusting you," I replied, " I trust the Zinta. I
am tolerably sure to be safe in hands recommended by
" You are right," he said, " and how right this will
prove to you," and he placed in my hand a small cake
upon which was stamped an impression of the signet
that I had seen on Esmo's wrist. When he saw that
I recognised it, he took it back, and, breaking it into
fragments, chewed and swallowed it.
" This," he said, " was given me to avouch the follow-
ing message: — Our Chiefs are informed that the Order
is threatened with a novel danger. Systematic per-
secution by open force or by law has been attempted
and defeated ages ago, and will hardly be tried again.
What seems to be intended now is the destruction of
our Chiefs, individually, by secret means — means which
it is supposed we shall not be able to trace to the insti-
gators, even if we should detect their instruments."
" But," I remarked, " those who have warned you of
the danger must know from whom it proceeds, and
those who are employed in such an attack must run
not only the ordinary risk of assassins, but the further
VOL. II. G
90 Across the Zodiac.
risk entailed by the peculiar powers of those they
" Those powers," he answered, " they do not under-
stand or recognise. The instruments, I presume, will
be encouraged by an assurance that the Courts are in
their favour, and by a pledge in the last resort that
they shall be protected. The exceptional customs of
our Order, especially their refusal to send their chil-
dren into the public Nurseries, mark out and identify
them ; and though our places of meeting are concealed
and have never been invaded, the fact that we do
meet and the persons of those who attend can hardly
" But," I asked, " if a charge of assassination is once
made and proved, how can the Courts refuse to do
justice ? Can the instigators protect the culprit with-
out committing themselves ? "
" They would appeal, I do not doubt, to a law,
passed many ages ago with a special regard to ourselves,
but which has not been applied for a score of centu-
ries, putting the members of a secret religious society
beyond the pale of legal protection. That we shall
ultimately find them out and avenge ourselves, you
need not doubt. But in the meantime every known
dissentient from the customs of the majority is in
danger, and persons of note or prominence especially
so. Next to Esmo and his son, the husband of his
daughter is, perhaps, in as much peril as any one. No
open attempt on your life will be adventured at
present, while you retain the favour of the Carnpta.
But you have made at least one mortal and powerful
enemy, and you may possibly be the object of well-
A Complete Establishment. 9 1
considered and persistent schemes of assassination.
On the other hand, next to our Chief and his son, you
have a paramount claim on the protection of the Order ;
and those who with me will take charge of your affairs
have also charge to watch vigilantly over your life.
If you will trust me beforehand with knowledge of all
your movements, I think your chief peril will lie in
the one sphere upon which we cannot intrude — your
own household ; and Clavelta directs your own special
attention to this quarter. Immediate danger can
scarcely threaten you as yet, save from a woman's
" Poison ? "
" Probably," he returned coolly. " But of the details
of the plot our Council are, I believe, as absolutely
ignorant as of the quarter from which it proceeds."
"And how," I inquired, "can it be that the witness
who has informed you of the plot has withheld the
names, without which his information is so imperfect,
and serves rather to alarm than to protect us ? "
"You know," he replied, "the kind of mysterious
perception to which we can resort, and are probably
aware how strangely lucid in some points, how strangely
darkened in others, is the vision that does not depend
on ordinary human senses ? "
As we spoke we had passed Eunane once or twice,
walking backwards and forwards along the path near
which she sat. As my companion was about to con-
tinue, we were so certainly within her hearing that I
" Take care," I said ; " I know nothing of her except
the Campta's choice, and that she is not of us."
92 Across the Zodiac.
He visibly started.
" I thought," he said, " that the witness of our conver-
sation was one at least as reliable as yourself. I forgot
how it happened that you have diverged from the pru-
dence which forbids our brethren to admit to their
households aliens from the Order and possible spies on
" Of whom do you speak as Clavelta ? " I asked. " I
was not even aware that the Order had a single head."
" The Signet," replied my friend in evident surprise,
" should have distinguished the Arch-Enlightener to
duller sight than yours."
We had not spoken, of course, till we were again
beyond hearing ; but my companion looked round care-
fully before he proceeded —
" You will understand the better, then, how strong is
your own claim upon the care of your brethren, and
how confidently you may rely upon their vigilance and
" I should regret," I answered, " that their lives should
be risked for mine. In dangers like those against which
you could protect me, I have been accustomed from boy-
hood to trust my own right hand. But the fear of secret
assassination has often unnerved the bravest men, and I
will not say that it may not disturb me."
" For you," he answered, " personally we should care
as for one of our brethren exposed to especial danger.
For him who saved the descendant of our Founder, and
who in her right, after her father and brother, would be
the guardian, if not the head, of the only remaining
family of his lineage, one and all of us are at need
bound to die."
A Complete Establishment. 93
After a few more words we parted, and I rejoined
Eunane, and led her back towards the house. I had
learnt to consider taciturnity a matter of course, except
where there was actual occasion for speech ; but Eunane
had chattered so fluently and frankly just before, that
her absolute silence might have suggested to me the
possibility that she had heard and was pondering things
not intended for her knowledge, had I been less pre-
occupied. Enured to the perils of war, of the chase,
of Eastern diplomacy, and of travel in the wildest parts
of the Earth, I do not pretend indifference to the fear of
assassination, and especially of poison. Cromwell, and
other soldiers of equal nerve and clearer conscience, have
found their iron courage sorely shaken by a peril against
which no precautions were effective and from which
they could not enjoy an hour's security. The incessant
continuous strain on the nerves is, I suppose, the chief
element in the peculiar dread with which brave men
have regarded this kind of peril; as the best troops
cannot endure to be under fire in their camp. Weigh-
ing, however, the probability that girls who had been
selected by the Sovereign, and had left their Nursery only
to pass directly into my house, could have been already
bribed or seduced to become the instruments of mur-
derous treachery, I found it but slight ; and before we
reached the house I had made up my mind to discard
the apprehensions or precautions recommended to me
on their account. Far better, if need be, to die by
poison than to live in hourly terror of it. Better to be
murdered than to suspect of secret treason those with
whom I must maintain the most intimate relations, and
whose sex and years made it intolerable to believe them
94 si cross the Zodiac.
criminal. I dismissed the thought, then ; and helieving
that I had prohably wronged them in allowing it to
dwell for a moment in my mind, I felt perhaps more
tenderly than before towards them, and certainly indis-
posed to name to Eveena a suspicion of which I was
myself ashamed. Perhaps, too, youth and beauty
weighed in my conclusion more than cool reason would
have allowed. A Martial proverb says —
" Trust a foe, and you may rue it ;
Trust a friend, and perish through it.
Trust a woman if you will ; —
Thrice betrayed, you'll trust her still."
As to the general warning, I was wishful to consult
Eveena, and unwilling to withhold from her any secret
of my thoughts ; but equally averse to disturb her with
alarms that were trying even to nerves seasoned by the
varied experience of twenty years against every open
( 95 )
LIFE, SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC.
As we approached the house I caught sight of Eveena's
figure among the party gathered on the roof. She had
witnessed the interview, but her habitual and con-
scientious deference forbade her to ask a confidence
not volunteered ; and she seemed fully satisfied when,
on the first occasion on which we were alone, I told her
simply that the stranger belonged to the Zinta and had
been recommended by her father himself to the charge
of my estate. Though reluctant to disturb her mind
with fears she could not shake off as I could, and which
would make my every absence at least a season of
terror, the sense of insecurity doubtless rendered me
more anxious to enjoy whenever possible the only
society in which it was permissible to be frank and off
my guard. No man in his senses would voluntarily
have accepted the position which had been forced upon
me. The Zveltau never introduce aliens into their
households. Their leading ideas and fundamental
principles so deeply affect the conduct of existence,
the motives of action, the bases of all moral reasoning
— so completely do the inferences drawn from them
and the habits of thought to which they lead pervade
and tinge the mind, conscience, and even language —
96 Across the Zodiac.
that though it may he easy to " live in the light at
home and walk with the blind abroad," yet in the
familiar intercourse of household life even a cautious
and reserved man (and I was neither) must betray to
the keen instinctive perceptions of women whether he
thought and felt like those around him, or was trans-
lating different thoughts into an alien language. This
difficulty is little felt between unbelievers and Christians.
The simple creed of the Zinta, however, like that of the
Prophet, affects the thought and life as the complicated
and subtle mj'steries of more elaborate theologies, more
refined philosophic systems rarely do.
One of Eveena's favourite quotations bore the un-
mistakable stamp of Zveltic mysticism : —
" Symbols that invert the sense
Form the Seal of Providence ;
Contradiction gives the key,
Time unlocks the mystery."
The danger in which my relation to the Zinta and its
chief involved me, and the presence of half a dozen
rivals to Eveena — rivals also to that regard for the
Star which at first I felt chiefly for her sake — likely as
they seemed to impair the strength and sweetness of
the tie between us, actually worked to consolidate and
endear it. To enjoy, except on set occasions, without
constant liability to interruption, Eveena's sole society
was no easy matter. To conceal our real secret, and
the fact that there was a secret, was imperative.
Avowedly exclusive confidence, conferences from which
the rest of the household were directly shut out, would
have suggested to their envious tempers that Eveena
played the spy on them, or influenced and advised the
Life, Social and Domestic. 97
exercise of my authority. To be alone with her, there-
fore, as naturally and necessarily I must often wish to
be, required manoeuvres and arrangements as delicate
and difficult, though as innocent, as those employed by
engaged couples under the strict conventions of Euro-
pean household usage ; and the comparative rarity of
such interviews, and the manner in which they had
often to be contrived beforehand, kept alive in its
earliest freshness the love which, if not really dimi-
nished, generally loses somewhat of its first bloom and
delicacy in the unrestrained intercourse of marriage.
Absolutely and solely trusted, assured that her com-
pany was eagerly sought, and at least as deeply valued
as ever — compelled by the ideas of her race to accept
the situation as natural and right, and wholly incapable
of the pettier and meaner forms of jealousy — Eveena
was fully content and happy in her relations with me.
That, on the whole, she was not comfortable, or at least
much less so than during our suddenly abbreviated
honeymoon, was apparent; but her loss of brightness
and cheerfulness was visible chiefly in her weary and
downcast looks on any occasion when, after being absent
for some hours from the house, I came upon her un-
awares. In my presence she was always calm and
peaceful, kind, and seemingly at ease ; and if she saw
or heard me on my return, though she carefully avoided
any appearance of eagerness to greet me sooner than
others, or to claim especial attention, she ever met me
with a smile of welcome as frank and bright as a young
bride on Earth could give to a husband returning to
her sole society from a long day of labour for her sake.
In so far as compliance was possible I was compelled
98 Across the Zodiac.
to admit the wisdom of Eveena's plea that no open
distinction should be made in her favour. Except in
the simple fact of our affection, there was no assignable
reason for making her my companion more frequently
than Eunane or Eivc. Except that I could trust her
completely, there was no distinction of age, social rank,
or domestic relation to afford a pretext for exempting
her from restraints which, if at first I thought them
senseless and severe, were soon justified by experience
of the kind of domestic control which just emanci-
pated school-girls expected and required. Nor would
she accept the immunity tacitly allowed her. It
was not that any established custom or right bounded
the arbitrary power of domestic autocracy. The
right of all but unbounded wrong, the liberty of
limitless caprice, is unquestionably vested in the head
of the household. But the very completeness of the
despotism rendered its exercise impossible. Force
cannot act where there is no resistance. The sword of
the Plantagenet could cleave the helmet but not the
quilt of down. I could do as I pleased without in-
fringing any understanding or giving any right to
"But," said Eveena, "you have a sense of justice
which has nothing to do with law or usage. Even your
language is not ours. You think of right and wrong,
where we should speak only of what is or is not punish-
able. You can make a favourite if you will pay the
price. Could you endure to be hated in your own home,
or I to know that you deserved it ? Or, if you could,
could you bear to see me hated and my life made
miserable ? "
Life, Social and Domestic. 99
" They dare not ! " I returned angrily ; fearing that
they had dared, and that she had already felt the spite
she was so careful not to provoke.
" Do you think that feminine malice cannot contrive
to envenom a dozen stings that I could not explain if I
would, and you could not deal with if I did ? "
" But," I replied, " it seems admitted that there is no
such thing as right or custom. As Enva said, I have
bought and paid for them, and may do what I please
within the contract ; and you agree that that is just
what any other man in this world would do."
" Yes," returned Eveena, " and I watched your face
while Enva spoke. How did you like her doctrine ?
Of course you may do as you please — if you can please.
You may silence discontent, you may suppress spiteful
innuendos and even sulky looks, you may put down
mutiny, by sheer terror. Can you ? You may com-
mand me to go with you whenever you go out ; you
may take the same means to make me complain of
unkindness as to make them conceal it ; you may act
like one of our own people, if you can stoop to the level
of their minds. But we both know that you can do
nothing of the kind. How could you bear to be driven
into unsparing and undeserved severity, who can hardly
bring yourself to enforce the discipline necessary to
peace and comfort on those who will only be ruled by
fear and would like you better if they feared you more ?
Did you hear the proverb Leenoo muttered, very un-
justly, when she left your room yesterday, 'A favourite
wears out many sandals ' ? No ! You see the very
phrase wounds and disgusts you. But you would find
it a true one. Can you take vengeance for a fault you
ioo Across the Zodiac.
have yourself provoked ? Can you decide without
inquiry, condemn without evidence, punish without
hearing ? Men do these things, of course, and women
expect them. But you — I do not say you would be
ashamed so to act — you cannot do it, any more than
you can breathe the air of our snow-mountains."
" At all events, Eveena, I no more dare do it in your
presence than I dare forswear the Faith we hold in
But whatever Eveena might exact or I concede, the
distinction between the wife who commanded as much
respect as affection, and the girls who could at best be
pets or playthings, was apparent against our will in
every detail of daily life and domestic intercourse. It
was alike impossible to treat Eveena as a child and to
rule Enva or Eirale as other than children. It was as
unnatural to use the tone of command or rebuke to one
for whom my unexpressed wishes were absolute law, as
to observe the form of request or advice in directing or
reproving those whose obedience depended on the con-
sequences of rebellion. It only made matters worse
that the distinction corresponded but too accurately to
their several deserts. No faults could have been so
irritating to Eveena's companions as her undeniable
The ludicrous aspect of my relation to the rest of the
household was even more striking than I had expected.
That I should find myself in the absurd position of a
man entrusted with the direct personal government of
half-a-dozen young ladies was even " more truly spoke
than meant." One at least among them might singly
have made in time a not unlovable wife, and all, per-
Life, Social and Domestic. 101
haps, might severally and separately have been reduced
to conjugal complaisance. Collectively, they were, as
Eveena had said, a set of school-girls, and school-girls
used to stricter restraint and much sharper discipline
than those of a French or Italian convent. They
would have made life a burden to a vigorous Eng-
lish schoolmistress, and imperilled the soul of any
Lady- Abbess whose list of permissible penances ex-
cluded the dark cell and the scourge. Fortunately for
both parties, I had the advantage of governess and
Superior in the natural awe which girls feel for the
authority of manhood — till they have found out of what
soft fibre men are made — and in the artificial fear
inspired by domestic usage and tradition. For I was
soon aware that even on its ridiculous side the relation
was not to be trifled with. The simple indifference a
man feels towards the escapades of girlhood was not
applicable to women and wives, who yet lacked womanly
sense and the feeling of conjugal duty. This serious
aspect of their position soon contracted the indulgence
naturally conceded to youth's heedlessness and animal
spirits. These, displayed at first only in the energy
and eagerness of their every movement within the
narrow limits of conventional usage, broke all bounds
when, after one or two half-timid, half-venturous ex-
periments on my patience, they felt that they had, at
least for the moment, exchanged the monotony, the
mechanical routine, the stern repression of their life in
the great Xurseries, not for the harsh household dis-
cipline to which they naturally looked forward, but for
the " loosened zone " which to them seemed to promise
absolute liberty. When not immediately in my
102 Across the Zodiac.
presence or Eveena's, their keen enjoyment of a life so
new, the sudden development of the brighter side of
their nature under circumstances that gave play to tin;
vigorous vitality of youth, gave as much pleasure to me
as to themselves. But in contact with myself or Eveena
they were women, and showed only the wrong side of
the varied texture of womanhood. To the master they
were slaves, each anxious to attract his notice, win his
preference ; before the favourite, spiteful, envious of her
and of each other, bitter, malicious, and false. Eor
Eveena's sake, it was impossible to look on with indolent
indifference on freaks of temper which, childish in the
form they assumed, were envenomed by the deliberate
dislike and unscrupulous cunning of jealous women.
But even on the childish side of their character and
conduct, they soon displayed a determination to test 1 >y
actual experiment the utmost extent of the liberty
allowed, and the nature and sufficiency of its limits.
Eunane was always the most audacious trespasser and
representative rebel. Fortunately for her, the daring
which had bewildered and exasperated feminine guar-
dians rather amused and interested me, giving some
variety and relief to the monotonous absurdity of the
situation. Nothing in her conduct was more remark-
able or more characteristic than the simplicity and
good temper with which she generally accepted as of
course the less agreeable consequences of her out-
breaks ; unless it were the sort of natural dignity with
which, when she so pleased, the game played out and its
forfeit paid, the naughty child subsided into the lively
but rational companion, and the woman simply ignored
the scrapes of the school-girl.
Life, Social and Domestic. 103
As her character seemed to unfold, Eive's indivi-
duality became as distinctly parted from the rest as
Eunane's, though in an opposite direction. Compara-
tively timid and indolent, without their fulness of life,
she seemed to me little more than a child ; and she fell
with apparent willingness into that position, accepting
naturally its privileges and exemptions. She alone was
never in the way, never vexatious or exacting. Con-
tent with the notice that naturally fell to her share,
she obtained the more. Never intruding between
Eveena and myself, she alone was not wholly unwel-
come to share our accidental privacy when, in the peri-
style or the grounds, the others left us temporarily
alone. On such occasions she would often draw near
and crouch at my feet or by Eveena's side, curling her-
self like a kitten upon the turf or among the cushions,
often resting her little head upon Eveena's knee or
mine ; generally silent, but never so silent as to seem to
be a spy upon our conversation, rather as a favourite
child privileged, in consideration of her quietude and
her supposed harmlessness and inattention, to remain
when others are excluded, and to hear much to which
she is supposed not to listen. Having no special duties
of her own in the household, she would wait upon and
assist Eveena whenever the latter would accept her
attendance. "When the whole party were assembled, it
was her wont to choose her place not in the circle, still
less at my side — Eveena's title to the post of honour
on the left being uncontested, and Eunane generally
occupying the cushions on my right. But Eive\ lying
at our feet, would support herself on her arm between
my knee and Eunane's, content to attract my hand to
104 si cross the Zodiac.
play with her curls or stroke her head. Under such
encouragement she would creep on to my lap and rest
there, but seldom took any part in conversation, satis-
fied with the attention one pays half-consciously to a
child. A word that dropped from Enva, however, on
one occasion, obliged me to observe that it was in
Eveena's absence that Eive always seemed most fully
aware of her privileges and most lavish of her childlike
caresses. The kind of notice and affection she obtained
did not provoke the envy even of Leenoo or Eirale.
She no more affected to imitate Eveena's absolute devo-
tion than she ventured on Eunane's reckless petulance.
She kept my interest alive by the faults of a spoiled
child. Her freaks were always such as to demand im-
mediate repression without provoking serious displea-
sure, so that the temporary disgrace cost her little, and
the subsequent reconciliation strengthened her hold on
my heart. But with Eveena, or in her presence, Eive's
waywardness was so suppressed or controlled that
Eveena's perceptible coolness towards her — it was never
coldness or unkindness — somewhat surprised me.
Eew Martialists, when wealthy enough to hand over
the management of their property to others, care to in-
terfere, or even to watch its cultivation. This, how-
ever, to me was a subject of as much interest as any
other of the many peculiarities of Martial society, com-
merce, and industry, which it concerned me to investi-
gate and understand ; and when not otherwise employed,
I spent great part of my day in watching, and now and
then directing, the work that went on during the whole
of the sunlight, and not unfrequently during the night,
upon my farm. Davilo, the superintendent, had en-
Life, Social and Domestic. 105
gaged no fewer than eight subordinates, who, with the
assistance of the ambau, the carvee, and the electric
machines, kept every portion of the ground in the most
perfect state of culture. The most valuable part of the
produce consisted of those farinaceous fruits, growing
on trees from twenty to eighty feet in height, which
form the principal element of Martial food. Between
the tropics these trees yield ripe fruit twice a year,
during a total period of about three of our months —
perhaps for a hundred days. Various gourds, growing
chiefly on canes, hanging from long flexile stalks that
spring from the top of the stem at a height of from
three to eight feet, yield juice which is employed
partly in flavouring the various loaves and cakes
into which the flour is made, partly in the numerous
beverages (never allowed to ferment, and consequently
requiring to be made fresh every day), of which the
smallest Martial household has a greater variety than the
most luxurious palace of the East. The best are made
from hard-skinned fruits, whose whole pulp is liqui-
fied by piercing the rind before the fruit is fully ripe,
and closing the orifice with a wax-like substance, almost
exactly according to a practice common in different
parts of Asia. The drinks are made, of course, at home.
The farinaceous fruits are sold to the confectioners, who
take also a portion of the milk and all the meat sup-
plied by the pastures. Many choice fruits grow on
shrubs, ranging from the size of a large black currant
tree to that of the smallest gooseberry bush. Vines
growing along the ground bear clustering nuts, whose
kernels are sometimes as hard as that of a cocoa-nut,
sometimes almost as soft as butter. The latter with
VOL. II. H
106 Across the Zodiac.
the juicy fruits, are preserved if necessary for a whole
year in storehouses dug in the ground and lined with
concrete, in which, by chemical means, a temperature a
little above the freezing-point is steadily maintained at
very trivial cost. The number of dishes producible by
the mixture of these various materials, with the occa-
sional addition of meat, fish, and eggs, is enormous ;
and it is only when some particular compound is in
special favour with the master of the house that it
makes its appearance more than perhaps once in ten
days upon the same table. The invention of the con-
fectioners is exquisite and inexhaustible ; and every
table is supplied with a variety of dainties sufficient
for a feast in the most hospitable and wealthy house-
hold of Europe. Many of the smaller fruit-trees and
shrubs yield two crops in the year. The vegetables,
crisper, and of much more varied taste than the best
Terrestrial salads, sometimes possessing a flavour as
piquant as that of cinnamon or nutmeg, are gathered
continuously from one end of the year to the other.
The vines, tough and fibrous, supply the best and
strongest cordage used in Mars. For this purpose they
are dried, stripped, combed, and put through an ela-
borate process of manufacture, which, without weaken-
ing the fibres, renders them smooth, and removes the
knots in which they naturally abound. The twisted
cord of the nut-vine is almost as strong as a metallic
wire rope of half its measurement. There is another
purpose for which these fibres in their natural state are
employed. Simply dried and twisted, they form a
scourge as terrible as the Eussian knout or African cow-
hide, though of a different character — a scourge which,
Life, Social and Domestic. 107
even in its lightest form, reduces the wildest herd to
instant order ; and which, as employed on criminals, is
hardly less dreaded than that electric rack whereby
Martial science inflicts on every nerve a graduated
torture such as even ecclesiastical malignity has not
invented on Earth — such as I certainly will not place in
the hands of Terrestrial rulers.
All these crops are raised with marvellously little
human labour, the whole work of ploughing and sowing
being done by machinery, that of weeding and harvest-
ing chiefly by the carvee. The ambau climb the trees and
pick the fruit from the ends of the branches, which they
are also taught to pinch in, so that none grow so long
as to break with the weight of these creatures, as clever
and agile as the smaller monkeys, but almost as large
as an ordinary baboon. It must always be remembered
that, size for size, and cccteris paribus, all bodies, animate
and inanimate, on Mars weigh less than half as much
as they would on Earth. Eunane's blunder about the
carcard was not explained by any subsequent errors of
the ambau or carvee, which always selected the ripe fruit
with faultless skill, leaving the immature untouched,
and throwing aside in small heaps to manure the
ground the few that had been allowed to grow too ripe
for use. The sums paid from time to time into my
hands, received from the sales of produce, were far
greater than I could possibly spend in gratifying any
taste of my own ; and, as I presently found, the idea that
the surplus might indulge those of the ladies never
entered their minds.
Before we had been settled in our home for three
days Eveena had made two requests which I was well
10S Across the Zodiac.
pleased to grant. First, she entreated that I would
teach her one at least of the languages with which I
was familiar — a task of whose extreme difficulty she
had little idea. Compared with her native tongue, the
complication and irregularities of the simplest language
spoken on Earthare far more arbitrary and provoking than
seems the most difficult of ancient or Oriental tongues
to a Frenchman or Italian. In order to fulfil my promise
that she should assist me in recording my observations
and writing out my notes, I chose Latin. Unhappily for
her, I found myself as impatient and unsuccessful as I
was inexperienced in teaching ; and nothing but her ex-
quisite gentleness and forbearance could have made the
lessons otherwise than painful to us both. Well for me
that the "right to govern wrong" was to her a simple truth
— an inalienable marital privilege, to be met with that
unqualified submission which must have shamed the
worst temper into self-control. Eive on one occasion
made a similar request ; but besides that I realised
the convenience of a medium of communication under-
stood by ourselves alone, I had no inclination to expose
either my own temper or Eive's to the trial. Eveena's
second request came naturally from one whose favourite
amusement had been the raising and modification of
flowers. She asked to be entrusted with the charge of
the seeds I had brought from Earth, and to be per-
mitted to form a bed in the peristyle for the purpose
of the experiment. Though this disfigured the perfect
arrangement of the garden, I was delighted to have
so important and interesting a problem worked out by
hands so skilful and so careful. I should probably
have failed to rear a single plant, even had I been
Life, Social and Domestic. 109
familiar with those applications of electricity to the
purpose which are so extensively employed in Mars.
Eveena managed to produce specimens strangely
altered, sometimes stunted, sometimes greatly im-
proved, from about one-fourth of the seeds entrusted
to her; and among those with which she was most
brilliantly successful were some specimens of Turkish
roses, the roses of the attar, which I had obtained at
Stamboul. My admiration of her patience and plea-
sure in her success deeply gratified her ; and it was a
full reward for all her trouble when I suggested that
she should send to her sister Zevle a small packet of
each of the seeds with which she had succeeded. It
happened, however, that the few rose seeds had all
been planted ; and the flowers, though apparently
perfect, produced no seed of their own, probably
because they were not suited to the taste of the flower-
birds, and Eveena somehow forgot or failed to employ
the process of artificial fertilisation.
If anything could have fully reconciled my con-
science to the household relations in which I was
rather by weakness than by will inextricably entangled,
it would have been the certainty that by the sacrifice
Eveena had herself enforced on me, and which she
persistently refused to recognise as such, she alone
had suffered. True that I could not give, and could
hardly affect for the wives bestowed on me by another's
choice, even such love as the head of a Moslem house-
hold may distribute among as many inmates. But to
what I could call love they had never looked forward.
But for the example daily presented before their own
eyes they Avould no more have missed than they com-
1 10 Across the Zodiac.
prehendcd it. That they were happier than they had
expected, far happier than they would have been in
an ordinary home, happier certainly than in the schools
they had quitted, I could not doubt, and they did not
affect to deny. If my patience were not proof against
vexations the more exasperating from their pettiness,
and the sense of ridicule which constantly attached
to them, I could read in the manner of most and
understand from the words of Eunane, who seldom
hesitated to speak her mind, whether its utterances
were flattering or wounding, that she and her com-
panions found me not only far more indulgent, but
incomparably more just than they had been taught
to hope a man could be. Of justice, indeed, as con-
sisting in restraint on one's own temper and considera-
tion for the temper of others, Martial manhood is
incapable, or, at any rate, Martial womanhood never
suspects its masters.
Moreover, though no longer blest with the spirits
of youth, and finding little pleasure in what youth
calls pleasure, I had escaped the kind of satiety that
seems to attend lives more softly spent than mine had
been ; and found a very real and unfading enjoyment
in witnessing the keen enjoyment of these youthful
natures in such liberty as could be accorded and such
amusements as the life of this dull and practical world
Among these, two at least are closely similar to the
two favourite pleasures of European society. Music
appears to have been carried, like most arts and
sciences, to a point of mechanical perfection which,
I should suppose, like much of the artificial accuracy
Life, Social and Domestic. 1 1 1
and ease which civilisation lias introduced, mars
rather than enhances the natural gratification enjoyed
by simpler ages and races. Almost deaf to music as
distinguished from noise, I did not attempt to compre-
hend the construction of Martial instruments or the
nature of the concords they emitted. One only struck
me with especial surprise by a peculiarity which, if I
could not understand, I could not mistake. A number
of variously coloured flames are made to synchronise
with or actually emit a number of corresponding notes,
dancing to, or, more properly, weaving a series of
strangely combined movements in accord with the
music, whose vibrations were directly and inseparably
connected with their motion. But all music is the
work of professional musicians, never the occupation
of woman's leisure, never made more charming to the
ear by its association with the movement of beloved
hands or the tones of a cherished voice. Electric wires,
connected with the vast buildings wherein instruments
produce what sounds like fine choral singing as well
as musical notes, enable the householder to turn on at
pleasure music equal, I suppose, to the finest operatic
performances or the grandest oratorio, and listen to it
at leisure from the cushions of his own peristyle.
This was a great though not wholly new delight to
Eunane and most of her companions. Eor their sake
only would Eveena ever have resorted to it, for though
herself appreciating music not less highly, and educated
to understand it much more thoroughly, than they,
she could derive little gratification from that which
was clearly incomprehensible if not disagreeable to me
— could hardly enjoy a pleasure I could not share.
1 1 2 Across tlic Zodiac.
The theatre was a more prized and less common
indulgence. It is little frequented by the elder Mar-
tialists ; and not enjoying it themselves, they seldom
sacrifice their hours to the enjoyment of their women.
But it forms so important an aid to education, and
tends so much to keep alive in the public memory
impressions which policy will not permit to fade, that
both from the State and from the younger portion of
the community it receives an encouragement quite
sufficient to reward the few who bestow their time and
talent upon it. Great buildings, square or oblong in
form, the stage placed at one end, the arched boxes or
galleries from which the spectators look down thereon
rising tier above and behind tier to the further ex-
tremity, are constantly filled. There are no actors,
and Martial feeling would hardly allow the appear-
ance of women as actresses. But an art, somewhat
analogous to, but infinitely surpassing, that displayed in
the manipulation of the most skilfully constructed and
most complicated magic lanterns, enables the conductors
of the theatre to present upon the stage a truly living
and moving picture of any scene they desire to exhibit.
The figures appear perfectly real, move with perfect
freedom, and seem to speak the sounds which, in fact,
are given out by a gigantic hidden phonograph, into
which the several parts have long ago been carefully
spoken by male and female voices, the best suited to
each character; and which, by the reversal of its
motion, can repeat the original words almost for
ever, with the original tone, accent, and expres-
sion. The illusion is far more perfect than that ob-
tained by all the resources of stage management and
Life, Social and Domestic. 1 1 3
all the skill of the actor's art in the best theatres of
France. After the first novelty, the first surprise and
wonder were exhausted, I must confess that these
representations simply bored me, the more from their
length and character. But even Eveena enjoyed them
thoroughly, and my other companions prized an even-
ing or afternoon thus spent above all other indulgences.
A passage running along at the back of each tier
admits the spectator to boxes so completely private as
to satisfy the strictest requirements of Martial seclu-
The favourite scenes represent the most striking
incidents of Martial history, or realise the life, usages,
and manners of ages long gone by, before science and
invention had created the perfect but monotonous
civilisation that now prevails. One of the most inte-
resting performances I witnessed commenced with the
exhibition of a striking scene, in which the union of all
the various States that had up to that time divided the
planet's surface, and occasionally waged war on one
another, in the first Congress of the World, was realised
in the exact reproduction of every detail which historic
records have preserved. Afterwards was depicted the
confusion, declining into barbarism and rapid degrada-
tion, of the Communistic revolution, the secession of
the Zveltau and their merely political adherents, the
construction of their cities, fleets, and artillery, the
terrible battles, in which the numbers of the Com-
munists were hurled back or annihilated by the asphyx-
iator and the lightning gun; and finally, the most
remarkable scene in all Martial history, when the last
representatives of the great Anarchy, squalid, miserable,
1 1 4 Across the Zodiac.
degraded, and debased in form and features, as well as
indicating by their dress and appearance the utter ruin
of art and industry under their rule, came into the
presence of the chief ruler of the rising State — sur-
rounded by all the splendour which the "magic of
property," stimulating invention and fostering science,
had created — to entreat admission into the realm of
restored civilisation, and a share in the blessings they
had so deliberately forfeited and so long striven to deny
PR I VA TE A UDIENCES.
I spent my days between mist and mist, according to
the Martial saying, not infrequently in excursions more
or less extensive and adventurous, in which I could but
seldom ask Eveena's company, and did not care for any
other. Comparatively courageous as she had learned to
be, and free from all affectation of pretty feminine fear,
Eveena could never realise the practical immunity from
ordinary danger which a strength virtually double that
I had enjoyed on Earth, and thorough familiarity with
the dangers of travel, of mountaineering, and of the
chase, afforded me. When, therefore, I ventured among
the hills alone, followed the fishermen and watched their
operations, sometimes in terribly rough weather, from the
little open surface-boat which I could manage myself, I
preferred to give her no definite idea of my intentions.
Davilo, however, protested against my exposure to a
peril of which Eveena was happily as yet unaware.
" If your intentions are never known beforehand," he
said, " still your habit of going forth alone in places to
which your steps might easily be dogged, where you
might be shot from an ambush or drowned by a sudden
attack from a submarine vessel, will soon be pretty
generally understood, if, as I fear, a regular watch is set
1 1 6 Across the Zodiac.
upon your life. At least let me know what your inten-
tions are before starting, and make your absences as
irregular and sudden as possible. The less they are
known beforehand, even in your own household, the
" Is it midnight still in the Council Chamber ? " I
" Very nearly so. She who has told so much can tell
us no more. The clue that placed her in mental rela-
tions with the danger did not extend to its authorship.
We have striven hard to find in every conceivable direc-
tion some material key to the plot, some object which,
having been in contact with the persons of those we
suspect, probably at the time when their plans were
arranged, might serve as a link between her thoughts
and theirs ; but as yet unsuccessfully. Either her
vision is darkened, or the connection we have sought
to establish is wanting. But you know who is your
unsparing personal enemy ; and, after the Sovereign
himself, no man in this world is so powerful ; while the
Sovereign himself is, owing to the restraints of his posi-
tion, less active, less familiar with others, less acquainted
with what goes on out of his own sight. Again I say
we can avenge ; but against secret murder our powers
only avail to deter. If we would save, it must be by
the use of natural precautions."
What he said made me desirous of some conversation
with Eveena before I started on a meditated visit to the
Palace. If I could not tell her the whole truth, she
knew something; and I thought it possible on this
occasion so far to enlighten her as to consult with her
how the secret of my intended journeys should in future
Private Audiences. 1 1 7
be kept. But I found no chance of speaking to her
until, shortly before my departure, I wa3 called upon to
decide one of the childish disputes which constantly
disturbed my temper and comfort. Mere fleabites
they were ; but fleas have often kept me awake a whole
night in a Turkish caravanserai, and half-a-dozen mos-
quitos inside an Indian tent have broken up the sleep
earned on a long day's march or a sharply contested
battlefield. I need only say that I extorted at last
from Eveena a clear statement of the trifle at issue,
which flatly contradicted those of the four participants
in the squabble. She began to suggest a means of
proving the truth, and they broke into angry clamour.
Silencing them all peremptorily, I drew Eveena into
my own chamber, and, when assured that we were un-
heard, reproved her for proposing to support her own
word by evidence.
" Do you think," I said, " that any possible proof
would induce me to doubt you, or add anything to the
assurance I derive from your word ? "
"But," she urged, "that cannot be just to others.
They must feel it very hard that your love for me
makes you take all I say for truth."
" Not my love, but my knowledge. ' Be not right-
eous overmuch.' Don't forget that they Jcnoio the truth
as well as you."
I would hear no more, and passed to the matter I had
at heart. . . .
Earnestly, and in a sense sincerely, as upon my
second audience I had thanked the Campta for his
munificent gifts, no day passed that I would not thank-
fully have renounced the wealth he had bestowed if I
1 1 8 Across the Zodiac.
could at the same time have renounced what was, in
intention and according to Martial ideas, the most
gracious and most remarkable of his favours. On the
present occasion I thought for a moment that such renun-
ciation might have been possible.
The Prince had, after our first interview, observed
with regard to every point of my story on which I had
been carefully silent a delicacy of reserve very unusual
among Martialists, and quite unintelligible to his Court
and officers. To-day the conversation in public turned
again upon my voyage. Endo and another studiously
directed it to the method of steering, and the intentional
diminution of speed in my descent, corresponding to its
gradual increase at the commencement of the journey —
points at which they hoped to find some opening to the
mystery of the motive force. The Prince relieved me
from some embarrassment by requesting me as usual to
attend him to his private cabinet.
He said : — " I have not, as you must be aware, pressed
you to disclose a secret which, for some reason or other,
you are evidently anxious to preserve. Of course the
exclusive possession of a motive power so marvellous as
that employed in your voyage is of almost incalculable
pecuniary value, and it is perfectly right that you
should use your own discretion with regard to the time
and the terms of its communication."
" Pardon me," I interposed, " if I interrupt you, Prince,
to prevent any misconception. It is not with a view
to profit that I have carefully avoided giving any clue
whatever to my secret. Your munificence would render
it most ungrateful and unjust in me to haggle over the
price of any service I could render you ; and I should
Private Audiences. 119
Le greedy indeed if I desired greater wealth than you
have bestowed. If I may say so without offending, I
earnestly wish that you would permit me, by resigning
your gifts, to retain in my own eyes the right to keep
my secret without seeming undutiful or unthankful."
" I have said," he replied, " that on that point you
misconceive our respective positions. No one supposes
that you are indebted to us for anything more than it
was the duty of the Sovereign to give, as a mark of the
universal admiration and respect, to our guest from
another world ; still less could any imagine that on such
a trifle could be founded any claim to a secret so in-
valuable. You will offend me much and only if you
ever again speak of yourself as bound by personal obli-
gation to me or mine. But as we are wishful to buy,
so I cannot understand any reluctance on your part to
sell your secret on your own terms."
" I think, Prince," I replied, " that I have already
asked you what you would think of a subject of your
own, who should put such a power into the hands of
enemies as formidable to you as you would be to the
races of the Earth."
" And I thiuk," he rejoined with a smile, " that I
reminded you how little my judgment would matter to
one possessed of such a power. I have gathered from
your conversation how easily we might eoncpier a world
as far behind us in destructive powers as in general
civilisation. But why should you object ? You can
make your own terms both for yourself and for any of
your race for whom you feel an especial interest."
" A traitor is none the less a despicable and loathsome
wretch because his Prince cannot punish him. I am
1 20 Aci'oss the Zodiac.
bound by no direct tie of loyalty to any Terrestrial
sovereign. I was born the subject of one of the greatest
monarchs of the Earth ; I left his country at an early
age, and my youth was passed in the service of less
powerful rulers, to one at least of whom I long owed
the same military allegiance that binds your guards
and officers to yourself. But that obligation also is at
an end. Nevertheless, I cannot but recognise that I
owe a certain fealty to the race to which I belong, a
duty to right and justice. Even if I thought, which 1
do not think, that the Earth would be better governed
and its inhabitants happier under your rule, I should
have no right to give them up to a conquest I know
they would fiercely and righteously resist. If — pardon
me for saying it — you, Prince, would commit no com-
mon crime in assailing and slaughtering those who
neither have wronged nor can wrong you, one of them-
selves would be tenfold more guilty in sharing your
" You shall ensure," he replied, " the good government
of your own world as you will. You shall rule it with
all the authority possessed by the Kegents under me, and
by the laws which you think best suited to races very
different from our own. You shall be there as great
and absolute as I am here, paying only an obedience
to me and my successors which, at so immense a dis-
tance, can be little more than formal."
" Is it to acquire a merely formal power that a Prince
like yourself would risk the lives of your own people,
and sacrifice those of millions of another race ? "
" To tell you the truth/' lie replied, " I count on com-
manding the expedition myself, and perhaps I care more
Private Audiences. 1 2 1
for the adventure than for its fruits. You will not
expect me to be more chary of the lives of others than
of my own ? "
" I understand, and as a soldier could share, perhaps,
a feeling natural to a great, a capable, and an ambitious
Prince. But alike as soldier and subject it is my duty
to resist, not to aid, such an ambition. My life is at
your disposal, but even to save my life I could not
betray the lives of hundreds of millions and the future
of a whole world."
" I fail to understand you fully," he said, abandoning
with a sigh a hope that had evidently been the object
of long and eager day-dreams. " But in no case would
I try to force from you what you will not give or sell ;
and if you speak sincerely — and I suppose you must do
so, since I can see no motive but those you assign that
could induce you to refuse my offer — I must believe in
the existence of what I have heard of now and then but
deemed incredible — men who are governed by care for
other things than their own interests, who believe in
right and wrong, and would rather suffer injustice than
" You may be sure, Prince," I replied, perhaps
imprudently, " that there are such men in your own
world, though they are perhaps among those who are
least known and least likely to be seen at your
" If you know them," he said, " you will render me
no little service in bringing them to my knowledge."
" It is possible," I ventured to observe, " that their
distinguishing excellences are connected with other
distinctions which might render it a disservice to them
VOL. II. I
122 Across the Zodiac.
to indicate their peculiar character, I will not say to
yourself, but to those around you."
" I hardly understand you," he rejoined. " Take,
however, my assurance that nothing you say here shall,
without your own consent, be used elsewhere. It is no
light gratification, no trifling advantage to me, to find
one man who has neither fear nor interest that can
induce him to lie to me ; to whom I can speak, not as
sovereign to subject, but as man to man, and of whose
private conversation my courtiers and officials are not
yet suspicious or jealous. You shall never repent any
confidence you give to me."
My interest in and respect for the strange character
so manifestly suited for, so intensely weary of, the
grandest position that man could fill, increased with each
successive interview. I never envied that greatness
which seems to most men so enviable. The servitude
of a constitutional King, so often a puppet in the hands
of the worst and meanest of men — those who prostitute
their powers as rulers of a State to their interests as
chiefs of a faction — must seem pitiable to any rational
manhood. But even the autocracy of the Sultan or the
Czar seems ill to compensate the utter isolation of the
throne ; the lonely grandeur of one who can hardly
have a friend, since he can never have an equal, among
those around him. I do not wonder that a tinge of
inelancholo-mania is so often perceptible in the chiefs
of that great House whose Oriental absolutism is only
" tempered by assassination." But an Earthly sovereign
may now and then meet his fellow-sovereigns, whether
as friends or foes, on terms of frank hatred or loyal
openness. His domestic relations, though never secure
Priva te A udiences. 1 2 3
unci simple as those of other men, may relieve him at
times from the oppressive sense of his sublime solitude ;
and to his wife, at any rate, he may for a few minutes
or hours be the husband and not the king. But the
absolute Euler of this lesser world had neither equal
friends nor open foes, neither wife nor child. How
natural then his weariness of his own life ; how inevit-
able his impatient scorn of those to whom that life was
devoted! A despot not even accountable to God — a
Prince who, till he conversed with me, never knew that
the universe contained his equal or his like — it spoke
much, both for the natural strength and soundness of
his intellect and for the excellence of his education, that
he was so sane a man, so earnest, active, and just a
ruler. His reign was signalised by a better police, a
more even administration of justice, a greater efficiency,
judgment, and energy in the execution of great works
of public utility, than his realm had know r n for a
thousand years ; and his duty was done as diligently
and conscientiously as if he had knowm that conscience
was the voice of a supreme Sovereign, and duty the
law of an unerring and unescapable Lawgiver. Alone
among a race of utterly egotistical cowards, he had the
courage of a soldier, and the principles, or at least the
instincts, worthy of a Child of the Star. With him
alone could I have felt a moment's security from savage
attempts to extort by terror or by torture the secret I
refused to sell ; and I believe that his generous absti-
nence from such an attempt was as exasperating as it
was incomprehensible to his advisers, and chiefly con-
tributed to involve him in the vengeance which bailled
greed and humbled personal pride had leagued to wreak
1 24 Across the Zodiac,
upon myself, as on those with whose welfare and safety
my own were inextricably intertwined. It was a for-
tunate, if not a providential, combination of circum-
stances that compelled the enemies of the Star, primarily
on my account, to interweave with their scheme of
murderous persecution and private revenge an equally
ruthless and atrocious treason against the throne ami
person of their Monarch.
My audience had detained me longer than I had
expected, and the evening mist had fairly closed in
before I returned. Entering, not as usual through the
grounds and the peristyle, but by the vestibule and my
own chamber, and hidden by my half-open window, I
overheard an exceedingly characteristic discussion on
the incident of the morning.
" Serve her right ! " Leenoo was saying. " That she
should for once get the worst of it, and be disbelieved
to sharpen the sting ! "
" How do you know ? " asked Enva. " I don't feel
so sure we have heard the last of it."
" Eveena did not seem to have liked her half-hour,"
answered Leenoo spitefully. " Besides, if he did not
disbelieve her story, he would have let her prove it."
" Is that your reliance ? " broke in Eunane. " Then
you arc swinging on a rotten branch. I would not
believe my ears if, for all that all of us could invent
against her, I heard him so much as ask Eveena, ' Are
you speaking the truth ? ' "
" It is very uneven measure," muttered Enva.
" Uneven ! " cried Eunane. " Now, I think / have
the best right to be jealous of her place ; and it does
sting me that, when he takes me for his companion out
Private A udie?ices. 125
of doors, or makes most of me at home, it is so plain
that he is taking trouble, as if he grudged a soft word
or a kiss to another as something stolen from her. But
he deals evenly, after all. If he were less tender of her
we should have to draw our zones tighter. But he won't
give us the chance to say, ' Teach the arriba with stick
and the esve with sugar.' "
" I do say it. She is never snubbed or silenced ; and
if she has had worse than what he calls ' advice ' to-day,
I believe it is the first time. She has never ' had cause
to wear the veil before the household ' [to hide blushes
or tears], or found that his ' lips can give sharper sting
than their kiss can heal,' like the rest of us."
" What f or ? If he wished to find her in fault he
would have to watch her dreams. Do you expect him
to be harder to her than to us ? He don't ' look for
stains with a microscope.' None of us can say that
he ' drinks tears for taste.' None of us ever ' smarted
because the sun scorched him.' Would you have him
' tie her hands for being white ' ? " [punish her for per-
" She is never at fault because he never believes us
against her," returned Leenoo.
" How often would he have been right ? I saw
nothing of to-day's quarrel, but I know beforehand
where the truth lay. I tell you this: he hates the
sandal more than the sin, but, strange as it seems, he
hates a falsehood worse still; and a falsehood against
Eveena If you want to feel ' how the spear-grass
cuts when the sheath bursts,' let him find you out in an
experiment like this ! You congratulate yourself, Leenoo,
that you have got her into trouble. Elncrve that you
126 Across the Zodiac.
are! — if you have, you had Letter have poisoned his
cup before his eyes. For every tear he sees her shed he
will reckon with us at twelve years' usury."
" You have made her shed some," retorted Knva.
"Yes," said Eunane, "and if he knew it, I should
like half a year's penance in the black sash" [as the
black sheep or scapegoat of her Nursery] "better than
my next half-hour alone with him. When I was silly
enough to tie the veil over her mouth " [take the lead
in sending her to Coventry] " the day after we came
here, I expected to pay for it, and thought the fruit
worth the scratches. But when he came in that
evening, nodded and spoke kindly to us, but with his
eyes seeking for her ; when he saw her at last sitting
yonder with her head down, I saw how his face darkened
at the very idea that she was vexed, and I thought the
flash was in the cloud. When she sprang up as he
called her, and forced a smile before he looked into her
face, I wished I had been as ugly as Minnoo, that I
might have belonged to the miserliest, worst-tempered
man living, rather than have so provoked the giant."
" But what did he do ? "
" Well that he don't hear you ! " returned Eunane.
"But I can answer ; — nothing. I shivered like a lcrch><>
in the wind when he came into my room, but I heard
nothing about Eveena. I told Eiv6 so next day — you
remember Eive would have no part with us ? ' And
you were called the cleverest girl in )^our Nursery ! '
she said; ' you have just tied your own hands and given
your sandal into Eveena's. Whenever she tells him,
you will drink the cup she chooses to mix for you, and
very salt you will find it.' "
Private Audiences. i 27
" Crach /" (tush or stuff), said Eirale contemptuously.
" We have ' filled her robe with pins ' for half a year
since then, and she has never been able to make him
count them." •
"Able!" returned Eunane sharply, "do you know
no better ? Well, I chose to fancy she was holding this
over me to keep me in her power. One day she spoke
— choosing her words so carefully — to warn me how I
was sure to anger Clasfempta" (the master of the house-
hold) " by pushing my pranks so often to the verge of
safety and no farther. I answered her with a taunt,
and, of course, that evening I was more perverse than
ever, till even he could stand it no longer. "When he
' More lightly treat whom haste or heat to headlong trespass urge ;
The heaviest sandals fit the feet that ever tread the verge" —
I was well frightened. I saw that the bough had
broken short of the end, and that for once Clasfempta
could mean to hurt. But Eveena kept him awhile, and
when he came to me, she had persuaded him that I was
only mischievous, not malicious, teasing rather than
trespassing. But his last words showed that he was not
so sure of that. ' I have treated you this time as a child
whose petulance is half play ; but if you would not have
your teasing returned with interest, keep it clipped ;
and — keep it for me! I have often tormented her since
then, but I could not for shame help you to spite her."
" Crach ! " said Enva. " Eveena might think it wise
to make friends with you ; but would she bear to be
slighted and persecuted a whole summer if she could
help herself ? You know that —
1 28 Across the Zodiac.
" Man's control in woman's hand
Sorest tries the household hand.
Closer favourite's kisses cling,
Favourite's fingers sharper sting. ' "
"Very likely," replied Eunane. "I cannot under-
stand any more than you can why Eveena screens
instead of punishing us ; why she endures what a word
to him would put down under her sandal ; but she
does. Does she cast no shadow because it never
darkens his presence to us ? And after all, her mind
is not a deeper darkness to me than his. He enjoys
life as no man here does ; but what he enjoys most is a
good chance of losing it ; while those who find it so
tedious guard it like watch-dragons. When the number
of accidents made it difficult to fill up the Southern
hunt at any price, the Camptas refusal to let him go
so vexed him that Eveena was half afraid to show her
sense of relief. You would think he liked pain — the
scars of the kargynda are not his only or his deepest
ones — if he did not catch at every excuse to spare it.
And, again, why does he speak to Eveena as to the
Campta, and to us as to children — ' child ' is his softest
word for us ? Then, he is patient where you expect no
mercy, and severe where others would laugh. When
Enva let the electric stove overheat the water, so that
he was scalded horribly in his bath, we all counted that
he would at least have paid her back the pain twice
over. But as soon as Eveena and Eive had arranged
the bandages, he sent for her. We could scarcely bring
you to him, Enva ; but he put out the only hand he
could move to stroke your hair as he does Eive's, and
spoke for once with real tenderness, as if you were the
Private Audiences. 129
person to be pitied ! Any one else would have laughed
heartily at the figure her esve made with half her tail
pulled out. But not all Eveena's pleading could obtain
pardon for me."
" That was caprice, not even dealing," said Leenoo.
" You were not half so bad as Enva."
" He made me own that I was," replied Eunane.
" It never occurred to him to suppose or say that she
did it on purpose. But I was cruel on purpose to the
bird, if I were not spiteful to its mistress. ' Don't you
feel/ he said, ' that intentional cruelty is what no ruler,
whether of a household or of a kingdom, has a right to
pass over ? If not, you can hardly be fit for a charge
that gives animals into your power.' I never liked
him half so well ; and I am sure I deserved a severer
lesson. Since then, I cannot help liking them both ;
though it is mortifying to feel that one is nothing before
" It is intolerable," said Enva bitterly ; " / detest
'•' Is it her fault ? " asked Eunane with some warmth.
" They are so like each other and so unlike us, that I
could fancy she came from his own world. I went to
her next day in her own room."
" Ay," interjected Leenoo with childish spite, " ' kiss
the foot and 'scape the sandal.' "
" Think so," returned Eunane quietly, " if you like.
I thought I owed her some amends. "Well, she had her
bird in her lap, and I think she was crying over it.
But as soon as she saw me she put it out of sight. I
began to tell her how sorry I was about it, but she
would not let me go on. She kissed me as no one ever
1 30 Across the Zodiac.
kissed me since my school friend Erme died three years
ago ; and she cried more over the trouble I had brought
on myself than over her pet. And since then," Eunane
went on with a softened voice, " she has showed me
how pretty its ways are, how clever it is, how fond of
her, and she tries to make it friends with me. . . .
Sometimes I don't wonder she is so much to him and
he to her. She was brought up in the home where she
was born. Her father is one of those strange people ;
and I fancy there is something between her and Clas-
fempta more than ..."
I could not let this go on ; and stepping back from
the window as if I had but just returned, I called
Eunaue by name. She came at once, a little surprised
at the summons, but suspecting nothing. But the first
sight of my face startled her; and when, on the
impulse of the moment, I took her hands and looked
straight into her eyes, her quick intelligence perceived
at once that I had heard at least part of the conver-
" Ah," she said, flushing and hanging her head, " I
am caught now, but " — in a tone half of relief — " I
deserve it, and I won't pretend to think that you are
angry only because Eveena is your favourite. You
would not allow any of us to be spited if you could
help it, and it is much worse to have spited her."
I led her by the hand across the peristyle into her
own chamber, and when the window closed behind us,
drew her to my side.
" So you would rather belong to the worst master of
your own race than to me ? "
"Not now," she answered. "That was my first
Private Audiences. 131
thought when I saw how you felt for Eveena, and
knew how angry you would be when you found how
we — I mean how I — had used her, and I remembered
how terribly strong you were. I know you better now.
It is for women to strike with five fingers " (in un-
measured passion) ; " only, don't tell Eveena. Be-
sides," she murmured, colouring, with drooping eyelids,
" I had rather be beaten by you than caressed by
" Eunane, child, you might well say you don't under-
stand me. I could not have listened to your talk if I
had meant to use it against you ; and with you I have
no cause to be displeased. Nay " (as she looked up in
surprise), " I know you have not used Eveena kindly,
but I heard from yourself that you had repented.
That she, who could never be coaxed or compelled to
say what made her unhappy, or even to own that I
had guessed it truly, has fully forgiven you, you don't
need to be told."
"Indeed, I don't understand," the girl sobbed.
" Eveena is always so strangely soft and gentle — she
would rather suffer without reason than let us suffer
who deserve it. But just because she is so kind, you
must feel the more bitterly for her. Besides," she
went on, " I was so jealous — as if you could compare
me with her — even after I had felt her kindness. No !
you cannot forgive for her, and you ought not."
" Child," I answered, sadly enough, for my conscience
was as ill at ease as hers, with deeper cause, " I don't
tell you that your jealousy was not foolish and your
petulance culpable ; but I do say that neither Eveena
nor I have the heart — perhaps I have not even the
1 32 Across the Zodiac.
right — to blame you. It is true that I love Eveena as
I can love no other in this world or my own. How
well she deserves that love none but I can know. So
loving her, I would not willingly have brought any
other woman into a relation which could make her
dependent upon or desirous of such love as I cannot
give. You know how this relation to you and the
others was forced upon me. When I accepted it,
I thought I could give you as much affection as you
would find elsewhere. How far and why I wronged
Eveena is between her and myself. I did not think
that I could be wronging you."
Very little of this was intelligible to Eunane. She
felt a tenderness she had never before received ; but
she could not understand my doubt, and she replied
only to my last words.
" Wrong us ! How could you ? Did we ask whether
you had another wife, or who would be your favourite ?
Did you promise to like us, or even to be kind to us ?
You might have neglected us altogether, made one girl
your sole companion, kept all indulgences, all favours,
for her ; and how would you have wronged us ? If you
had turned on us when she vexed you, humbled us to
gratify her caprice, ill-used us to vent your temper,
other men would have done the same. Who else would
have treated us as you have done ? Who would have
been careful to give each of us her share in every plea-
sure, her turn in every holiday, her employment at
home, her place in your company abroad ? Who would
have inquired into the truth of our complaints and
the merits of our quarrels ; would have made so many
excuses for our faults, given us so many patient warn-
Private A udiences. 133
ings ? . . . Wronged us ! There may be some of us
who don't like you ; there is not one who could bear to
be sent away, not one who would exchange this house
for the palace of the Campta though you pronounce
him kingly in nature as in power."
She spoke as she believed, if she spoke in error.
" If so, my child, why have you all been so bitter
against Eveena ? Why have you yourself been jealous
of one who, as you admit, has been a favourite only in
a love you did not expect ? "
" But we saw it, and we envied her so much love, so
much respect," she replied frankly. " And for myself,"
— she coloured, faltered, and was silent.
" For yourself, my child ? "
" I was a vain fool," she broke out impetuously.
" They told me that I was beautiful, and clever, and
companionable. I fancied I should be your favourite,
and hold the first place ; and when I saw her, I would
not see her grace and gentleness, or observe her soft
sweet voice, and the charms that put my figure and
complexion to shame, and the quiet sense and truth
that were worth twelvefold my quickness, my memory,
and my handiness. I was disappointed and mortified
that she should be preferred. Oh, how you must hate
me, Clasfempta; for I hate myself while I tell you
what I have been ! "
According to European doctrine, my fealty to Eveena
must then have been in peril. And yet, warmly as I
felt for Eunane, the element in her passionate confes-
sion that touched me most was her recognition of
Eveena's superiority; and as I soothed and comforted
the half-childish penitent, I thought how much it would
134 Across the Zodiac.
please Eveena that I bad at last come to an under-
standing with the companion she avowedly liked the
11 ] hit, Eimane," I said at last, " do you remember
what you were saying when I called you — called you
on purpose to stop you ? You said that there was
something between Eveena and myself more than —
more than what ? What did you mean ? Speak
frankly, child; I know that this time you were not
going to scald me on purpose."
" I don't know quite what I meant," she replied
simply. " But the first time you took me out, I heard
the superintendent say some strange things ; and then
he checked himself when he found your companion
was not Eveena. Then Eive — I mean — you use ex-
pressions sometimes in talking to Eveena that we never
heard before. I think there is some secret between
" And if there be, Eunane, were you going to betray
it — to set Enva and Leenoo on to find it out ? "
" I did not think," she said. " I never do think
before I get into trouble. I don't say, forgive me this
time ; but I will hold my tongue for the future."
By this time our evening meal was ready. As I led
Eunane to her place, Eveena looked up with some little
surprise. It was rarely that, especially on returning
from absence, I had sought any other company than
hers. But there was no tinge of jealousy or doubt in
her look. On the contrary, as, with her entire compre-
hension of every expression of my face, and her quick-
ness to read the looks of others, she saw in both coun-
tenances that we were on better terms than ever before,
her own brightened at the thought. As I placed my-
self beside her, she stole her hand unobserved into
mine, and pressed it as she whispered —
" You have found her out at last. She is half a child
as yet ; but she has a heart — and perhaps the only one
" The four," as I called them, looked up as we ap-
proached with eager malice : — bitterly disappointed,
when they saw that Eimane had won something more
than pardon. Whatever penance they had dreaded,
their own escape ill compensated the loss of their
expected pleasure in the pain and humiliation of a
finer nature. Eunane's look, timidly appealing to her to
ratify our full reconciliation, answered by Eveena's
smile of tender, sisterly sympathy, enhanced and com-
pleted their discomfiture.
A chief luxury and expense in which, when aware
what my income was, I indulged myself freely was the
purchase of Martial literature. Only ephemeral works
are as a rule printed in the phonographic character,
which alone I could read with ease. The Martialists
have no newspapers. It does not seem to them worth
while to record daily the accidents, the business incidents,
the prices, the amusements, and the follies of the day;
and politics they have none. In no case would a people
so coldly wise, so thoroughly impressed by experience
with a sense of the extreme folly of political agitation,
legislative change, and democratic violence, have cursed
themselves with anything like the press of Europe or
America. But as it is, all they have to record is gathered
each twelfth day at the telegraph offices, and from these
communicated on a single sheet about four inches square
to all who care to receive it. But each profession or
occupation that boasts, as do most, an organisation and
a centre of discussion and council, issues at intervals
books containing collected facts, essays, reports of ex-
periments, and lectures. Every man who cares to com-
municate his passing ideas to the public does so by
means of the phonograph. When he has a graver work,
which is, in his view at least, of permanent importance
to publish, it is written in the stylographic character,
and sold at the telegraphic centres. The extreme com-
plication and compression employed in this character
had, as I have already said, rendered it very difficult to
me ; and though I had learnt to decipher it as a child
spells out the words which a few years later it will read
unconsciously by the eye, the only manner in which I
could quickly gather the sense of such books was by
desiring one or other of the ladies to read them aloud.
Strangely enough, next to Eveena, Eive was by far the
best reader. Eunane understood infinitely better what
she was perusing ; but the art of reading aloud is use-
less, and therefore never taught, in schools whose every
pupil learns to read with the usual facility a character
which the practised eye can interpret incomparably
faster than the voice could possibly utter it. This
reading might have afforded many opportunities of
private converse with Eveena, but that Eive, whose
knowledge was by no means proportionate to her intel-
ligence, entreated permission to listen to the books I
selected ; and Eveena, though not partial to her childish
companion and admirer, persuaded me not to refuse.
The story of my voyage and reports of my first
audience at Court were, of course, widely circulated
and extensively canvassed. Though regarded with no
favour, especially by the professed philosophers and
scientists, my adventures and myself were naturally an
object of great curiosity ; and I was not surprised when
a civil if cold request was preferred, on behalf of what
I may call the Martial Academy, that I would deliver
in their hall a series of lectures, or rather a connected
VOL. II. K
1 38 Across the Zodiac.
oral account of the world from which I professed to
have come, and of the manner in which my voyage had
heen accomplished. After consulting Eveena and Davilo,
I accepted the invitation, and intended to take the former
with me. She objected, however, that while she had
hoard much in her father's house and during our travels
of what I had to tell, her companions, scarcely less
interested, were comparatively ignorant. Indiscreetly,
because somewhat provoked by these repeated sacrifices,
as much of my inclination as her own, I mentioned my
purpose at our evening meal, and bade her name those
who should accompany me. I was a little surprised
when, carefully evading the dictation to which she was
invited, she suggested that Eunane and Eive would pro-
bably most enjoy the opportunity. That she should be
willing to get rid of the most wilful and petulant of the
party seemed natural. The other selection confirmed
the impression I had formed, but dared not express to
one whom I had never blamed without finding myself
in the wrong, that Eveena regarded Eive with a feeling
more nearly approaching to jealousy than her nature
seemed capable of entertaining. I obeyed, however,
without comment; and both the companions selected
for me were delighted at the prospect.
The Academy is situated about half-way between
Amacasfe and the Eesidence ; the facilities of Martial
travelling, and above all of telegraphic and telephonic
communication, dispensing with all reason for placing
great institutions in or near important cities. We
travelled by balloon, as I was anxious to improve
myself in the management of these machines. After
frightening my companions so far as to provoke some
Peculiar Institutions. 139
outcry from Eive, and from Eunane some saucy remarks
ou my clumsiness, on which no one else would have
ventured, I descended safely, if not very creditably, in
front of the building which serves as a local centre of
Martial philosophy. The residences of some sixty of
the most eminent professors of various sciences — elected
by their colleagues as seats fall vacant, with the approval
of the highest Court of Judicature and of the Canipta —
cluster around a huge building in the form of a hexagon
made up of a multitude of smaller hexagons, in the
centre whereof is the great hall of the same shape.
In the smaller chambers which surround it are tele-
phones through which addresses delivered in a hundred
different quarters are mechanically repeated; so that
the residents or temporary visitors can here gather at
once all the knowledge that is communicated by any
man of note to any audience throughout the planet.
On this account numbers of young men just emancipated
from the colleges come here to complete their education ;
and above each of the auditory chambers is another
divided into six small rooms, wherein these visitors are
accommodated. A small house belonging to one of the
members who happened to be absent was appropriated
to me during my stay, and in its hall the philosophers
gathered in the morning to converse with or to question
me in detail respecting the world whose existence they
would not formally admit, but whose life, physical,
social, and political, and whose scientific and human
history, they regarded with as much curiosity as if its
reality were ascertained. Courtesy forbids evening visits
unless on distinct and pressing invitation, it being sup-
posed that the head of a household may care to spend
1 40 Across the Zodiac.
that part of his time, and that alone, with his own
The Academists are provided by the State with in-
comes, of an amount very much larger than the modest
allowances which the richest nations of the Earth almost
grudge to the men whose names in future history will
probably be remembered longer than those of eminent
statesmen and warriors. Some of them have made con-
siderable fortunes by turning to account in practical
invention this or that scientific discovery. But as a
rule, in Mars as on Earth, the gifts and the career of the
discoverer and the inventor are distinct. It is, how-
ever, from the purely theoretical labours of the men of
science that the inventions useful in manufactures, in
communication, in every department of life and busi-
ness, are generally derived ; and the prejudice or judg-
ment of this strange people has laid it down that those
who devote their lives to work in itself unremunerative,
but indirectly most valuable to the public, should be at
least as well off as the subordinate servants of the State.
In society they are perhaps more honoured than any but
the highest public authorities ; and my audience was
the most distinguished, according to the ideas of that
world, that it could furnish.
At noon each day I entered the hall, which was
crowded with benches rising on five sides from the
centre to the walls, the sixth being occupied by a
platform where the lecturer and the members of the
Academy sat. After each lecture, which occupied some
two hours, questions more or less perplexing were put
by the latter. Only, however, on the first occasion,
when I reserved, as before the Zinta and the Court, all
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information that could enable my hearers to divine the
nature of the apergic force, was incredulity so plainly
insinuated as to amount to absolute insult.
" If," I said, " you choose to disbelieve what I tell
you, you are welcome to do so. But you are not at
liberty to express your disbelief to me. To do so is to
charge me with lying ; and to that charge, whatever may
be the customs of this world, there is in mine but one
answer," and I laid my hand on the hilt of the sword I
wore in deference to Davilo's warnings, but which he
and others considered a Terrestrial ornament rather than
The President of the Academy quietly replied — " Of
all the strange things we have heard, this seems the
strangest. I waive the probability of your statements,
or the reasonableness of the doubts suggested. But I
fail to understand how, here or in any other world, if
the imputation of falsehood be considered so gross an
offence — and here it is too common to be so regarded —
it can be repelled by proving yourself more skilled in
the use of weapons, or stronger or more daring than the
person who has challenged your assertion."
The moral courage and self-possession of the Pre-
sident were as marked as his logic was irrefragable :
but my outbreak, however illogical, served its purpose.
No one was disposed to give mortal offence to one who
showed himself so ready to resent it, though probably
the apprehension related less to my swordsmanship than
the favour I was supposed to enjoy with the Suzerain.
Seriously impressed by the growing earnestness of
Davilo's warnings, and feeling that I could no longer
conceal the pressure of some anxiety on my mind,
142 j Icross the Zodiac.
gradually, cautiously, and tenderly I broke to Eveena
what I had learned, with but two reserves. I would
not render her life miserable by the suggestion of pos-
sible treason in our own household. That she might
not infer this for herself, I led her to believe that the
existence and discovery of the conspiracy was of a date
long subsequent to my acceptance of the Sovereign's
unwelcome gift. She was deeply affected, and, as I had
feared, exceedingly disturbed. But, very characteristi-
cally, the keenest impressiou made upon her mind con-
cerned less the urgency of the peril than its origin, the
fact that it was incurred through and for her. On this
she insisted much more than seemed just or reasonable-
It was for her sake, no doubt, that I had made the
Eegent of Elcavoo my bitter, irreconcilable foe. It was
my marriage with her, the daughter of the most eminent
among the chiefs of the Zinta, that had marked me out
as one of the first and principal victims, and set on my
head a value as high as on that of any of the Order
save the Arch-Enlightener himself, whose personal
character and social distinction would have indicated
him as especially dangerous, even had his secret rank
been altogether unsuspected. It was impossible to
soothe Eveena's first outbreak of feeling, or reason with
her illogical self-reproach. Compelled at last to admit
that the peril had been unconsciously incurred when
she neither knew nor could have known it, she pleaded
eagerly and earnestly for permission to repair by the
sacrifice of herself the injury she had brought upon me.
It was useless to tell her that the acceptance of such a
sacrifice would be a thousand-fold worse than death.
Even the depth and devotion of her own love could not
Peculiar Institutions. 143
persuade her to realise the passionate earnestness of
mine. It was still more in vain to remind her that
such a concession must entail the dishonour that man
fears above all perils ; would brand me with that in-
delible stain of abject personal cowardice which for ever
degrades and ruins not only the fame but the nature of
manhood, as the stain of wilful unchastity debases and
" Rescind our contract," she insisted, pleading, with
the overpowering vehemence of a love absolutely un-
selfish, against love's deepest instincts and that egotism
which is almost inseparable from it ; giving passionate
utterance to an affection such as men rarely feel for
women, women perhaps never for men. " Divorce me ;
force the enemy to believe that you have broken with
my father and with his Order ; and, favoured as you are
by the Sovereign, you will be safe. Give what reason
you will ; say that I have deserved it, that I have forced
you to it. I know that contracts are, revoked with the
full approval of the Courts and of the public, though I
hardly know why. I will agree ; and if we are agreed,
you can give or withhold reasons as you please. Nay,
there can be no wrong to me in doing what I entreat
you to do. I shall not suffer long — no, no, I vnll live,
I will be happy " — her face white to the lips, her
streaming tears were not needed to belie the words !
" By your love for me, do not let me feel that you are
to die — do not keep me in dread to hear that you have
died — for me and through me."
If it had been in her power to leave me, if one-half
of the promised period had not been yet to run, she
might have enforced her purpose in despite of all that
144 Across the Zodiac.
I could urge; — of reason, of entreaty, of the pleadings of
a love in this at least as earnest as her own. Nay, she
would probably have left rae, in the hope of exhibiting
to the world the appearance of an open quarrel, but for
a peculiarity of Martial law. That law enforces, on the
plea of either party, " specific performance " of the
marriage contract. I could reclaim her, and call the
force of the State to recover her. When even this
warning at first failed to enforce her submission, I
swore by all I held sacred in my own world and all she
revered in hers — by the symbols never lightly invoked,
and never, in the course of ages that cover thrice the
span of Terrestrial history and tradition, invoked to
sanction a lie ; symbols more sacred in her eyes than,
in those of mediaeval Christendom, the gathered relics
that appalled the heroic soul of Harold Godwinsson —
that she should only defeat her own purpose ; that I
would reclaim my wife before the Order and before the
law, thus asserting more clearly than ever the strength
of the tie that bound me to her and to her house. The
oath which it was impossible to break, perhaps yet
more the cold and measured tone with which I spoke,
in striving to control the white heat of a passion as
much stronger as it was more selfish than hers — a tone
which sounded to myself unnatural and alien — at last
compelled her to yield ; and silenced her in the only
moment in which the depths of that nature, so sweet
and soft and gentle, were stirred by the violence of a
moral tempest. . . .
A marvellously perfect example of Martial art and
science is furnished by the Observatory of the Astro-
nomic Academy, on a mountain about twenty miles from
Peculiar Institutions. 145
the Eesidence. The hill selected stands about 4000
feet above the sea-level, and almost half that height
above any neighbouring ground. It commands, there-
fore, a most perfect view of the horizon all around, even
below the technical or theoretic horizon of its latitude.
A volcano, like all Martial volcanoes very feeble, and
never bursting into eruptions seriously dangerous to the
dwellers in the neighbouring plains, existed at some miles'
distance, and caused earthquakes, or perhaps I should
more properly say disturbances of the surface, which
threatened occasionally to perturb the observations.
But the Martialists grudge no cost to render their scien-
tific instruments, from the Observatory itself to the
smallest lens or wheel it contains, as perfect as possible.
Having decided that Eanelca was very superior to any
other available site, they were not to be baffled or
diverted by such a trifle as the opposition of Nature.
Still less would they allow that the observers should
be put out by a perceptible disturbance, or their obser-
vations falsified by one too slight to be realised by
their senses. If Nature were impertinent enough to
interfere with the arrangements of science, science must
put down the mutiny of Nature. As seas had been
bridged and continents cut through, so a volcano might
and must be suppressed or extinguished. A tunnel
thirty miles in length was cut from a great lake nearly
a thousand feet higher than the base of the volcano ;
and through this for a quarter of a year, say some six
Terrestrial months, water was steadily poured into the
subterrene cavities wherein the eruptive forces were
generated — the plutonic laboratory of the rebellious
agency. Of course previous to the adoption of this
146 Across the Zodiac.
measure, the crust in the neighbourhood had been care-
fully explored and tested by various wonderfully elabo-
rate and perfect boring instruments, and a map or rather
model of the strata for a mile below the surface, and for
a distance around the volcano which I dare not state
on the faith of my recollection alone, had been con-
structed on a scale, as we should say, of twelve inches
to the mile. Except for minor purposes, for convenience
of pocket carriage and the like, Martialists disdain so
poor a representation as a flat map can give of a broken
surface. On the small scale, they employ globes or
spherical sections to represent extensive portions of
their world ; on the large scale (from two to twenty-
four inches per mile), models of wonderfully accurate
construction. Consequently, children understand and
enjoy the geographical lesson which in European schools
costs so many tears to so little purpose. A girl of six
years knows more perfectly the whole area of the
Martial globe than a German Professor that of the
ancient Peloponnesus. Eive, the dunce of our house-
hold, won a Terrestrial picture-book on which she had
set her fancy by tracing on a forty-inch globe, the first
time she saw it, every detail of my journey from Ecasfe
as she had heard me relate it ; and Eunane, who had
never left her Nursery, could describe beforehand any
route I wished to take between the northern and
southern ice-belts. Under the guidance afforded by
the elaborate model abovementioned, all the hollows
wherein the materials of eruption were stored, and
wherein the chemical forces of Nature had been at
work for ages, were thoroughly flooded. Of course
convulsion after convulsion of the most violent nature
Peculiar Institutions. 147
followed. But in the course of about two hundred days,
the internal combustion was overmastered for lack of
fuel; the chemical combinations, which might have gone
on for ages causing weak but incessant outbreaks, were
completed and their power exhausted.
This source of disturbance extinguished in the reign
of the twenty-fifth predecessor of my royal patron, the
construction of the great Observatory on Eanelca was
commenced. A very elaborate road, winding round and
round the mountain at such an incline as to be easily
ascended by the electric carriages, was built. But this
was intended only as a subsidiary means of ascent.
Bight into the bowels of the mountain a vast tunnel
fifty feet in height was driven. At its inner extremity
was excavated a chamber whose dimensions are imper-
fectly recorded in my notes, but which was certainly
much larger than the central cavern from which radiate
the principal galleries of the Mammoth Cave. Around
this were pierced a dozen shafts, emerging at different
heights, but all near the summit, and all so far out-
side the central plateau as to leave the solid foundation
on which the Observatory was to rest, down to the very
centre of the planet, wholly undisturbed. Through each
of these, ascending and descending alternately, pass two
cars, or rather movable chambers, worked by electricity,
conveying passengers, instruments, or supplies to and
from the most convenient points in the vast structure of
the Observatory itself. The highest part of Eanelca was
a rocky mass of some 1600 feet in circumference and about
200 in height. This was carved into a perfect octagon,
in the sides of which were arranged a number of minor
chambers — among them those wherein transit and other
148 Across the Zodiac.
secondary observations were to be taken, and in which
minor magnifying instruments were placed to scan
their several portions of the heavens. Within these
was excavated a circular central chamber, the dome
of which was constructed of a crystal so clear that
I verily believe the most exacting of Terrestrial astro-
nomers would have been satisfied to make his observa-
tions through it. But an opening was made in this
dome, as for the mounting of one of our equatorial
telescopes, and machinery was provided which caused
the roof to revolve with a touch, bringing the opening
to bear on any desired part of the celestial vault. In
the centre of the solid floor, levelled to the utmost
perfection, was left a circular pillar supporting the
polar axis of an instrument widely differing from our
telescopes, especially in the fact that it had no opaque
tube connecting the essential lenses which we call the
eye-piece and the object-glass, names not applicable to
their Martial substitutes. On my visit to the Observa-
tory, however, I had not leisure to examine minutely
the means by which the images of stars and planets
were produced. I reserved this examination for a second
opportunity, which, as it happened, never occurred.
On this occasion Eveena and Eunane were with me,
and the astronomic pictures which were to be presented
to us, and which they could enjoy and understand
almost as fully as myself, sufficiently occupied our
time. Warned to stand at such a distance from the
central machinery that in a whole revolution no part
of it could by any possibility touch us, we were placed
near an opening looking into a dark chamber, with our
backs to the objects of observation. In this chamber,
Peculiar Institutions. 149
not upon a screen but suspended in the air, presently
appeared an image several thousand times larger than
that of the crescent Moon as seen through a tube small
enough to correct the exaggeration of visual instinct.
It appeared, however, not flat, as does the Moon to the
naked eye, but evidently as part of a sphere. At some
distance was shown another crescent, belonging to a sphere
whose diameter was a little more than one-fourth that of
the former. The light reflected from their surfaces was of
silver radiance, rather than the golden hue of the Moon
or of Venus as seen through a small telescope. The
smaller crescent I could recognise at once as belonging
to our own satellite; the larger was, of course, the
world I had quitted. So exactly is the clockwork or
its substitute adapted to counteract both the rotation
and revolution of Mars, that the two images underwent
no other change of place than that caused by their own
proper motion in space ; a movement which, notwith-
standing the immense magnifying power employed, was
of course scarcely perceptible. But the rotation of the
larger sphere was visible as we watched it. It so hap-
pened that the part which was at once lighted by the
rays of the Sun and exposed to our observation was but
little clouded. The atmosphere, of course, prevented
its presenting the clear, sharply-defined outlines of
lunar landscapes ; but sea and land, ice and snow, were
so clearly defined and easily distinguishable that my
companions exclaimed with eagerness, as they observed
features unmistakably resembling on the grand scale those
with which they were themselves familiar. The Arctic
ice was scarcely visible in the North. The vast steppes
of Russia, the boundary line of the Ural mountains, the
150 Across the Zodiac.
greyish-blue of the Euxine, "Western Asia, Arabia, and
the Red Sea joining the long water-line of the Southern
Ocean, were denned by the slanting rays. The Ant-
arctic ice-continent was almost equally clear, with
its stupendous glacier masses radiating apparently
from an elevated extensive land, chiefly consisting of
a deeply scooped and scored plateau of rock, around
the Pole itself. The terminator, or boundary be-
tween light and shade, was not, as in the Moon, pretty
sharply defined, and broken only by the mountainous
masses, rings, and sea-beds, if such they are, so
characteristic of the latter. On the image of the
Moon there intervened between bright light and utter
darkness but the narrow belt to which only part of the
Sun was as yet visible, and which, therefore, received
comparatively few rays. The twilight to north and
south extended on the image of the Earth deep into
that part on which as yet the Sun was below the
horizon, and consequently daylight faded into darkness
all but imperceptibly, save between the tropics. We
watched long and intently as league by league new
portions of Europe and Africa, the Mediterranean,
and even the Baltic, came into view ; and I was able
to point out to Eveena lands in which I had travelled,
seas I had crossed, and even the isles of the ^Egean,
and bays in which my vessel had lain at anchor. This
personal introduction to each part of the image, now
presented to her for the first time, enabled her to
realise more forcibly than a lengthened experience
of astronomical observation might have done the like-
ness to her own world of that which was passing under
her eyes; and at once intensified her wonder, heightened
Peculiar Institutions. 1 5 1
her pleasure, and sharpened her intellectual apprehen-
sion of the scene.
When we had satiated our eyes •with this spec-
tacle, or rather when I remembered that we could
spare no more time to this, the most interesting
exhibition of the evening, a turn of the machinery
brought Venus under view. Here, however, the cloud
envelope baffled us altogether, and her close approach
to the horizon soon obliged the director to turn his
apparatus in another direction. Two or three of the
Asteroids were in view. Pallas especially presented a
very interesting spectacle. Not that the difference of
distance would have rendered the definition much
more perfect than from a Terrestrial standpoint, but
that the marvellous perfection of Martial instru-
ments, and in some measure also the rarity of the
atmosphere at such a height, rendered possible the use
of far higher magnifying powers than our astronomers
can employ. I am inclined to agree, from what I saw
on this occasion, with those who imagine the Asteroids
to be — if not fragments of a broken planet which once
existed as a whole — yet in another sense fragmentary
spheres, less perfect and with surfaces of much greater
proportionate irregularity than those of the larger
planets. Next was presented to our view on a some-
what smaller scale, because the area of the chamber
employed would not otherwise have given room for the
system, the enormous disc and the four satellites of
Jupiter. The difference between 400 and 360 millions
of miles' distance is, of course, wholly unimportant ;
but the definition and enlargement were such that the
image was perfect, and the details minute and distinct,
1 5 2 Across the Zodiac.
beyond anything that Earthly observation had led me
to conceive as possible. The satellites were no longer
mere points or tiny discs, but distinct moons, with
surfaces marked like that of our own satellite, though
far less mountainous and broken, and, as it seemed
to me, possessing a distinct atmosphere. I am not
sure that there is not a visible difference of brightness
among them, not due to their size but to some differ-
ence in the reflecting power of their surfaces, since
the distance of all from the Sun is practically equal.
That Jupiter gives out some light of his own, a portion
of which they may possibly reflect in differing amount
according to their varying distance, is believed by
Martial astronomers ; and I thought it not improbable.
The brilliant and various colouring of the bands which
cross the face of the giant planet was wonderfully
brought out; the bluish-grey around the poles, the
clear yellowish-white light of the light bands, pro-
bably belts of white cloud, contrasted signally the
hues — varying from deep orange-brown to what was
almost crimson or rose-pink on the one hand and
bright yellow on the other — of different zones of the
so-called dark belts. On the latter, markings and
streaks of strange variety suggested, if they failed
to prove, the existence of frequent spiral storms, dis-
turbing, probably at an immense height above the
surface, clouds which must be utterly unlike the clouds
of Mars or the Earth in material as well as in form
and mass. These markings enabled us to follow with
clear ocular appreciation the rapid rotation of this
planet. In the course of half-an-hour several distinct
spots on different belts had moved in a direct line
Peculiar Institutions. 1 5 3
across a tenth of the face presented to us — a distance,
upon the scale of the gigantic image, so great that
the motion required no painstaking observation, but
forced itself upon the notice of the least attentive
spectator. The belief of Martial astronomers is that
Jupiter is not by any means so much less dense than
the minor planets as his proportionately lesser weight
would imply. They hold that his visible surface is
that of an enormously deep atmosphere, within which
lies, they suppose, a central ball, not merely hot but
more than white hot, and probably, from its tempera-
ture, not yet possessing a solid crust. One writer
argues that, since all worlds must by analogy be
supposed to be inhabited, and since the satellites of
Jupiter more resemble worlds than the planet itself,
which may be regarded as a kind of secondary sun, it
is not improbable that the former are the scenes of
life as varied as that of Mars itself; and that infinite
ages hence, when these have become too cold for
habitation, their giant primary may have gone through
those processes which, according to the received theory,
have fitted the interior planets to be the home of
plants, animals, and, in two cases at least, of human
It was near midnight before the manifest fatigue of
the ladies overcame my selfish desire to prolong as
much as possible this most interesting visit. Meteoro-
logical science in Mars has been carried to high per-
fection; and the director warned me that but three
or four equally favourable opportunities might offer
in the course of the next half year.
VOL. 11. l
( 154 )
CHAR A CTERISTICS.
Time passed on, marked by no very important incident,
while I made acquaintance with manners and with men
around me, neither one nor the other worth further
description. Nothing occurred to confirm the alarms
Davilo constantly repeated.
I called the ladies one day into the outer grounds to
see a new carriage, capable, according to its arrange-
ment, of containing from two to eight persons, and a
balloon of great size and new construction which Davilo
had urgently counselled me to procure, as capable of
sudden use in some of those daily thickening perils, of
which I could see no other sign than occasional evi-
dence that my steps were watched and dogged. Both
vehicles enlisted the interest and curiosity of Eunane
and her companions. Eveena, after examining with as
much attention as was due to the trouble I took to
explain it, the construction of the carriage, concen-
trated her interest and observation upon the balloon,
the sight of which evidently impressed her. When we
had returned to the peristyle, and the rest had dispersed,
I said —
" I see you apprehend some part of my reasons for
Characteristics. 1 5 5
purchasing the balloon. The carriage will take us
to-morrow to Altasfe (a town some ten miles distant).
' Shopping ' is an amusement so gratifying to all women
011 Earth, from the veiled favourites of an Eastern
seraglio to the very unveiled dames of Western ball-
rooms, that I suppose the instinct must be native to
the sex wherever women and trade co-exist. If you
have a single feminine folly, you will enjoy this more
than you will own. If you are, as they complain,
absolutely faultless, you will enjoy with me the pleasure
of the girls in plaguing one after another all the traders
of Altasfe:" and with these words I placed in her
hands a packet of the thin metallic plates constituting
their currency. Her extreme and unaffected surprise
was amusing to witness.
" What am I to do with this ? " she inquired, count-
ing carefully the uncounted pile, in a manner which at
once dispelled my impression that her surprise was due
to childish ignorance of its value.
"Whatever you please, Madonna; whatever can
please you and the others."
" But," she remonstrated, " this is more than all our
dowries for another year to come ; and — forgive me for
repeating what you seem purposely to forget — I cannot
cast the shadow between my equals and the master.
Would you so mortify me, as to make me take from
Eunane's hand, for example, what should come from
yours ? " .
" You are right, Madonna, now as always," I owned ;
wincing at the name she used, invariably employed by
the others, but one I never endured from her. Her
looks entreated pardon for the form of the implied
156 Across the Zodiac.
reproof, as I resumed the larger part of the money she
held out to me, forcing back the smaller into her reluc-
tant hands. " But what has the amount of your dowries
to do with the matter? The contracts are meant, I
suppose, to secure the least to which a wife has a
right, not to fix her natural share in her husband's
wealth. You need not fear, Eveena ; the Prince has
made us rich enough to spend more than we shall
" I don't understand you," she replied with her usual
gentle frankness and simple logical consistency. " It
pleases you to say ' we ' and ' ours ' whenever you can so
seem to make me part of yourself ; and I love to hear
you, for it assures me each time that you still hold me
tightly as I cling to you. But you know those are only
words of kindness. Since you returned my father's
gift, the dowry you then doubled is my only share of
what is yours, and it is more than enough."
" Do you mean that women expect and receive no
more : that they do not naturally share in a man's
surplus wealth ? "
"While I spoke Enva had joined us, and, resting on
the cushions at my feet, looked curiously at the metallic
notes in Eveena's hand.
"You do not," returned the latter, "pay more for
what you have purchased because you have grown
richer. You do not share your wealth even with those
on whose care it chiefly depends."
" Yes, I do, Eveena. ' But I know what you mean.
Their share is settled and is not increased. But you
will not tell me that this affords any standard for
household dealings ; that a wife's share in her husband's
Characteristics. 1 5 7
fortune is really bounded by the terms of the marriage
contract ? "
" Will you let Enva answer you ? " asked Eveena.
" She looks more ready than I feel to reply."
This little incident was characteristic in more ways
than one. Eveena's feelings, growing out of the
realities of our relation, were at issue with and per-
plexed her convictions founded on the theory and
practice of her world. Not yet doubting the justice of
the latter, she instinctively shrank from their applica-
tion to ourselves. She was glad, therefore, to let Enva
state plainly and directly a doctrine which, from her
own lips, would have pained as well as startled me.
On her side, Enva, though encouraged to bear her part
in conversation, was too thoroughly imbued with the
same ideas to interpose unbidden. As she would have
said, a wife deserved the sandal for speaking without
leave; nor — experience notwithstanding — would she
think it safe to interrupt in my presence a favourite
so pointedly honoured as Eveena. She waited, there-
fore, till my eyes gave the permission which hers had
"Why should you buy anything twice over, Clas-
fempta, whether it be a wife or an amba ? A girl sells
her society for the best price her attractions will com-
mand. These attractions seldom increase. You cannot
give her less because you care less for them ; but how
can she expect more ? "
" I know, Enva, that the marriage contract here is
an open bargain and sale, as .among my race it is gene-
rally a veiled one. But, the bargain made, does it
really govern the after relation ? Do men really spend
158 Across the Zodiac.
their wealth wholly on themselves, and take no pleasure
in the pleasure of women ? "
" Generally, I believe," Enva replied, " they fancy
they have paid too much for their toy before they have
possessed it long, and had rather buy a new one than
make much of those they have. Wives seldom look on
the increase of a man's wealth as a gain to themselves.
Of course you like to see us prettily dressed, while you
think us worth looking at in ourselves. But as a rule
our own income provides for that ; and we at any rate
are better off than almost any women outside the Palace.
The Prince did not care, and knew it would not matter
to you, what he gave to make his gift worthy of him
and agreeable to you. Perhaps," she added, " he wished
to make it secure by offering terms too good to be thrown
away by any foolish rebellion against a heavier hand
or a worse temper than usual. You hardly understand
yet half the advantages you possess."
The latent sarcasm of the last remark did not need
the look of pretended fear that pointed it. If Enva
professed to resent my inadequate appreciation of the
splendid beauty bestowed on me by the royal favour
more than any possible ill-usage for which she sup-
posed herself compensated in advance, it was not for
me to put her sincerity to proof.
" Once bought, then, wives are not worth pleasing ?
It is not worth while to purchase happy faces, bright
smiles, and willing kisses now and then at a cost the
giver can scarcely feel ? "
Enva's look now was half malicious, half kindly, and
wholly comical; but she answered gravely, with a
slight imitation of my own tone —
"Can you not imagine, or make Eveena tell you,
Clasfempta, why women once purchased think it best
to give smiles and kisses freely to one who can com-
mand their tears ? Or do you fancy that their smiles
are more loyal and sincere when won by kindness
" By fear ? Sweeter, Enva, at any rate. Well, if I
do not offend your feelings, I need not hesitate to dis-
regard another of your customs."
She received her share willingly and gratefully
enough, but her smile and kiss were so evidently given
to order, that they only testified to the thorough literality
of her statement. Leenoo, Eirale, and Elfe followed
her example with characteristic exactness. Equally
characteristic was the conduct of the others. Eunane
kept aloof till called, and then approached with an air
of sullen reluctance, as if summoned to receive a repri-
mand rather than a favour. Not a little amused, I
affected displeasure in my turn, till the window of her
chamber closed behind us, and her ill-humour was for-
gotten in wondering alarm. Offered in private, the
kiss and smile given and not demanded, the present
was accepted with frank affectionate gratitude. Eive
took her share in pettish shyness, waiting the moment
when she might mingle unobserved with her childlike
caresses the childish reproach —
" If you can buy kisses, Clasfempta, you don't want
mine. And if you fancy I sell them, you shall have no
I saw Davilo in the morning before we started.
After some conversation on business, he said —
" And pardon a suggestion which I make, not as in
160 Across the Zodiac.
charge of your affairs, but as responsible to our supreme
authority for your safety. No correspondence should
pass from your household unscrutinised ; and if there
be such correspondence, I must ask you to place in my
hand, for the purpose of our quest, not any message,
but some of the slips on which messages have been
written. This may probably furnish precisely that
tangible means of relation with some one acquainted
with the conspiracy for which we have sought in vain."
My unwillingness to meddle with feminine corre-
spondence was the less intelligible to him that, as the
master alone commands the household telegraph, he
knew that it must have passed through my hands. I
yielded at last to his repeated urgency that a life more
precious than mine was involved in any danger to my-
self, so far as to promise the slips required, to furnish
a possible means of rapport between the clairvoyants
and the enemy.
I returned to the house in grave thought. Eunane
corresponded by the telegraph with some schoolmates ;
Eive, I fancied, with three or four of those ladies with
whom, accompanying me on my visits, she had made
acquaintance. But I hated the very thought of do-
mestic suspicion, and, adhering to my original resolve,
refused to entertain a distrust that seemed ill-founded
and far-fetched. If there had been treachery, it would
be impossible to obtain any letters that might have
been preserved without resorting to a compulsion which,
since both Eunane and Eive had written in the know-
ledge that their letters passed unread, would seem like
a breach of faith. I asked, however, simply, and giving
no reason, for the production of any papers received
Characteristics. 1 6 1
and preserved by either. Eive, with her usual air of
simplicity, brought me the two or three which, she said,
were all she had kept. Eunane replied with a petu-
lance almost amounting to refusal, which to some might
have suggested suspicion ; but which to me seemed the
very last course that a culprit would have pursued. To
give needless offence while conscious of guilt would
have been the very wantonness of reckless temper.
"Bite your tongue, and keep your letters," I said
Turning to Eive and looking at the addresses of hers,
none of which bore the name of any one who could be
suspected of the remotest connection with a political
" Give me which of these you please," I said, taking
from her hand that which she selected and marking it.
" Now erase the writing yourself and give me the paper."
This incident gave Eunane leisure to recover her
temper. She stood for a few moments ashamed perhaps,
but, as usual, resolute to abide by the consequences of a
fault. When she found that my last word was spoken,
her mood changed at once.
"I did not quite like to give you Velna's letters.
They are foolish, like mine ; and besides But I
never supposed you would let me refuse. What you
won't make me do, I must do of my own accord."
Womanly reasoning, most unlike "woman's reasons !"
She brought, with unaffected alacrity, a collection of
tafroo-slips whose addresses bore out her account of
their character. Taking the last from the bundle, I
bade her erase its contents.
"No," she said, "that is the one I least liked to
1 62 Across the Zodiac.
show. If you will not read it, please follow my hand
as I read, and see for yourself how far I have misused
" I never doubted your good faith, Eunane " But
she had begun to read, pointing with her finger as she
went on. At one sentence hand and voice wavered a
little without apparent reason. " I shall," wrote her
school-friend, some half year her junior, " make my
appearance at the next inspection. " I wish the Campta
had left you here till now ; we might perhaps have con-
trived to pass into the same household."
" A very innocent wish, and very natural," I said, in
answer to the look, half inquiring, half shy, with which
Eunane watched the effect of her words. I could not
now use the precaution in her case, which it had some-
how seemed natural to adopt with Eive, of marking the
paper returned for erasure. On her part, Eunane thrust
into my hand the whole bundle as they were, and I
was forced myself to erase, by an electro-chemical pro-
cess which leaves no trace of writing, the words of that
selected. The absence of any mark on the second paper
served sufficiently to distinguish the two when, of course
without stating from whom I received them, I placed
them in Davilo's hands.
When we were ready to leave the peristyle for the
carriage, I observed that Eunane alone was still un-
veiled, while the others wore their cloaks of down and
the thick veils, without which no lady may present
herself to the public eye.
" ' Thieving time is woman's crime,' " I said, quoting
a domestic proverb. " In another household you would
be left behind."
"Of course," she replied, such summary discipline
seeming to her as appropriate as to an European child.
" I don't like always to deserve the vine and receive
" You must take which / like," I retorted, laughing.
Satisfied or silenced, she hastened to dress, and enjoyed
with unalloyed delight the unusual pleasure of inspect-
ing dresses and jewellery, and making more purchases
in a day than she had expected to be able to do in two
years. But she and her companions acted with more
consideration than ladies permitted to visit the shops of
Europe show for their masculine escort. Eive alone, on
this as on other occasions, availed herself thoroughly of
those privileges of childhood which I had always ex-
tended to her.
So quick are the proceedings and so excellent the
arrangements of Martial commerce, even where ladies
are concerned, that a couple of hours saw us on our way
homeward, after having passed through the apartments
of half the merchants in Altasfe. Purposely for my
own pleasure, as well as for that of my companions, I
took a circuitous route homeward, and in so doing came
within sight of a principal feminine Nursery or girls'
school. Eecognising it, Eunane spoke with some eager-
" Ah ! I spent nine years there, and not always un-
Eveena, who sat beside me, pressed my hand, with an
intention easily understood.
" And you would like to see it again ? " I inquired
in compliance with her silent hint.
164 Across the Zodiac.
" Not to go back," said Eunane. " But I should like
to pay it a visit, if it were possible."
" Can we ? " I asked Eveena.
" I think so," she answered. " I observe half a dozen
people have gone in since we came in sight, and I fancy
it is inspection day there."
" Inspection ? " I asked.
" Yes," she replied in a tone of some little annoyance
and discomfort. " The girls who have completed their
tenth year, and who are thought to have as good a
chance now as they would have later, are dressed for
the first time in the white robe and veil of maidenhood,
and presented in the public chamber to attract the
choice of those who are looking for brides."
" Not a pleasant spectacle," I said, " to you or to
myself ; but it will hardly annoy the others, and Eunane
shall have her wish."
We descended from our carriage at the gate, and
entered the grounds of the Nursery. Studiously as the
health, the diet, and the exercise of the inmates are
cared for, nothing is done to render the appearance of
the home where they pass so large and critical a portion
of their lives cheerful or attractive in appearance.
Utility alone is studied ; how much beauty conduces to
utility where the happiness and health of children are
concerned, Martial science has yet to learn. The
grounds contained no flowers and but few trees ; the
latter ruined in point of form and natural grace to render
them convenient supports for gymnastic apparatus. A
number of the younger girls, unveiled, but dressed in a
dark plain garment reaching from the throat to the
knees, with trousers giving free play to the limbs, were
exercising on the different swings and bars, flinging the
light weights and balls, or handling the substitutes for
dumb-bells, the use of which forms an important branch
of their education. Others, relieved from this essential
part of their tasks, were engaged in various sports. One
of these I noticed especially. Perhaps a hundred young
ladies on either side formed a sort of battalion, contend-
ing for the ground they occupied with light shields of
closely woven wire and masks of the same material, and
with spears consisting of a reed or grass about five feet
in length, and exceedingly light. When perfectly
ripened, these spears are exceeding formidable, their
points being sharp enough to pierce the skin of any but
a pachydermatous animal. Those employed in these
games, however, are gathered while yet covered by a
sheath, which, as they ripen, bursts and leaves the keen,
hard point exposed. Considerable care is taken in their
selection, since, if nearly ripe, or if they should ripen
prematurely under the heat of the sun when severed
from the stem, the sheath bursting in the middle of a
game, very grave accidents might occur. The move-
ments of the girls were so ordered that the game
appeared almost as much a dance as a conflict; but
though there was nothing of unseemly violence, the
victory was evidently contested with real earnestness,
and with a skill superior to that displayed in the move-
ments of the actual soldiers who have long since ex-
changed the tasks of warfare for the duties of policemen,
escorts, and sentries. I held Eveena's hand, the others
followed us closely, venturing neither to break from
our party without leave nor to ask permission, till, at
Eveena's suggestion, it was spontaneously given. They
1 66 Across the Zodiac.
then quitted us, hastening, Eunane to seek out her
favourite companions of a former season, the others to
mingle with the younger girls and share in their play.
We walked on slowly, stopping from time to time to watch
the exercises and sports of the younger portion of a com-
munity numbering some fifteen hundred girls. When we
entered the hall Ave were rejoined by Eunane, with one
of her friends who still wore the ordinary school costume.
Conversation with or notice of a young lady so dressed
was not only not expected but disallowed, and the pair
seated themselves behind us and studiously out of hear-
ing of any conversation conducted in a low tone.
The spectacle, as I had anticipated, was to me any-
thing but pleasant. It reminded me of a slave-market
of the East, how T ever, rather than of the more revolting
features of a slave auction in the United States. The
maidens, most of them very graceful and more than
pretty, their robes arranged and ornamented with an
evident care to set off their persons to the best advan-
tage, and with a skill much greater than they them-
selves could yet have acquired, were seated alone or by
twos and threes in different parts of the hall, grouped
so as to produce the most attractive general as well as
individual effect. The picture, therefore, was a pretty
one ; and since the intending purchasers addressed the
objects of their curiosity or admiration with courtesy
and fairly decorous reserve, it was the known character
rather than any visible incident of the scene that ren-
dered it repugnant or revolting in my eyes. I need not
say that, except Eveena, there was no one of either sex
in the hall who shared my feeling. After all, the
purpose was but frankly avowed, and certainly carried
out more safely and decorously than in the ball-rooms
and drawing-rooms of London or Paris. Of the maidens,
some seemed shy and backward, and most were silent
save when addressed. But the majority received their
suitors with a thoroughly business-like air, and listened
to the terms offered them, or endeavoured to exact a
higher price or a briefer period of assured slavery, with
a self-possession more reasonable than agreeable to
witness. One maiden seated in our immediate vicinity
was, I perceived, the object of Eveena's especial interest,
and, at first on this account alone, attracted my obser-
vation. Dressed with somewhat less ostentatious care
and elegance than her companions, her veil and the skirt
of her robe were so arranged as to show less of her
personal attractions than they generally displayed. A
first glance hardly did justice to a countenance which,
if not signally pretty, and certainly marked by a beauty
less striking than that of most of the others, was modest
and pleasing ; a figure slight and graceful, with hands
and feet yet smaller than usual, even among a race the
shape of whose limbs is, with few exceptions, admir-
able. Very few had addressed her, or even looked at her ;
and a certain resigned mortification was visible in her
" You are sorry for that child ? " I said to Eveena.
"Yes," she answered. "It must be distressing to
feel herself the least attractive, the least noticed anions
her companions, and on such an occasion. I cannot
conceive how I could bear to form part of such a
spectacle ; but if I were in her place, I suppose I shoidd
be hurt and humbled at finding that nobody cared to
1 68 Across the Zodiac.
look at me in tlio presence of others prettier and better
dressed than myself."
" Well," I said, " of all the faces I see I like that the
best. I suppose I must not speak to her ? "
" Why not ? " said Eveena in surprise. " You are
not bound to purchase her, any more than we bought
all we looked at to-day."
" It did not occur to me," I replied, " that I could be
regarded as a possible suitor, nor do I think I could
find courage to present myself to that young lady in a
manner which must cause her to look upon me in that
light. Ask Eunane if she knows her."
Here Eive and the others joined us and took their
places on my right. Eveena, leaving her seat for a
moment, spoke apart with Eunane.
" Will you speak to her ? " she said, returning. " She
is Eunane's friend and correspondent, Velna; and I
think they are really fond of each other. It is a pity
that if she is to undergo the mortification of remaining
unchosen and going back to her tasks, at least till the
next inspection, she will also be separated finally from
the only person for whom she seems to have had any-
thing like home affection."
" Well, if I am to talk to her," I replied, " you must
be good enough to accompany me. I do not feel that
I could venture on such an enterprise by myself."
Eveena's eyes, even through her veil, expressed at
once amusement and surprise ; but as she rose to accom-
pany me this expression faded and a look of graver
interest replaced it. Many turned to observe us as
we crossed the short space that separated us from the
isolated and neglected maiden. I had seen, if I had
Characteristics. 1 69
not noticed, that in no case were the men, as they made
the tour of the room or went up to any lady who
might have attracted their special notice, accompanied
by the women of their households. A few of these,
however, sat watching the scene, their mortification,
curiosity, jealousy, or whatever feeling it might excite,
being of course concealed by the veils that hid every
feature but the eyes, which now and then followed
very closely the footsteps of their lords. The object of
our attention showed marked surprise as we approached
her, and yet more when, seeing that I was at a loss for
words, Eveena herself spoke a kindly and gracious sen-
tence. The girl's voice was soft and low, and her tone
and words, as we gradually fell into a hesitating and
broken conversation, confirmed the impression made by
her appearance. When, after a few minutes, I moved
to depart, there was in Eveena's reluctant steps and
expressive upturned eyes a meaning I could not under-
stand. As soon as we were out of hearing, moving so
as partly to hide my countenance and entirely to con-
ceal her own gesture from the object of her compas-
sion, she checked my steps by a gentle pressure on my
arm and looked up earnestly into my face.
"What is it?" I asked. "You seem to have some
wish that I cannot conjecture ; and you can trust by this
time my anxiety to gratify every desire of yours, reason-
able or not — if indeed you ever were unreasonable."
"She is so sad, so lonely," Eveena answered, "and
she is so fond of Eunane."
" You don't mean that you want me to make her an
offer ! " I exclaimed in extreme amazement.
"Do not be angry," pleaded Eveena. "She would
vol. 11. M
1 70 Across the Zodiac.
be glad to accept any offer you would be likely to
make ; and the money you gave me yesterday would
have paid all she would cost you for many years.
Iksides, it would please Eunane, and it would make
Velna so happy."
" You must know far better than I can what is
likely to make her happy," I replied. " Strange to the
ideas and customs of your world, I cannot conceive that
a woman can wish to take the last place in a house-
hold like ours rather than the first or only one with the
poorest of her people."
" She will hardly have the choice," Eveena answered.
" Those whom you can call poor mostly wait till they
can have their choice before they marry ; and if taken
by some one who could not afford a more expensive
choice, she would only be neglected, or dismissed ill
provided for, as soon as he could purchase one more to
" If," I rejoined at last, " you think it a kindness to
her, and are sure she will so think it ; if you wish it, and
will avouch her contentment with a place in the house-
hold of one who does not desire her, I will comply with
this as with any wish of yours. But it is not to my
mind to take a wife out of mere compassion, as I might
readily adopt a child."
Once more, with all our mutual affection and appre-
ciation of each other's character, Eveena and I were far
as the Poles apart in thought if not in feeling. It was
as impossible for her to emancipate herself utterly from
the ideas and habits of her own world, as for me to
reconcile myself to them. I led her back at last to her
seat, and beckoned Eunane to my side.
Characteristics. 1 7 1
"Eveena," I said, "has been urging me to offer your
friend yonder a place in our household."
Though I could not see her face, the instant change
in her attitude, the eager movement of her hands, and
the elastic spring that suddenly braced her form, ex-
pressed her feeling plainly enough.
" It must be done, I suppose," I murmured rather to
myself than to them, as Eunane timidly put out her
hand and gratefully clasped Eveena's. " Well, it is to
be done for you, and you must do it."
" How can I ? " exclaimed Eunane in astonishment ;
and Eveena added, " It is for you ; you only can name
your terms, and it would be a strange slight to her to
do so through us."
" I cannot help that. I will not ' act the lie ' by
affecting any personal desire to win her, and I could
not tell her the truth. Offer her the same terms that
contented the rest ; nay, if she enters my household, she
•.shall not feel herself in a secondary or inferior position."
This condition surprised even Eveena as much as my
resolve to make her the bearer of the proposal that was
in truth her own. But, however reluctant, she would
as soon have refused obedience to my request as have
withheld a kindness because it cost her an unexpected
trial. Taking Eunane with her, she approached and
addressed the girl. Whatever my own doubt as to her
probable reception, however absurd in my own estima-
tion the thing I was induced to do, there was no corre-
sponding consciousness, no feeling but one of surprise
and gratification, in the face on which I turned my eyes.
There was a short and earnest debate ; but, as I after-
wards learned, it arose simply from the girl's astonish-
[ 72 Across the Zodiac.
ment at terms which, extravagant even for the beauties
of the day, were thrice as liberal as she had ventured
to dream of. Eveena and Eunane were as well aware
of this as herself; the right of beauty to a special price
seemed to them as obvious as in Western Europe seems
the right of rank to exorbitant settlements ; but they
felt it as impossible to argue the point as a solicitor
would find it unsafe to expound to a gentleman the dif-
ferent cost of honouring Mademoiselle with his hand
and being honoured with that of Milady. Yelna's re-
monstrances were suppressed ; she rose, and, accom-
panied by Eveena and Eunane, approached a desk in
one corner of the room, occupied by a lady past middle
life. The latter, like all those of her sex who have
adopted masculine independence and a professional
career, wore no veil over her face, and in lieu of the
feminine head-dress a band of metal around the head,
depending from which a short fall of silken texture
drawn back behind the ears covered the neck and upper
edge of the dark robe. This lady took from a heap by
her side a slip containing the usual form of marriage
contract, and filled in the blanks. At a sign from
Eveena, I had by this time approached close enough to
hear the language of half-envious, half- supercilious
wonder in which the schoolmistress congratulated her
pupil on her signal conquest, and the terms she had
obtained, as well as the maiden's unaffected acknow-
ledgment of her own surprise and conscious unworthi-
ness. I could feel, despite the concealment of her form
and face, Eveena's silent expression of pained disgust
with the one, and earnest womanly sympathy with the
other. The document was executed in the usual trip-
licate. The girl retired for a few minutes, and reap-
peared in a cloak and veil like those of her new com-
panions, but of comparatively cheap materials. As we
passed the threshold, Eveena gently and tacitly but de-
cisively assigned to her prottgde her own place beside me,
and put her right hand in my left. The agitation with
which it manifestly trembled, though neither strange
nor unpleasing, added to the extreme embarrassment I
felt ; and I had placed her next to Eunane in the car-
riage and taken my seat beside Eveena, whom I never
permitted to resign her own, before a single spoken word
had passed in this extraordinary courtship, or sanctioned
the brief and practical ceremony of marriage.
I was alone in my own room that evening when a
gentle scratching on the window-crystal entreated ad-
mission. I answered without looking up, assuming that
Eveena alone would seek me there. But hers were not
the lips that were earnestly pressed on my hand, nor
hers the voice that spoke, trembling and hesitating with
stronger feeling than it could utter in words —
" I do thank you from my heart. I little thought
you would wish to make me so happy. I shrank from
showing you the letter lest you should think I dared to
hope. ... It is not only Velna ; it is such strange joy
and comfort to be held fast by one who cares — to feel
safe in hands as kind as they are strong. You said you
could love none save Eveena ; but, Clasfempta, your way
of not loving is something better, gentler, more consi-
derate than any love I ever hoped or heard of."
I could read only profound sincerity and passionate
gratitude in the clear bright eyes, softened by half-
suppressed tears, that looked up from where she knelt
i 74 Across the Zodiac.
beside me. But the exaggeration was painfully sugges-
tive, confirming the ugly view Enva had given yesterday
of the life that seemed natural and reasonable to her race,
and made ordinary human kindness appear something
strange and romantic by contrast.
" Surely, Eunane, every man wishes those around him
happy, if it do not cost too much to make them so ? "
" No, indeed ! Oftener the master rinds pleasure in
punishing and humiliating, the favourite in witnessing
her companions' tears and terror. They like to see the
household grateful for an hour's amusement, crouching
to caprice, incredulously thankful for barest justice. One
book much read in our schools says that ' cruelty is a
stronger, earlier, and more tenacious human instinct than
sympathy ; ' and another that 'half the pleasure of power
lies in giving pain, and half the remainder in being praised
for sparing it.' . . . But that was not all : Eveena was
as eager to be kind as you were."
" Much more so, Eunane."
" Perhaps. What seemed natural to her was strange
to you. But it was your thought to put Velna on equal
terms with ns ; taking her out of mere kindness, to give
her the dowry of a Prince's favourite. That surprised
Eveena, and it puzzled me. But I think I half under-
stand you now, and if I do . . . When Eveena told us
how you saved her and defied the Eegent, and Eive
asked you about it, you said so quietly, ' There are some
things a man cannot do.' Is buying a girl cheap, be-
cause she is not a beauty, one of those things ? "
" To take any advantage of her misfortune — to make
her feel it in my conduct — to give her a place in my
household on other terms than her equals — to show her
Characteristics. 1 75
less consideration or courtesy than one would give to a
girl as beautiful as yourself — yes, Eunane ! To my eyes,
your friend is pleasant and pretty ; but if not, would you
have liked to feel that she was of less account here than
yourself, because she has not such splendid beauty as
yours ? "
Eunane was too frank to conceal her gratification in
this first acknowledgment of her charms, as she had
shown her mortification while it was withheld — not,
certainly, because undeserved. Her eyes brightened
and her colour deepened in manifest pleasure. But she
was equally frank in her answer to the implied compli-
ment to her generosity, of whose justice she was not so
" I am afraid I should half have liked it, a year ago.
Now, after I have lived so long with you and Eveena,
I should be shamed by it ! But, Clasfempta, the things
' a man cannot do ' are the things men do every day ; —
and women every hour ! "
( i/6 )
Hitherto I had experienced only the tropical climate
of Mars, with the exception of the short time spent
in the northern temperate zone about the height of
its summer. I was anxious, of course, to see some-
thing also of its winter, and an opportunity presented
itself. No institution was more obviously worth a visit
than the great University or principal place of highest
education in this world, and I was invited thither in
the middle of the local winter. To this University
many of the most promising youths, especially those
intended for any of the Martial professions — architects,
artists, rulers, lawyers, physicians, and so forth — are often
sent directly from the schools, or after a short period of
training in the higher colleges. It is situate far within
the north temperate zone on the shore of one of the
longest and narrowest of the great Martial gulfs, which
extends from north-eastward to south-west, and stretches
from 43 N. to io° S. latitude. The University in ques-
tion is situate nearly at the extremity of the northern
branch of this gulf, which splits into two about 300
miles from its end, a canal of course connecting it with
the nearest sea-belt. I chose to perform this journey
by land, following the line of the great road from
Winter. i 7 7
Amacasfe to Qualveskinta for about 800 miles, and
then turning directly northward. I did not suppose
that I should find a willing companion on this journey,
and was myself wishful to be alone, since I dared not,
in her present state of health, expose Eveena to the
fatigue and hardship of prolonged winter travelling by
land. To my surprise, however, all the rest, when
aware that I had declined to take her, were eager to
accompany me. Chiefly to take her out of the way,
and certainly with no idea of finding pleasure in her
society, I selected Enva ; next to Leenoo the most mali-
cious of the party, and gifted with sufficient intelli-
gence to render her malice more effective than Leenoo's
stupidity could be. Enva, moreover, with the vigorous
youthful vitality so often found on Earth in women of
her light Northern complexion, seemed less likely to
suffer from the severity of the weather or the fatigue
of a land journey than most of her companions. When
I spoke of my intention to Davilo, I was surprised to
find that he considered even feminine company a pro-
" Any attempt upon you," he said, " must either
involve your companion, for which there can be no legal
excuse preferred, or else expose the assailant to the risk
of being identified through her evidence."
I started accordingly a few days before the winter
solstice of the North, reaching the great road a few miles
from the point at which it crosses another of the great
gulfs running due north and south, at its narrowest
point in latitude 3° S. At this point the inlet is no
more than twenty miles wide, and its banks about a
hundred feet in height. At this level and across this
i/3 Across the Zodiac.
vast space was carried a bridge, supported by arcb.es,
and resting on pillars deeply imbedded in the submarine
rock at a depth about equal to the height of the land
on either side. The Martial seas are for the most part
shallow, the landlocked gulfs being seldom ioo fathoms,
and the deepest ocean soundings giving less than iooo.
The vast and solid structure looked as light and airy
as any suspension bridge across an Alpine ravine.
This gigantic viaduct, about 500 Martial years old, is
still the most magnificent achievement of engineering in
this department. The main roads, connecting important
cities or forming the principal routes of commerce in the
absence of convenient river or sea carriage, are carried
over gulfs, streams, ravines, and valleys, and through
hills, as Terrestrial engineers have recently promised to
carry railways over the minor inequalities of ground.
That which we were following is an especially magnifi-
cent road, and signalised by several grand exhibitions
of engineering daring and genius. It runs from Ama-
casfe for a thousand miles in one straight line direct as
that of a Koman road, and with but half-a-dozen changes
of level in the whole distance. It crossed in the space
of a few miles a valley, or rather dell, 200 feet in depth,
and with semi-perpendicular sides, and a stream wider
than the Mississippi above the junction of the Ohio.
Next it traversed the precipitous side of a hill for a
distance of three or four miles, where Nature had not
afforded foothold for a rabbit or a squirrel. The stu-
pendous bridges and the magnificent open road cut in
the side of the rock, its roof supported on the inside by
the hill itself, on the outside by pillars left at regular
intervals when the stone was cut, formed from one point
Winter. 1 79
a single splendid view. Pointing it out to Enva, I was
a little surprised to find her capable, under the guidance
of a few remarks from myself, of appreciating and
taking pride in the marvellous work of her race. In
another place, a tunnel pierced directly an intervening
range of hills for about eight miles, interrupted only in
two points by short deep open cuttings. This passage,
unlike those en the river previously mentioned, was
constantly and brilliantly lighted. The whole road
indeed was lit up from the fall of the evening to the
dispersion of the morning mist with a brilliancy nearly
equal to that of daylight. As I dared not travel at a
greater rate than twenty- five miles per hour — my experi-
ence, though it enabled me to manage the carriage with
sufficient skill, not giving me confidence to push it
to its greatest speed — the journey must occupy several
days. We had, therefore, to rest at the stations pro-
vided by public authority for travellers undertaking
such long land journeys. These are built like ordinary
Martial houses, save that in lieu of peristyle or interior
garden is an open square planted with shrubs and
merely large enough to afford light to the inner rooms-
The chambers also are very much smaller than those
of good private houses. As these stations are nearly
always placed in towns or villages, or in well-peopled
country neighbourhoods, food is supplied by the nearest
confectioner to each traveller individually, and a single
person, assisted by the ambau, is able to manage the
largest of them.
The last two or three days of our journey were
bitterly cold, and not a little trying. My own under-
garment of thick soft leather kept me warmer than the
i So Across the Zodiac.
warmest greatcoat or cloak could have done, though I
wore a large cloak of the kargynda's fur in addition —
the prize of the hunt that had so nearly cost me dear,
a personal and very gracious present from the Campta.
My companion, who had not the former advantage,
though wrapped in as many outer garments and quilts
as I had thought necessary, felt the cold severely, and
felt still more the dense chill mist which both by night
and day covered the greater part of the country. This
was not infrequently so thick as to render travelling
almost perilous ; and but that an electric light, required
by law, was placed at each end of the carriage, collisions
would have been inevitable. These hardships afforded
another illustration of the subjection of the sex result-
ing from the rule of theoretical equality. More than a
year's experience of natural kindness and consideration
had not given Enva courage to make a single complaint;
and at first she did her best to conceal the weeping
which was the only, but almost continuous, expression
of her suffering. She was almost as much surprised as
gratified by my expressions of sympathy, and the trouble
I took to obtain, at the first considerable town we
reached, an apparatus by which the heat generated by
motion itself was made to supply a certain warmth
through the tubular open-work of the carriage to the
persons of its occupants. The cold was as severe as
that of a Swedish winter, though we never approached
within seventeen degrees of the Arctic circle, a distance
from the Pole equivalent to that of Northern Prance.
The Martial thermometer, in form more like a watch-
barometer, which I carried in my belt, marked a cold
equivalent to 12° below zero C. in the middle of the
Winter. 1 8 1
day; and when left in the carriage for the night it
had registered no less than 22° below zero.
One of the Professors of the University received us
as his guests, assigning to us, as is usual when a lady
is of the party, rooms looking on the peristyle, but
whose windows remained closed. Enva, of course,
spent her time chiefly with the ladies of the family.
When alone with me she talked freely, though needing
some encouragement to express her own ideas, or report
what she had heard ; but she had no intention of con-
cealment, perhaps no notion that I was interested in
her accounts of the prevalent feeling respecting the
heretics of whom she heard much, except of course that
Eveena's father was among them. Through her I
learned that much pains had been taken to intensify
and excite into active hostility the dislike and distrust
with which they had always been regarded by the
public at large, and especially by the scientific guilds,
whose members control all educational establishments.
That some attempt against them was meditated ap-
peared to be generally reported. Its nature and the
movers in the matter were not known, so far as I could
gather, even to men so influential as the chief Pro-
fessors of the University. It was not merely that the
women had heard nothing on this point, but that their
lords had dropped expressions of surprise at the strict-
ness with which the secret was kept.
As their parents pay, when first the children are ad-
mitted to the public Nurseries, the price of an average
education, this special instruction is given in the first
instance at the cost of the State to those who, on
account of their taste and talent, are selected by the
1 82 Across the Zodiac.
teachers of the Colleges. But before they leave the
University a bond is taken for the amount of this out-
lay, which has to be repaid within three years. It is
fair to say that the tax is trivial in comparison with
the ordinary gains of their professions ; the more so
that no such preference as, in our world, is almost
universally given to a reputation which can only be
acquired by age, excludes the youth of Mars from full
and profitable employment.
The youths were delighted to receive a lecture on
the forms of Terrestrial government, and the outlines
of their history ; a topic I selected because they were
already acquainted with the substance of the addresses
elsewhere delivered. This afforded me an opportunity
of making the personal acquaintance of some of the
more distinguished pupils. The clearness of their
intellect, the thoroughness of their knowledge in their
several studies, and the distinctness of their acquaint-
ance with the outlines and principles of Martial learn-
ing generally, — an acquaintance as free from smatter-
ing and superficiality as necessarily unembarrassed by
detail, — testified emphatically to the excellence of the
training they had received, as well as to the hereditary
development of their brains. What was, however, not
less striking was the utter absence at once of what I
was accustomed to regard as moral principle, and of the
generous impulses which in youth sometimes supply
the place of principle. They avowed the most absolute
selfishness, the most abject fear of death and pain, with
a frankness that would have amazed the Cynics and
disgusted the felons of almost any Earthly nation.
There were partial exceptions, but these were to be
found exclusively among those in training for what we
should call public life, for administrative or judicial
duties. These, though professing no devotion to the
interest of others, and little that could be called public
spirit, did nevertheless understand that in return for
the high rank, the great power, and the liberal remune-
ration they would enjoy, they were bound to consider
primarily the public interest in the performance of
their functions — the right of society to just or at least
to carefully legal judgment, and diligent efficient ad-
ministration. Their feeling, however, was rather pro-
fessional than personal, the pride of students in the
perfection of their art rather than the earnestness of
men conscious of grave human responsibilities.
In conversing with the chief of this Faculty, I
learned some peculiarities of the system of government
with which I was not yet acquainted. Promotion never
depends on those with whom a public servant comes
into personal contact, but on those one or two steps
above the latter. The judges, for instance, of the lower
rank are selected by the principal judge of each domi-
nion ; these and their immediate assistants, by the Chief
of the highest Court. The officers around and under
the Governor of a province are named by the Eegent of
the dominion; those surrounding the Eegent, as the
Eegent himself, by the Sovereign. Every officer, how-
ever, can be removed by his immediate superior ; but it
depends on the chief with whom his appointment rests,
whether he shall be transferred to a similar post else-
where or simply dismissed. Thus, while no man can
be compelled to work with instruments he dislikes, no
subordinate is at the mercy of personal caprice or anti-
1 84 Across the Zodiac.
pathy. Promotion, judicial and administrative, ends
below the highest point. The judges of the Supreme
Court are named by the Sovereign — with the advice of
a Council, including the Eegents, the judges of that
Court, and the heads of the Philosophic and Educational
Institutes — from among the advocates and students of
law, or from among the ablest administrators who seem
to possess judicial faculties. The code is written and
simple. Every dubious point that arises in the course
of litigation is referred, by appeal or directly by the
judge who decides it, to the Chief Court, and all points
of interpretation thus referred, are finally settled by an
addition to the code at its periodical revision. The
Sovereign can erase or add at pleasure to this code.
But he can do so only in full Council, and must hear,
though he need not regard, the opinions of his advisers.
He can, however, suspend immediately till the next
meeting of the Council the enforcement of any article.
The Eegents are never named from among subordi-
nate officials, nor is a Eegent ever promoted to the
throne. It is held that the qualities required in an
absolute Sovereign are not such as are demanded from
or likely to be developed in the subordinate ruler of
a dominion however important, and that functions
like those of a Eegent, at least as important as those
of the Viceroy of India, ought not to be entrusted to
men trained in subaltern administrative duties. Among
the youths of greatest promise, in their eighth year, a
certain small number are selected by the chiefs of the
University, who visit for this purpose all the Nurseries
of the kingdom. With what purpose these youths
are separated from their fellows is not explained to
them. They are carefully educated for the highest
public duties. Year by year those deemed fitter for
less important offices are drafted off. There remain at
last the very few who are thought competent to the
functions of Eegent or Campta, and from among
these the Sovereign himself selects at pleasure his own
successor and the occupant of any vacant Eegency.
The latter, however, holds his post at first on proba-
tion, and can, of course, be removed at any time by the
Sovereign. If the latter should not before his death
have named his own successor, the Council by a
process of elimination is reduced to three, and these
cast lots which shall name the new Autocrat from
among the youths deemed worthy of the throne, of
whom six are seldom living at the same time. No
Prince is ever appointed under the age of fourteen
(twenty-seven) or over that of sixteen (thirty). No
Campta has ever abdicated; but they seldom live to
fall into that sort of inert indolence which may be
called the dotage of their race. The nature of their
functions seems to preserve their mental activity
longer than that of others ; and probably they are not
permitted to live when they have become manifestly
unfit or incapable to reign.
When first invited to visit the University, I had
hoped to make it only a stage and stepping-stone to
something yet more interesting — to visit the Arctic
hunters once more, and join them in the most exciting
of their pursuits ; a chase by the electric light of the
great Amphibia of the frozen sea-belt immediately
surrounding the permanent ice-cap of the Northern
Pole. For this, however, the royal licence was required ;
VOL. II. X
1 86 Across the Zodiac.
and, as when I made a similar request during the fur-
chase of the Southern season, I met with a peremptory
refusal. " There are two men in this world," said the
Prince, " who would entertain such a wish. I dare not
avow it ; and if there were a third, he would assuredly
be convicted of incurable lunacy, though on all other
points he were as cold-blooded as the President of the
Academy or the Vivisector-General." I did not tell
Eveena of my request till it had been refused ; and
if anything could have lessened my vexation at the
loss of this third opportunity, it would have been the
expression of her countenance at that moment. Indeed,
I was then satisfied that I could not have left her in
the fever of alarm and anxiety that any suspicion of
my purpose would have caused.
I seized, however, the opportunity of a winter
voyage in a small vessel, manned by four or five
ocean-hunters, less timid and susceptible to surface
disturbances than ordinary seamen. On such an ex-
cursion, Enva, though a far less pleasant companion,
was a less anxious charge than Eveena. We made for
the Northern coast, and ran for some hundred miles,
along a sea-bord not unlike that of Norway, but on a
miniature scale. Though in some former age this
hemisphere, like Europe, has been subject to glacial
action much more general and intense than at present,
its ice-seas and ice-rivers must always have been com-
paratively shallow and feeble. Pleaching at last a
break in the long line of cliff-guarded capes and fiords,
where the sea, half covered with low islands, eats a
broad and deep ingress into the land-belt, I disem-
barked, and made a day's land journey to the north-
ward. The ground was covered with a sheet of hard-
frozen snow about eighteen inches deep, with an upper
surface of pure ice. For the ordinary carriage, here
useless, was substituted a sledge, driven from behind
by an instrument something between a paddle-wheel
and a screw, worked, of course, by the usual electric
machinery. The cold was far more intense than I had
ever before known it; and the mist that fell at the
close of the very short zyda of daylight rendered it
all but intolerable. The Arctic circular thermometer
fell to within a few points from its minimum of — 50
Centigrade [?]. No flesh could endure exposure to
such an atmosphere ; and were not the inner mask
and clothing of soft leather pervaded by a constant
feeble current of electricity . . .
As we made our way back to the open sea, the
temptation to disobey the royal order was all but
irresistible. Xo fewer than three kargyndau were
within shot at one and the same time ; plunging from
the shore of an icy island to emerge with their prey —
a fish somewhat resembling the salmon in form and
flavour. My companions, however, were terrified at
the thought of disobedience to the law ; and as we had
but one mordyta (lightning-gun) among the party, and
the uncertainty of the air-gun had been before proven
to my cost, there was some force in their supplemen-
tary argumeut that, if I did not kill the kargynda, it
was probable that the kargynda might board us ; in
which event our case would be summarily disposed of,
without troubling the Courts or allowing time to apply,
even by telegraph, for the royal pardon. I was suggest-
ing, more to the alarm than amusement of the crew,
1 88 Across tJie Zodiac.
that we might close the hatches, and either carry the
regal beast away captive, or, at worst, dive and drown
him — for he cannot swim very far — when their objec-
tions were enforced in an unexpected manner. We
were drifting beyond shot of the nearest brute, when
the three suddenly plunged at once, and as if by concert,
and when they rose, were all evidently making for the
vessel, and within some eighty yards. I then learnt
a new advantage of the electric machinery, as compared
with the most powerful steam-engine. A pressure upon
a button, and a few seconds sufficed to exchange a speed
of four for one of twenty miles an hour ; while, instead
of sinking the vessel below the surface, the master
directed the engine to pump out all the liquid ballast
she contained. The waterspout thus sent forth half-
drowned the enemy which had already come within a
few yards of our starboard quarter, and effectually
scared the others. It was just as well that Enva, who
heartily hated the bitter cold, was snugly ensconced in
the warm cushions of the cabin, and had not, therefore,
the opportunity of giving to Eveena, on our return, her
version of an adventure whose alarming aspect would
have impressed them both more than its ludicrous side.
For half a minute I thought that I had, in sheer folly,
exposed half a dozen lives to a peril none the less real
and none the more satisfactory that, if five had been
killed, the survivor could not have so told the story as
to avoid laughing — or being laughed at.
Sweet and serene as was Eveena's smile of welcome,
it could not conceal the traces of more than mere de-
pression on her countenance. Heartily willing to ad-
minister an effective lesson to her tormentors, I seized
the occasion of the sunset meal to notice the weary and
harassed look she had failed wholly to banish.
" You look worse each time I return, Madonna. This
time it is not merely my absence, if it ever were so. I
will know who or what has driven and hunted you so."
Taken thus by surprise, every face but one bore witness
to the truth : Eveena's distress, Eunane's mixed relief
and dismay, shared in yet greater degree by Velna, who
knew less of me, the sheer terror and confusion of the
rest, were equally significant. The Martial judge who
said that " the best evidence was lost because colour
could not be tested or blushes analysed," would have
passed sentence at once. But if Eive's air of innocent
unconsciousness and childish indifference were not
sincere, it merited the proverbial praise of consummate
affectation, " more golden than the sun and whiter than
snow." Eveena's momentary glance at once drew mine
upon this "pet child," but neither disturbed her. Nor
did she overact her part. " Eive," said Enva one day,
"' never salts her tears or paints her blushes." As soon
as she caught my look of doubt —
" Have 1 done wrong ? " she said, in a tone half of
confidence, half of reproach. " Punish me, then, Clas-
fempta, as you please with Eveena's sandal."
The repartee delighted those who had reason to desire
any diversion. The appeal to Eveena disarmed my
unwilling and momentary distrust. Eveena, however,
answered by neither word nor look, and the party pre-
sently broke up. Eive crept close to claim some silent
atonement for unspoken suspicion, and a few minutes
had elapsed before, to the evident alarm of several con-
scious culprits, I sought Eveena in her own chamber.
1 90 Across the Zodiac.
In spite of all deprecation, I insisted on the explanation
she had evaded in public.
" I guess," I said, " as much as you can tell me about
' the four.' I have borne too long with those who have
made your life that of a hunted therne, and rendered
myself anxious and restless every day and hour that I
have left you alone. Unless you will deny that they
have done so Well, then, I will have peace for
you and for myself. I cannot leave you to their mercy,
nor can I remain at home for the next twelve dozen
days, like a chained watch-dragon. Pass them over ! "
(as she strove to remonstrate) ; " there is something new
this time. You have been harassed and frightened as
well as unhappy."
" Yes," she admitted, " but I can give nothing like a
reason. I dare not entreat you not to ask, and yet I
am only like a child, that wakes screaming by night,
and cannot say of what she is afraid. Ought she not
to be whipped ? "
" I can't say, bambina ; but I should not advise Eiv<-
to startle you in that way ! But, seriously, I suppose
fear is most painful when it has no cause that can be
removed. I have seen brave soldiers panic-stricken in
the dark, without well knowing why."
I watched her face as I spoke, and noted that while
the pet name I had used in the first days of our marriage,
now recalled by her image, elicited a faint smile, the
mention of Eive clouded it again. She was so unwilling
to speak, that I caught at the clue afforded by her
" It is Eive, then ? The little hypocrite ! She shall
find your sandal heavier than mine."
Winter. 1 9 1
"No, no!" she pleaded eagerly. "You have seen
what Eive' is in your presence ; and to me she is always
the same. If she were not, could I complain of her ? "
" And why not, Eveena ? Do you think I should
hesitate between you ? "
'• No !" she answered, with unusual decision of tone.
" I will tell you exactly what you would do. You would
take my word implicitly ; you would have made up your
mind before you heard her ; you would deal harder
measure to Eive than to any one, because she is your
pet ; you would think for once not of sparing the cul-
prit, but of satisfying me ; and afterwards "
She paused, and I saw that she would not conclude
in words a sentence I could perhaps have finished for
" I see," I replied, " that Eive is the source of your
trouble, but not what the trouble is. Eor her sake, do
not force me to extort the truth from her."
" I doubt whether she has guessed my misgiving,"
Eveena answered. " It may be that you are right —
that it is because she was so long the only one you were
fond of, that I cannot like and trust her as you do.
But . . . you leave the telegraph in my charge, under-
standing, of course, that it will be used as when you
are at home. So, after Davilo's warning, I have written
their messages for Eunane and the others, but I could
not refuse Eive's request to write her own, and, like
you, I have never read them."
" Why ? " I asked. " Surely it is strange to give her,
of all, a special privilege and confidence ? "
Eveena was silent. She could in no case have re-
proached me in words, and even the reproach of silence
192 Across the Zodiac.
was so unusual that I could not but feel it keenly. I
saw at that moment that for whatever had happened or
might happen I might thank myself ; might thank the
doubt I would not avow to my own mind, but could
not conceal from her, that Eveena had condescended
to something like jealousy of one whose childish sim-
plicity, real or affected, had strangely won my heart, as
children do win hearts hardened by experience of life's
roughness and evil.
" I know nothing," Eveena said at last : " yet some-
how, and wholly without any reason I can explain, I
fear. Eive, you may remember, has, as your com-
panion, made acquaintance with many households
whose heads you do not believe friends to you or the
Zinta. She is a diligent correspondent. She never
affects to conceal anything, and yet no one of us has
lately seen the contents of a note sent or received
There was nothing tangible in Eveena's suspicion.
It was most repugnant to my own feelings, and yet
it implanted, whether by force of sympathy or of
instinct, a misgiving that never left me again.
" My own," I answered, " I would trust your judg-
ment, your observation or feminine instinct and insight
into character, far sooner than my own conclusions
upon solid facts. But instincts and presentiments,
though we, are not scientifically ignorant enough to
disregard them, are not evidence on which we can act
or even inquire."
" No," she said. " And yet it is hard to feel, as I
cannot help feeling, that the thunder-cloud is forming,
that the bolt is almost ready to strike, and that you are
risking life, and perhaps more than life, out of a deli-
cacy no other man would show towards a child — since
child you will have her — who, I feel sure, deserves all
she might receive from the hands of one who would
have the truth at any cost."
" You feel," I answered, " for me as I should feel for
you. But is death so terrible to us ? It means leaving
you — I wish we knew that it does not mean losing for
ever, after so brief an enjoyment, all that is perishable
in love like ours — or it would not be worth fearing. I
don't think I ever did fear it till you made my life so
sweet. But life is not worth an unkindness or injustice.
Better die trusting to the last than live in the misery
and shame of suspecting one I love, or dreading treach-
erous malice from any hand under my own roof."
When I met Davilo the next morning, the grave and
anxious expression of his face — usually calm and serene
even in deepest thought, as are those of the experienced
members of an Order confident in the consciousness of
irresistible secret power — not a little disturbed me. As
Eveena had said, the thunder-cloud was forming; and a
chill went to my heart which in facing measurable and
open peril it had never felt.
" I bring you," he said, " a message that will not, I
am afraid, be welcome. He whose guest you were at
Serocasfe invites you to pay him an immediate visit ;
and the invitation must be accepted at once."
I drew myself up with no little indignation at the
imperative tone, but feeling at least equal awe at the
stern calmness with which the mandate was spoken.
"And what compels me to such haste, or to com-
pliance without consideration ? "
194 Across the Zodiac.
" That power," he returned, "which none can resist,
and to which you may not demur."
Seeing that I still hesitated — in truth, the summons
had turned my vague misgiving into intense though
equally vague alarm and even terror, which as un-
manly and unworthy I strove to repress, but which
asserted its domination in a manner as unwonted as
unwelcome — he drew aside a fold of his robe, and
showed within the silver Star of the Order, supported
by the golden sash, that marked a rank second only to
that of the wearer of the Signet itself. I understood
too well by this time, through conversations with him
and other communications of which it has been needless
to speak, the significance of this revelation. I knew
the impossibility of questioning the authority to which
I had pledged obedience. I realised with great amaze-
ment the fact that a secondary position on my own
estate, and a personal charge of my own safety, had
been accepted by a Chief of the Zinta.
" There is, of course," I replied at last, " no answer to
a mandate so enforced. But, Chief, reluctant as I am
to say it, I fear — fear as I have never done before ; and
yet fear I cannot say, I cannot guess what."
" There is no cause for alarm," he said somewhat con-
temptuously. " In this journey, sudden, speedy, and
made under our guard as on our summons, there is little
or none of that peril which has beset you so long."
" You forget, Chief," I rejoined, " that you speak to a
soldier, whose chosen trade was to risk life at the word
of a superior; to one whose youth thought no smile so
bright as that of naked steel, and had often ' kissed the
lips of the lightning ' ere the down darkened his own.
At any rate, you have told me daily for more than a
year that I am living under constant peril of assassina-
tion ; have I seemed to quail thereat ? If, then, I am
now terrified for the first time, that which I dread,
without knowing or dreaming what it is, is assuredly
a peril worse than any I have known, the shadow of a
calamity against which I have neither weapon nor
courage. It cannot be for myself that I am thus
appalled," I continued, the thought flashing into my
mind as I spoke it, " and there is but one whose life is
so closely bound with mine that danger to her should
bring such terror as this. I go at your bidding, but I
will not rro alone."
He paused for some time, apparently in perplexity,
certainly in deep thought, before he replied.
" As you will. One thing more. The slips of tafroo
with which you furnished me have been under the eyes
of which you have heard. This " (handing me the one
that bore no mark) " has passed, so far as the highest
powers of the sense that is not of the body can perceive,
through none but innocent hands. The hand from
which you received this" (the marked slip) "is spotted
with treason, and may to-morrow be red."
I was less impressed by this declaration than probably
would have been any other member of the Order. I
had seen on Earth the most marvellous perceptions of a
perfectly lucid vision succeeded, sometimes within the
space of the same day, by dreams or hallucinations the
most absolutely deceptive. I felt, therefore, more satis-
faction in the acquittal of Eunane, whom I had never
doubted, than trouble at the grave suspicion suggested
against Eive — a suspicion I still refused to entertain.
196 Across the Zodiac.
" You should enter your balloon as soon as the sunset
mist will conceal it," said Davilo. " By mid-day you
may reach the deep bay on the mid sea-belt of the
North, where a swift vessel will meet you and convey
you in two or three days by a direct course through the
canal and gulf you have traversed already, to the
port from which you commenced your first submarine
" You had better," I said, " make your instruction a
little more particular, or I shall hardly know how to
direct my course."
" Do not dream," he answered, " that you will be per-
mitted to undertake such a journey but under the safest
guidance. At the time I have named all will be ready
for your departure, and you have simply to sleep or read
or meditate as you will, till you reach your destination."
Eveena was not a little startled when I informed
her of the sudden journey before me, and my deter-
mination that she should be my companion. It was
unquestionably a trying effort for her, especially the
balloon voyage, which would expose her to the cold
of the mists and of the night, and I feared to the in-
tenser cold of the upper air. But I dared not leave her,
and she was pleased by a peremptory decision which
made her the companion of my absence, without leaving
room for discussion or question. The time for our
departure was drawing near when, followed by Eunane>
she came into my chamber.
" If we are to be long away," she said, " you must say
on whom my charges are to devolve."
" As you please," I answered, sure of her choice, and
well content to see her hand over her cares to Eunane,
who, if she lacked the wisdom and forbearance of
Eveena, could certainly hold the reins with a stronger
" Eive," she said, " has asked the charge of my flower-
bed ; but I had promised it, and "
"And you would rather give it," I answered, "to
Eunane ? Naturally ; and I should not care to allow
Eive the chance of spoiling your work. I think we may
now trust whatever is yours in those once troublesome
hands," looking at Eunane, "with perfect assurance
that they will do their best."
I had never before parted even from Eunane with
any feeling of regret ; but on this occasion an impulse
I could not account for, but have ever since been glad
to remember, made me turn at the last moment and
add to Eveena's earnest embrace a few words of affec-
tion and confidence, which evidently cheered and en-
couraged her deputy. The car that awaited us was of
the light tubular construction common here, formed of
the silvery metal zorinta. About eighteen feet in
length and half that breadth, it was divided into two
compartments ; each, with the aid of canopy and cur-
tains, forming at will a closed tent, and securing
almost as much privacy as an Arab family enjoys, or
opening to the sky. In that with which the sails and
machinery were connected were Davilo and two of his
attendants. The other had been carefully lined and
covered with furs and wrappings, indicating an atten-
tion to my companion which indeed is rarely shown to
women by their own lords, and which none but the
daughter of Esmo would have received even among the
brethren of the Order. Ere we departed I had arranged
198 Across the Zodiac.
her cushions and wrapped her closely in the warmest
coverings; and Hinging over her at last the kargynda skin
received from the Campta, I bade her sleep if possible
during our aerial voyage. There was need to provide
as carefully as possible for her comfort. The balloon
shot up at once above the evening mists to a height at
which the cold was intense, but at which our voyage
could be guided by the stars, invisible from below, and
at which we escaped the more dangerously chilling damp.
The wind that blew right in our teeth, caused by no
atmospheric current but by our own rapid passage,
would in a few r moments have frozen my face, perhaps
fatally, had not thick skins been arranged to screen us.
Even through these it blew with intense severity, and
I was glad indeed to cover myself from head to foot and
lie down beside Eveena. Her hand as she laid it on
mine was painfully cold; but the shivering I could
hardly suppress made her anxious to part in my favour
with some at least of the many coverings that could
hardly screen herself from the searching blast. Not at
the greatest height I reached among the Himalayas, nor
on the Steppes of Tartary, had I experienced a cold
severer than this. The Sun had just turned westward
when we reached the port at which we were to embark.
Despite the cold, Eveena had slept during the latter
part of our voyage, and was still sleeping when I placed
her on the cushions in our cabin. The sudden and
most welcome change from bitter cold to comfortable
warmth awakened her, as it at last allowed me to sleep.
Our journey was continued below the surface at a rate
of more than twelve hundred miles in the clay, a speed
which made observation through the thick but perfectly
transparent side windows of our cabin impossible. I
was indisposed for meditation, which could have been
directed to no other subject than the mysterious pur-
pose of our journey, and had not provided myself with
books. But in Eveena's company it was impossible
that the time should pass slowly or wearily.
In this balloon journey I had a specially advan-
tageous opportunity of observing the two moons —
velnaa, as they are called. Cavelna, or Caulna, the
nearer, in diameter about 8' or a little more than one-
fourth that of our Moon, is a tolerably brilliant object,
about 5000 miles from the surface. Moving, like all
planets and satellites, from west to east, it completes
its stellar revolution and its phases in less than seven
and a half hours ; the contrary revolution of the skies
prolongs its circuit around the planet to a period of ten
hours. Zeelna (Zevelna) returns to the same celestial
meridian in thirty hours ; but as in this time the starry
vault has completed about a rotation and a cpiarter in
the opposite direction, it takes nearly five days to
reappear on the same horizon. It is about 3' in
diameter, and about 12,000 miles from the surface.
The result of the combined motions is that the two
moons, to the eye, seem to move in opposite directions.
When we rose above the mists, Caulna was visible as a
very fine crescent in the west ; Zeelna was rising in the
east, and almost full ; but hardly a more brilliant object
than Venus when seen to most advantage from Earth.
Both moved so rapidly among the stars that their
celestial change of place was apparent from minute to
minute. But, as regarded our own position, the appear-
ance was as opposite as their direction. Zeelna, travers-
200 Across the Zodiac.
ing in twelve hours only one-fifth of the visible hemi-
sphere, while crossing in the same time 144 on the
zodiac — twelve degrees per hour, or our Moon's diameter
in two minutes and a half — was left behind by the stars ;
and fixing what I may call the ocular attention on her,
she seemed to stand still while they slowly passed her ;
thus making their revolution perceptible to sense as
it never is on Earth, for lack of a similar standard.
Caulna, rising in the west and moving eastwards,
crossed the visible sky in five hours, and passed through
the stars at the rate of 48 per hour, so that she seemed
to sail past them like a golden cloudlet or celestial
vessel driven by a slow wind. It happened this night
that she passed over the star Fomalhaut — an occultation
which I watched with great interest through an excel-
lent field-glass, but which lasted only for about half a
minute. About an hour before midnight the two moons
passed each other in the Eastern sky ; both gibbous at
the moment, like our Moon in her last quarter. The
difference in size and motion was then most striking ;
Caulna seeming to rush past her companion, and the
latter looking like a stationary star in the slowly moving-
( 2QI )
A PO STACY.
"We were received on landing by our former host and
conducted to his house. On this occasion, however, I
was not detained in the hall, but permitted at once to
enter the chamber allotted to us. Eveena, who had
exacted from me all that I knew, and much that I meant
to conceal, respecting the occasion of our journey, was
much agitated and not a little alarmed. My own
humble rank in the Zinta rendered so sudden and im-
perative a summons the more difficult to understand,
and though by this time well versed in the learning,
neither of us was familiar with the administration of
the Brotherhood. I was glad therefore on her account,
even more than on my own, when, a scratch at the door
having obtained admission for an amba, it placed before
me a message from Esmo requesting a private confer-
ence. Her father's presence set Eveena's mind at rest ;
since she had learned, strangely enough from myself,
what she had never known before, the rank he held
among the brethren.
" I have summoned you," he said as soon as I joined
him, " for more than one reason. There is but one,
however, that I need now explain. Important ques-
VOL. II. o
202 Across the Zodiac.
tions are as a rule either settled by the Chiefs alone in
Council, or submitted to a general meeting of the Order.
In this case neither course can be adopted. It would
not have occurred to myself that, under present circum-
stances, you could render material service in either of
the two directions in which it may be required. But
those by whom the cause has been prepared have asked
that you should be one of the Convent, and such a
request is never refused. Indeed, its refusal would
imply either such injustice as would render the whole
proceeding utterly incompatible with the first principles
of our cohesion, or such distrust of the person summoned
as is never felt for a member of the Brotherhood. I
would rather say no more on the subject now. Your
nerve and judgment will be sufficiently tried to-night ;
and it is a valuable maxim of our science that, in the
hours immediately preceding either an important deci-
sion or a severe trial, the spirit should be left as far as
possible calm and unvexed by vague shadows of that
which is to come."
The maxim thus expressed, if rendered into the lan-
guage of material medicine, is among those which every
man of experience holds and practically acts upon. I
turned the conversation, then, by inviting Esmo into
my own apartment; and I was touched indeed by the
eager delight, even stronger than I had expected, with
which Eveena welcomed her father, and inquired into
the minutest details of the home life from which she
had been, as it seemed to her, so long separated. What
was, however, specially characteristic was the delicate
care witli which, even in this first meeting with one of
A po stacy. 203
her own family, she contrived still to give the para-
mount place in her attention to her husband, and never
for a moment to let him feel excluded from a conversa-
tion with whose topics he was imperfectly acquainted,
and in which he might have been supposed uninterested.
The hours thus passed pleasantly away; and, except
when Kevima joined us at the evening meal, adding
a new and unexpected pleasure to Eveena's natural
delight in this sudden reunion, we remained undis-
turbed until a very low electric signal, sounding appa-
rently through several chambers at once, recalled Esmo's
mind to the duties before him.
" You will not," he said, " return till late, and I wish
you would induce Eveena to ensure, by composing her-
self to sleep before your return, that you shall not be
asked to converse until the morning."
He withdrew with Kevima, and, as instructed, I pro-
ceeded to change my dress for one of pure white adapted
to the occasion, with only a band of crimson around
the waist and throat, and to invest myself in the badge
of the Order. The turban which I wore, without at-
tracting attention, in the Asiatic rather than in the
Martial form, was of white mingled with red; a novelty
which seemed to Eveena's eyes painfully ominous. In
Martial language, as in Zveltic symbolism, crimson
generally takes the place of black as the emblem of
guilt and peril. When Esmo re-entered our chamber
for a moment to summon me, he was invested, as in the
.Shrine itself, in the full attire of his office, and I was
recalled to a recollection of the reverence due to the
head of the Brotherhood by the sudden change in
Eveena's manner. To her father, though a most re-
204 Across the Zodiac.
spectful, she was a fearlessly affectionate child. For
Clavelta she had only the reverence, deeply inter-
mingled with awe, with which a devout Catholic convert
from the East may approach for the first time some
more than usually imposing occupant of the Chair of
St. Peter. Before the arm that bore the Signet, and the
sash of gold, we bent knee and head in the deference
prescribed by our rules — a homage which the youngest
child in the public Nurseries would not dream of offer-
ing to the Campta himself. At a sign from his hand I
followed Esmo, hoping rather than expecting that Eveena
would obey the counsel indirectly addressed to her.
Traversing the same passages as before, save that a
slight turn avoided the symbolic bridge, and formally
challenged at each point as usual by the sentries, who
saluted with profoundest reverence the Signet of the
Order, we passed at last into the Hall of Initiation.
But on this occasion its aspect was completely
changed. A space immediately in front of what I may
call the veil of the Shrine was closed in by drapery of
white bordered with crimson. The Chiefs occupied, as
before, their seats on the platform. Some fifty mem-
bers of the Order sat to right and left immediately
below ; but Esmo, on this occasion, seated himself on
the second leftward step of the Throne, which, with the
silver light and the other mystic emblems, was unveiled
in the same strange manner as before at his approach.
Near the lower end of the small chamber thus formed,
crossing the passage between the seats on either hand,
was a barrier of the bright red metal I have more than
once mentioned, and behind it a seat of some sable ma-
terial. Behind this, to right and left, stood silent and
A po stacy. 205
erect two sentries robed in green, and armed with the
usual spear. A deep intense absolute silence prevailed,
from the moment when the last of the party had taken
his place, for the space of some ten minutes. In the
faces of the Chiefs and of some of the elder Initiates,
who were probably aware of the nature of the scene to
follow, was an expression of calm but deep pain and
regret ; crossed now and then by a shade of anxiety,
such as rarely appeared in that abode of assured peace
and profound security. On no countenance was visible
the slightest shadow of restlessness or curiosity. In
the changed aspect of the place, the changed tone of
its associations and of the feelings habitual to its fre-
quenters, there was something which impressed and
overawed the petulance of youth, and even the indiffe-
rence of an experience like my own. At last, stretch-
ing forth the ivory-like staff of mingled white and red,
which on this occasion each of the Chiefs had substi-
tuted for their usual crystal wand, Esmo spoke, not
raising his voice a single semitone above its usual
pitch, but with even unwonted gravity —
" Come forward, Asco Zvelta ! " he said.
The sight I now witnessed, no description could re-
present to one who had not seen the same. Parting the
drapery at the lower end, there came forward a figure
in which the most absolutely inexperienced eye could
not fail to recognise a culprit called to trial. " Came
forward," I have said, because I can use no other words.
But such was not the term which would have occurred to
any one who witnessed the movement. " "Was dragged
forward," I should say, did I attempt to convey the im-
pression produced; — save that no compulsion, no physical
206 Across the Zodiac.
force was used, nor were there any to use it. And yet the
miserable man approached slowly, reluctantly, shrinking
back as one who strives with superior corporeal power
exerted to force him onward, as if physically dragged
on step by step by invisible bonds held by hands un-
seen. So with white face and shaking form he reached
the barrier, and knelt as Esmo rose from his place, hon-
ouring instinctively, though his eyes seemed incapable
of discerning them, the symbols of supreme authority.
Then, at a silent gesture, he rose and fell back into the
chair placed for him, apparently unable to stand and
scarcely able to sustain himself on his seat.
" Brother," said the junior of the Chiefs, or he who
occupied the place farthest to the right ; — and now I
noticed that eleven were present, the last seat on the
right of him who spoke being vacant — "you have un-
veiled to strangers the secrets of the Shrine."
He paused for an answer ; and, in a tone strangely un-
natural and expressionless, came from the scarcely parted
lips of the culprit the reply —
" It is true."
" You have," said the next of the Chiefs, " accepted
reward to place the lives of your brethren at the mercy
of their enemies."
" It is true."
" You have," said he who occupied the lowest seat
upon the left. " forsworn in heart and deed, if not in
word, the vows by which you willingly bound yourself,
and the law whose boons you had accepted."
Again the same confession, forced evidently by some
overwhelming power from one who would, if he could,
have denied or remained silent.
Apo stacy. 207
" And to whom," said Esmo, interposing for the first
time, " have you thus betrayed us ? "
" I know not," was the reply.
" Explain," said the Chief immediately to the left of
the Throne, who, if there were a difference in the ex-
pression of the calm sad faces, seemed to entertain more
of compassion and less of disgust and repulsion towards
the offender than any other.
" Those with whom I spoke," replied the culprit, in
the same strange tone, " were not known to me, but gave
token of authority next to that of the Campta. They told
me that the existence of the Order had long been known,
that many of its members were clearly indicated by
their household practices, that their destruction was
determined; that I was known as a member of the
Order, and might choose between perishing first of their
victims and receiving reward such as I should name
myself for the information I could give."
" "What have you told ? " asked another of the Chiefs.
" I have not named one of the symbols. I have not
betrayed the Shrine or the passwords. I have told that
the Zinta is. I have told the meaning of the Serpent,
the Circle, and the Star, though I have not named
" And," said he on the left of the Throne, " naming
the hope that is more than all hope, recalling the power
that is above all power, could you dare to renounce
the one and draw on your own head the justice of the
other ? What reward could induce a child of the Light
to turn back into darkness ? What authority could
protect the traitor from the fate he imprecated and
accepted when he first knelt before the Throne ? "
2o3 Across the Zodiac.
" The hope was distant and the light was dim," the
offender answered. " I was threatened and I was
tempted. I knew that death, speedy and painless, was
the penalty of treason to the Order, that a death of pro-
longed torture might be the vengeance of the power
that menaced me. I hoped little in the far and dim
future of the Serpent's promise, and I hoped and feared
much in the life on this side of death."
" Do you know," asked the last inquirer again, " no
name, and nothing that can enable us to trace those
with whom you spoke or those who employed them ? "
" Only this," was the answer, "that one of them has
an especial hatred to one Initiate present," pointing to
myself ; " and seeks his life, not only as a child of the
Star, not only as husband of the daughter of Clavelta,
but for a reason that is not known to me."
" And," asked another Chief, " do you know what in-
strument that enemy seeks to use ? "
" One who has over her intended victim such influence
as few of her sex ever have over their lords ; one of
whom his love will learn no distrust, against whom his
heart has no guard and his manhood no wisdom."
A shiver of horror passed over the forms of the
Chiefs and of many who sat near them, incompre-
hensible to me till a sudden light was afforded by the
indignant interruption of Kevima, who sat not far from
" It cannot be," he cried, " or you can name her whom
" Be silent ! " Esmo said, in the cold, grave tone of a
president rebuking disorder, mingled with the deeper
displeasure of a priest repressing irreverence in the
midst of the most solemn religious rite. " None may
speak here till the Chiefs have ceased to speak."
None of the latter, however, seemed disposed to ask
another question. The guilt of the accused was con-
fessed. All that he could tell to guide their further in-
quiries had been told. To doubt that what was forced
from him was to the best of his knowledge true, was to
them, who understood the mysterious power that had
compelled the spirit and the lips to an unwilling con-
fession, impossible. And if it had seemed that further
information might have been extracted relative to my
own personal danger, a stronger tie, a deeper obligation,
bound them to the supposed object of the last obscure im-
putation, and none was willing to elicit further charges
or clearer evidence. Probably also they anticipated that,
when the word was extended to the Initiates, I should
take up my own cause.
" Would any brother speak ? " asked Esmo, when the
silence of the Chiefs had lasted for a few moments.
But his rebuke had silenced Kevima, and no one else
cared to interpose. The eyes of the assembly turned
upon me so generally and so pointedly, that at last I
felt myself forced, though against my own judgment,
" I have no question to ask the accused," I said.
" Then," replied Esmo calmly, " you have nothing
now to say. Give to the brother accused before us
the cup of rest."
A small goblet was handed by one of the sentries to
the miserable creature, now half-insensible, who awaited
our judgment. In a very few moments he had sunk
into a slumber in which his face was comparatively
2 1 o Across the Zodiac.
calm, and his limbs had ceased to tremble. His fate
was to be debated in the presence indeed of his body,
but in the absence of consciousness and knowledge.
" Has any elder brother," inquired Esmo, " counsel
to afford ? "
No word was spoken.
" Has any brother counsel to afford ? "
Again all were silent, till the glance which the Chief
cast in order along the ranks of the assembly fell upon
" One word," I said. " I claim permission to speak,
because the matter touches closely and cruelly my own
There was that inaudible, invisible, motionless " move-
ment," as some French reporters call it, of suprise
throughout the assembly which communicates itself
instinctively to a speaker.
" My own honour," I continued, " in the honour
dearer and nearer to me even than my own. What
the accused has spoken may or may not be true."
" It is true," interposed a Chief, probably pitying my
" May be true," I continued, " though I will not
believe it, to whomsoever his words may apply. That
no such treason as they have suggested ever for one
moment entered, or could enter, the heart of her who
knelt with me, in presence of many now here, before
that Throne, I will vouch by all the symbols we revere
in common, and with the life which it seems is alone
threatened by the feminine domestic treason alleged,
from whomsoever that treason may proceed. I will
accuse none, as I suspect none ; but I will say that the
Apostacy. 2 1 r
charge might be true to the letter, and yet not touch,
as I know it does not justly touch, the daughter of our
A deep relief was visible in the faces which had so
lately been clouded by a suspicion terrible to all.
Esmo's alone remained impassive throughout my vin-
dication, as throughout the apparent accusation and
silent condemnation of his daughter.
" Has any brother," he said, " counsel to speak respect-
ing the question actually before us ? "
One and all were silent, till Esmo again put the formal
question : —
" Has he who was our brother betrayed the brother-
From every member of the assembly came a clear
" Is he outcast ? "
Silence rather than any distinct sign answered in the
" Is it needful that his lips be sealed for ever ? "
One or two of the Chiefs expressed in a single sen-
tence an affirmative conviction, which was evidently
shared by all present except myself. Appealing by a
look to Esmo, and encouraged by his eye, I spoke —
" The outcast has confessed treason worthy of death.
That I cannot deny. But he has sinned from fear
rather than from greed or malice ; and to fear, courage
should be indulgent. The coward is but what Allah
has made him, and to punish cowardice is to punish the
child for the heritage his parents have inflicted. More-
over, no example of punishment will make cowards
brave. It seems to me, then, that there is neither justice
2 1 2 Across the Zodiac.
nor wisdom in taking vengeance upon the crime of
In but two faces, those of Esmo and of his next col-
league on the left, could I see the slightest sign of
approval. One of the other chiefs answered briefly and
decisively my plea for mercy.
" If," he said, " treason proceed from fear, the more
cause that a greater fear should prevent the treason of
cowardice for the future. The same motives that have
led the offender to betray so much would assuredly
lead him to betray more were he released ; and to
attempt lifelong confinement is to make the lives of
all dependent on a chance in order to spare one
unworthy life. The excuse which our brother has
pleaded may, we hope, avail with a tribunal which can
regard the conscience apart from the consequences. It
ought not to avail with us."
But the law of the Zinta, as I now learned, will not
allow sentence of death to be passed save by an abso-
lutely unanimous vote. It is held that if one judge
educated in the ideas of the Order, appreciating to the
full the priceless importance of its teaching and the
guilt of treason against it, is unpersuaded that there
exists sufficient cause for the supreme penalty, the
doubt is such as should preclude the infliction of that
penalty. It is, however, permitted and expected that
the dissentients, if few in number, much more a single
dissentient, shall listen attentively and give the most
respectful and impartial consideration to the arguments
of brethren, and especially of seniors. If a single mind
remains unmoved, its dissent is decisive. But it would
be the gravest dereliction of duty to persist from wil-
Apostacy. 2 1 3
fulness, obstinacy, or pride, in adhesion to a view per-
haps hastily expressed in opposition to authority and
argument. The debate to which my speech gave rise
lasted for two hours. Each speaker spoke but a few
terse expressive sentences ; and after each speech came
a pause allowing full time for the consideration of its
reasoning. Two points were very soon made clear to
all. The offender had justly forfeited his life ; and if his
death were necessary or greatly conducive to the safety
of the rest, the mercy which for his sake imperilled
worthier men and sacred truths would have been no
less than a crime. The thought, however, that weighed
most with me against my natural feeling was an expe-
rience to which none present could appeal. I had sat
on many courts-martial where cowardice was the only
charge imputed ; and in every case in which that charge
was proved, sentence of death had been passed and
carried out on a ground I could not refuse to consider
sufficient : — namely, that the infection of terror can best
be repressed by an example inspiring deeper terror than
that to which the prisoner has yielded. Compelled by
these precedents, though with intense reluctance, I
submitted at last to the universal judgment. Esmo
having collected the will, I cannot say the voices, of
the assembly, paused for a minute in silence.
" The Present has pronounced," he said at last. " Are
the voices of the Past assentient ? "
He looked around as if to see whether, under real or
supposed inspiration, any of those before him would
give in another name a judgment opposite to that in
which all had concurred. Instinctively I glanced to-
2 1 4 Across the Zodiac.
wards the Throue, but it remained vacant as ever.
Then, fixing his eyes for a few moments upon the cul-
prit, who started and woke to full consciousness under
his gaze — and receiving from the Chief nearest to him
on the left a chain of small golden circles similar to
that of the canopy, represented also on the Signet, while
he on the right held a small roll, on the golden surface
of which a long list of names was inscribed — our Supe-
rior pronounced, amid deepest stillness, in a low clear
tone, the form of excommunication ; breaking at the
appropriate moment one link from the chain, and, at a
later point, drawing a broad crimson bar through one
cipher on the roll : —
' ' Conscience-convict, tried in truth,
Judged in justice, doomed in ruth ;
Ours no more — once ours in vain —
Falls the Veil and snaps the Chain,
Drops the link and lies alone : —
Traitor to the Emerald Throne,
Alien from the troth we plight,
Nature native to the night ;
Trained in Light the Light to scorn,
Soul apostate and forsworn,
False to symbol, sense, and sign,
To the Serpent's pledge divine,
To the Wings that reach afar,
To the Circle and the Star ;
Recreant to the mystic rule,
Outlaw from the sacred school —
Backward is the Threshold crossed ;
Lost the Light, the Life is lost.
Go ; the golden page we blot :
Go ; forgetting and forgot !
Go — by final sentence shriven,
Be thy crime absolved in Heaven ! "
Once more the Throne and the Emblems behind and
Apostacy. 2 1 5
above it had been veiled in impenetrable darkness. In-
stinctively, as it seemed, every one present bad risen to
bis feet, and stood with bent head and downcast eyes
as the Condemned, rising mechanically, turned without
a word and passed away.
( 216 )
I was, perhaps, the only member of the assembly to
whom the doomed man was not personally known, and
to all of us the tie which had been severed was one
at least as close as that of natural brotherhood on
How long the pause lasted — how, or why, or when we
resumed our seats, even I knew not. The Shrine was
unveiled, and Esmo's next colleague spoke again —
" A seat among the elders has been three days vacant
by the departure of one well known and dear to all.
His colleagues have considered how best it may be filled.
The member they have selected is of the youngest in
experience here ; but from the first moment of his ini-
tiation it was evident to us that more than half the
learning of the Starlight had been his before. No-
thing could so deeply confirm our joy and confidence
in that lore, as to find that in another world the truths
we hold dearest are held with equal faith, that many of
our deepest secrets have there been sought and dis-
covered by societies not unlike our own. For that rea-
son, and because of that House, whereof now but two
members are left us, he is by wedlock and adoption the
Twili glit. 2 i 7
third, the elder brethren have unanimously resolved to
recommend to Clavelta, and to the Children of the Star,
that this seat," and he pointed to the vacant place,
"shall be filled by him who has but now expressed,
with a warmth seldom shown in this place, his love and
trust for the daughter of our Chief, the descendant of
Certainly not on my own account, but from the earnest
attachment and devotion they felt for Esmo, both per-
sonally as a long-tried and deservedly revered Chief,
and as almost the last representative of a lineage so
profoundly loved and honoured, the approval of all pre-
sent was expressed with a sudden and eager warmth
which deeply affected me ; the more that it expressed
an hereditary regard and esteem, not for myself but for
Eveena, rarely or never, even among the Zveltau, paid
to a woman. Esmo bent his head in assent, and then,
addressing me by name, called me to the foot of the
He held in his hand the golden sash and rose-coloured
wand which marked the rank about to be bestowed
on me. I felt very deeply my own incompetence and
ignorance ; and even had I valued more the proffered
honour, I should have been bound to decline it. But
at the third word I spoke, I was silenced with a stern
though peifectly calm severity. Flinging back the fold
of his robe that covered his left arm, with a gesture
that placed the Signet full before my eyes, he said —
" You have sworn obedience."
A soldier's instinct or habit, the mesmeric command
of Esmo's glance, and the awe, due less to my own feel-
ing than to the infectious reverence of others, which the
VOL. II. p
2 i S Across the Zodiac.
symbols and the oaths of the Order extorted, left me
no further will to resist. At the foot of the Throne I
received the investiture of my new rank ; and as I rose
and faced my brethren, every hand was lifted to the
lips, every head bent in salutation of their new leader.
Then, as I passed to the extreme place on the right,
they came forward to grasp my hand and utter a few
words of sympathy and kindness, in which a frank
spirit of affectionate comradeship, that reminded me
forcibly of the mess-tent and the bivouac fire, was
mingled with the sense of a deeper and more sacred tie.
Scarcely had we resumed our places than a startling
incident gave a new turn to the scene. Approaching
the barrier, a woman, veiled, but wearing the sash and
star, knelt for a moment to the presence of the Arch-
Teacher, and then, as the barrier was thrown open by
the sentries, came up to the dais.
" She," said the new-comer, " has a message for you,
Clavelta, for your Council, and particularly for the last
of its members."
" It is well," he answered.
The messenger took her seat among the Initiates, and
Esmo dismissed the assembly in the solemn form em-
ployed on the former occasion. Then, followed by the
twelve, and guided by the messenger (the gloved fingers
of whose left hand, as I observed, he very slightly
touched with his own right), he passed by another door
out of the Hall, and along one of the many passages of
the subterrene Temple, into a chamber resembling in
every respect an apartment in an ordinary residence.
Here, with her veil, as is permitted only to maidenhood,
drawn back from her face, but covering almost entirely
Twilight. 2 1 9
her neck and bosom, and clad in the vestal white, re-
clined with eyes nearly closed a young girl, in whose
countenance a beauty almost spiritual was enhanced
rather than marred by signs of physical ill-health pain-
fully unmistakable. "Warning us back with a slight
movement of his hand, Esmo approached her. Our
presence had at first seemed to cast her into almost
convulsive agitation ; but under his steady gaze and the
movement of his hands, she lapsed almost instantly into
what appeared to be profound slumber.
The practical information that concerned the present
peril menacing the Order delivered, and when it was
plain that no further revelation or counsel was to be
expected on this all-important topic, Esmo beckoned to
me, taking my hand in his own and placing it very
gently and carefully in that of the unconscious sybil.
The effect, however, was startling. Without unclosing
her eyes, she sprang into a sitting posture and clasped
my hand almost convulsively with her own long, thin
all but transparent fingers. Turning her face to mine,
and seeming, though her eyes were closed, as if she
looked intently into it, she murmured words at first
unintelligible, but which seemed by degrees to bear
clearer and clearer reference to some of the stormy
scenes of my youth in another world. Then — as one
looking upon pictures but partially intelligible to her,
and commenting on them as a girl who had never seen or
known the passions and the mutual enmity of men —
she startled me by breaking into the kind of chant in
which the peculiar verse of her language is commonly
delivered. My own thought of the moment was not her
220 Across tJie Zodiac.
guide. The Moslem battle-cry had rung too often in my
ears ever to be forgotten ; but up to that moment I had
never recalled to memory the words in which on my
last field I retorted upon my Arab comrades, when
flinching from a third charge against those terrible
"sons of Eblis," whose stubborn courage had already
twice hurled us back in confusion and disgrace with
a hundred empty saddles. At first her tone was one of
simple amaze and horror. It softened afterwards into
wonder and perplexity, and the oft-repeated rebuke or
curse was on its last recurrence spoken with more of
pitying tenderness and regret than of severity : —
' ' What ! those are human bosoms whereon the brute hath trod !
What ! through the storm of slaughter rings the appeal to God !
Through the smoke and flash of battle a single form is shown ;
O'er clang and crash and rattle peals out one trumpet-tone —
' Strike, for Allah and the Prophet ! let Eblis take his own ! '
" Strange ! the soul that, fresh from carnage, quailed not alone to face
The unfathomed depths of Darkness, the solitudes of Space !
Strange ! the smile of scorn, while nerveless dropped the sword-arm
from the sting,
On the death that scowled at distance, on the closing murder-ring.
Strange ! no crimson stain on conscience from the hand in gore
But Death haunts the death-dealer ; blood taints the life of blood !
" Strange ! the arm that smote and spared not in the tempest of the
Quivers with pitying terror — clings, for a maiden's life !
Strange ! the heart steel-hard to death-shrieks by girlish tears
The falcon's sheathless talons among the esve's brood !
But Death haunts the death-dealer ; blood taints the life of blood.
" The breast for woman's peril that dared the despot's ire,
Shall dauntless front, and scathless, the closing curve of fire.
The heart, by household treason stung home, that can forgive,
Shall brave a woman's hatred, a woman's wiles, and live.
Twilight. 2 2 r
" A woman's well-won fealty shall give the life he gave,
Love shall redeem the loving, and Sacrifice shall save.
But — God heal the tortured spirit, God calm the maddened mood ;
For Death haunts the death-dealer ; blood taints the life of blood ! "
Kelaxing but not releasing her grasp of my own hand,
she felt about with her left till Esmo gently placed
his own therein. Then, in a tone at first of deep and
passionate anxiety and eagerness, passing into one of
regretful admiration, and varying with the purport of
each utterance, she broke into another chant, in which
were repeated over and again phrases familiar in the
traditions and prophetic or symbolic formularies of the
Zinta : —
" Ever on deadliest peril shines the Star with steadiest ray ;
Ever quail the fiercest hunters when Kargynda turns at bay.
Close, Children of the Starlight! close, for the Emerald Throne !
Close round the life that closeth your life within the zone !
Rests the Golden Circle's glory, rests the silver gleam on her
Who shall rein Kargynda's fury with a thread of gossamer.
He metes not mortal measure, He pays not human price,
Who crowns that life's devotion with the death of sacrifice !
Woe worth the moment's panic ; woe worth the victory won !
But the Night is near the breaking when the Stranger claims his own.
" Ever on deadliest peril shines the Star with steadiest ray ;
Ever quail the fiercest hunters when Kargynda turns at bay.
No life is worth the living that counts each fleeting breath ;
No eyes from God averted can meet the eyes of Death.
Vague fear and spectral terrors haunt the soul that dwells in shade,
Nor e'er can crimson conscience confront the crimson blade.
From a cloud of shame and sorrow breaks the Light that shines afar,
And cold and dark the household spark that lit the Silver Star.
The triumph is a death-march ; the victor's voice a moan : —
But the Powers of Night are broken when the Stranger wins his own !
" Ever in blackest midnight shines the Star with brightest ray ;
. Woe to them that hunt the theme if Kargynda cross the way !
222 Across the Zodiac.
In the Home of Peace, Clavelta, can our fears thy spirit move ?
Look down ! whence conies the rescue to the household of thy love ?
As the All-Commander's lightning falls the Vengeance from above !
A shriek from thousand voices ; a thunder crash ; a groan ;
A thousand homes in mourning — a thousand deaths in one !
Woe to the Sons of Darkness, for the Stranger wields his own !
Oh, hide that scene of horror in the deepest shades of night !
Look upward to the welkin, where the Vessel fades from sight. . .
But the Veil is rent for ever by the Hand that veiled the Shrine ;
And, on a peace of ages, the Star of Peace shall shine ! "
Esmo listened with the anxious attention of one who
"believed that her every word had a real and literal
meaning; and his face was overclouded with a calm
but deep sadness, which testified to the nature of the
impression made on his mind by language that hardly
conveyed to my own more than a dim and general pre-
diction of victory, won through scenes of trial and
trouble. But when she had closed, a quiet satisfaction
in what seemed to be the final promise of triumph to
the Star, at whatever cost to the noblest of its adherents,
was all that I could trace in his countenance.
The sibyl fell back as the last word passed her lips,
with a sigh of relief, into what was evidently a pro-
found and insensible sleep. Those around me must
have witnessed such scenes at least as often as I ; but
it was plain that the impression made, even on the
experienced Chiefs of the Order, was far deeper than
had affected myself. I should hardly have been able to
remember the words of the prophecy, but for subsequent
conversation thereon with Eveena, when one part had
been fulfilled and the rest was on the eve of a too
terribly truthful fulfilment ; but for the events that
fixed their prediction in my mind — it may be in terms
Twili? Jit. 22
a little more precise than those actually employed,
though I have endeavoured to record these with con-
Led by Esmo, we passed along another gallery into
the small chamber where met the secret Council of the
Order, and long and anxious were the debates wherein
the revelations of the dreamer were treated as convey-
ing the most certain and unquestionable warning. The
first rays of morning were stealing through the mists
into the peristyle of our host's dwelling before I re-
entered Eveena's chamber. She was slumbering, but
restlessly, and so lightly that she sprang up at once on
my entrance. For a few moments all other thought
was lost in the delight of my return after an absence
whose very length had alarmed her, despite her father's
previous assurance. But as at last she drew back
sufficiently to look into my face, its expression seemed
to startle and sadden her. The questions that sprang
to her lips died there, as she probably saw in my eyes
a look not only of weariness and perplexity, but of pro-
found reluctance to speak of what had passed. Express-
ing her sympathy only by look and touch, she began
to unclasp my robe at the throat, aware that my only
wish was for rest, and content to postpone her own
anxiety and natural curiosity. Then, as the golden sash
which I had not removed met her sight, she looked up
for a moment with a glance of natural pride and fond-
ness, intensely gratified by the highly-prized honour
paid to her husband ; then bent low and kissed my
hand with the gesture wherewith the presence of a
superior is acknowledged by the members of the
224 Across the Zodiac.
" Used as my earlier life was, Eveena, to the Eastern
prostrations of my own world, I bate all that recals
them ; and if I must accept, as I fulfil, these forms in
the Halls of the Zinta, let me never be reminded of
them by you."
THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW.
If I could have endured to describe to Eveena the
terrible trial scene, that which occurred before she had
the chance to question me would have certainly sealed
my lips. The past night had told upon me as no
fatigue, no anxiety, no disaster of my life on Earth had
ever done. I awoke faint and exhausted as a nervous
valetudinarian, and I suppose my feeling must have
been plainly visible in my face, for Eveena would not
allow me to rise from the cushions till she had sum-
moned an amba and procured the material of a morning
meal, though the hour was noon. Far too considerate
to question me then, she was perhaps a little disap-
pointed that, almost before I had dressed, a message
from her father summoned me to his presence.
" It is right," he said quietly, and with no show of
feeling, though his face was somewhat pale, " that you
should be acquainted with the fulfilment of the sentence
you assisted to pass. The outcast was found this morn-
ing dead in his own chamber. Nay, you need not start !
We need no deathsman ; alike by sudden disease, by
suicide, by accident, our doom executes itself. But
226 Across the Zodiac.
enough of this. I accepted the vote which invested
you with the second rank in our Order, less because I
think you will render service to it here than that I
desired you to possess that entire knowledge of its
powers and secrets which might enable you to plant a
branch or offshoot where none but you could carry it.
. . . That you will soon leave this world seemed to me
probable, before the anticipations of practical prudence
were confirmed by the voice of prophecy. Your Astronaut
shall be stored with all of which I know you have need,
and with any materials whose use I do not know that
you may point out. To remove it from Asnyca would
now be too dangerous. If you receive tidings that shall
bring you again into its neighbourhood, do not lose
the opportunity of re-entering it. . . . And now let me
take leave of you, as of a dear friend I may not meet
" Do you know," I said, more touched by the tone
than by the words, " that Eveena asked and I gave a
promise that when I do re-enter it she shall be my
companion ? "
" I did not know it, but I took for granted that she
would desire it, and I should have been grieved to doubt
that you would assent. I cannot disturb her peace by
saying to her what I have just said to you, and must
part from her as on any ordinary occasion."
That parting, happily, I did not witness. Before
evening we re-entered our vessel, and returned home
without any incident worthy of mention.
To my surprise, my return plunged me at once into
the kind of vexation which Eveena had so anxiously
endeavoured to spare me, and which I had hoped
The Valley of the Shadow. 227
Eunane's greater decision and less exaggerated tender-
ness would have avoided. She seemed excited and
almost fretful, and before we had been half an hour at
home had greeted me with a string of complaints which,
on her own showing, seemed frivolous, and argued as
much temper on her part as customary petulance on
that of others. On one point, however, her report con-
firmed the suggestions of Eveena's previous experience.
She had wrested at once from Eive^s hand the pencil
that had hitherto been used in absolute secrecy, and the
consequent quarrel had been sharp enough to suggest,
if not to prove, that the privilege was of practical as
well as sentimental moment. Though aggravated by
no rebuke, my tacit depreciation of her grievances
irritated Eunane to an extreme of petulance unusual
with her of late ; which I bore so long as it was directed
against myself, but which, turned at last on Eveena,
wholly exhausted my patience. But no sooner had I
dismissed the offender than Eveena herself interposed,
with even more than her usual tenderness for Eunane.
" Do not blame my presumption," she said ; " do not
think that I am merely soft or weak, if I entreat you to
take no further notice of Eunane's mood. I cannot but
think that, if you do, you will very soon repent it."
She could not or would not give a reason for her in-
tercession ; but some little symptoms I might have seen
without observing, some perception of the exceptional
character of Eunane's outbreak, or some unacknowledged
misgiving accordant with her own, made me more than
willing to accept Eveena's wish as a sufficient cause for
forbearance. When we assembled at the morning meal
Eunane appeared to be conscious of error ; at all events,
228 Across the Zodiac.
her manner and temper were changed. Watching her
closely, I thought that neither shame for an outbreak
of unwonted extravagance nor fear of my displeasure
would account for her languor and depression. But
illness is so rare among a race educated for countless
generations on principles scientifically sound and sani-
tary, inheriting no seeds of disease from their ancestry,
and safe from the infection of epidemics long extirpated,
that no apprehension of serious physical cause for her
changes of temper and complexion entered into my
mind. To spare her when she deserved no indulgence
was the surest way to call forth Eunane's best impulses ;
and I was not surprised to find her, soon after the party
had dispersed, in Eveena's chamber. That all the
amends I could desire had been made and accepted was
sufficiently evident. But Eunane's agitation was so
violent and persistent, despite all Eveena's soothing, that
I was at last seriously apprehensive of its effect upon
the latter. The moment we were alone Eveena said —
" I have never seen illness, but if Eunane is not ill,
and very ill, all I have gathered in my father's house-
hold from such books as he has allowed me, and from
his own conversation, deceives me wholly ; and yet no
illness of which I have ever heard in the slightest degree
" I take it to be," I said, " what on Earth women call
hysteria and men temper."
To this opinion, however, I could not adhere when,
watching her closely, I noticed the evident lack of
spirit and strength with which the most active and
energetic member of the household went about her usual
pursuits. A terrible suspicion at first entered my mind,
The Valley of the Shadow. 229
but was wholly discountenanced by Eveena, who insisted
that there was no conceivable motive for an attempt to
injure Eunane ; while the idea that mischief designed
for others had unintentionally fallen on her was ex-
cluded by the certainty that, whatever the nature of her
illness, if it were such, it had commenced before our
return. Long before evening I had communicated with
Esmo, and received from him a reply which, thougli
exceedingly unsatisfactory, rather confirmed Eveena's
impression. The latter had taken upon herself the care
of the evening meal ; but, before we could meet there,
my own observation had suggested an alarm I dared not
communicate to her — one which a wider experience
than hers could neither verify nor dispel. Among symp-
toms wholly alien, there were one or two which sent a
thrill of terror to my heart ; — which reminded me of the
most awful and destructive of the scourges wherewith my
Eastern life had rendered me but too familiar. It was
not unnatural that, if carried to a new world, that fear-
ful disease should assume a new form; but how could
it have been conveyed? how, if conveyed, could its in-
cubation in some unknown vehicle have been so Ion" ?
and how had it reached one, and one only, of my house-
hold — one, moreover, who had no access to such few
relics of my own world as I had retained, of which
Eveena had the exclusive charge ? All Esmo's know-
ledge, even were he within reach, could hardly help me
here. I dared, of course, suggest my apprehension to
no one, least of all to the patient herself. As, towards
evening, her languor was again exchanged for the
feverish excitement of the previous night, I seized on
some petulant word as an excuse to confine her to her
230 Across the Zodiac.
room, and, selfishly enough, resolved to invoke the help
of the only member of the family who should, and per-
haps would, he willing to run personal risk for the sake
of aiding Eunane in need and protecting Eveena. I
had seen as yet very little of Velna, Eunane's school
companion ; but now, calling her apart, I told her
frankly that I feared some illness of my own Earth had
by some means been communicated to her friend.
" You have here," I said, " for ages had no such dis-
eases as those which we on Earth most dread ; those
which, communicated through water, air, or solid par-
ticles, spread from one person to another, endangering
especially those who come nearest to the sufferers.
Whoever approaches Eunane risks all that I fear for
her, and that ' all' means very probably speedy death.
To leave her alone is impossible ; and if I cannot report
that she is fully cared for in other hands, no command,
nothing short of actual compulsion, will keep Eveena
away from her."
The girl looked up with a steady frank courage and
unaffected readiness I had not expected.
" I owe you much, Clasfempta, and still more per-
haps to Eveena. My life is not so precious that I
should not be ready to give it at need for either of you ;
and if I should lose Eunane, I would prefer not to live
to remember my loss."
The last words reminded me that to her who spoke
death meant annihilation ; a fact which has deprived
the men of her race of nearly every vestige of the calm
courage now displayed by this young girl, indebted as
little as any human being could be to the insensible
influences of home affection, or the direct moral teach-
The Valley of the Shadow. 2 3 r
ing which is sometimes supposed to be a sufficient sub-
stitute. I led her at once into her friend's chamber,
and a single glance satisfied me that my apprehensions
were but too well-founded. Eemaining long enough to
assure the sufferer that the displeasure I had affected
had wholly passed away, and to suggest the only mea-
sures of relief rather than of remedy that occurred to
me, I endeavoured for a few moments to collect my
thoughts and recover the control of my nerves in soli-
tude. In my own chamber Eveena would assuredly
have sought me, and I chose therefore one of those as
yet unoccupied. It did not take long to convince me that
no ordinary resources at my command, no medical ex-
perience of my own, no professional science existing
among a race who probably never knew the disease in
question, and had not for ages known anything like
it, could avail me. My later studies in the occult
science of Eastern schools had not furnished me with
any antidote in which I believed on Earth, and if
they had, it was not here available. Despair rather
than hope suggested an appeal to those which the ana-
logous secrets of the Starlight might afford. Anxiety,
agitation, personal interest so powerful as now disturbed
me, are generally fatal to the exercise of the powers
recently placed at my command ; so recently that, but
for Terrestrial experience, I should hardly have known
how to use them. But the arts which assist in and
facilitate that tremendous all-absorbing concentration
of will on which the exertion of those powers depends,
are far more fully developed in the Zveltic science than
in its Earthly analogues. A desperate effort, aided by
those arts, at last controlled my thoughts, and turned
232 Across the Zodiac.
them from the sick-room to that distant chamber in
which I had so lately stood.
I seemed to stand beside her, and at once to be aware
that my thought was visible to the closed eyes. From
lips paler than ever, words — so generally resembling
those I had previously heard that some readers may
think them the mere recollection thereof — appeared to
reach my sense or my mind as from a great distance,
spoken in a tone of mingled pity, promise, and reproof : —
1 ' What is youth or sex or beauty in the All-Commander's sight ?
For the arm that smote and spared not, shall His wisdom spare to
Yet, love redeems the loving ; yet in thy need avail
The Soul whose light surrounds thee, the faith that will not fail.
Thy lips shall soothe the terror, call to yon couch afar
The solace of the Serpent, the shadow of the Star !
Strength shall sustain the strengthless, nor the soft hand loose its
Of the hand it trusts and clings to — till another meet its clasp. . . .
— Steel-hard to man's last anguish, wax-soft to woman's mood ! —
Death quits not the death-dealer ; blood haunts the life of blood ! "
Eeturning to the peristyle, I encountered Eveena,
who had been seeking me anxiously. Much alarmed
for her, I bade her return at once to her room. She
obeyed as of course, equally of course surprised and a
little mortified ; while I, marvelling by what conceiv-
able means the plague of Cairo or Constantinople could
have been conveyed across forty million miles of space
and some two years of Earthly time, paced the peristyle
for a few minutes. As I did so, my eye fell on the
roses which grew just where chance arrested my steps.
If they do not afford an explanation which scientific
The Valley of the Shadow. 253
medicine will admit, I can suggest no other. But, if it
were so, how fearfully true the warning ! — by what a
mysterious fate did death dog my footsteps, and <: blood
haunt the life of blood ! "
The reader may not remember that the central
chamber of the women's apartments, next to which was
Eunane's, had been left vacant. This I determined to
occupy myself, and bade the girls remove at once to
those on its right, as yet unallotted. I closed the room,
threw off my dress, and endeavoured by means of the
perfumed shower-bath to drive from my person what
traces of the infection might cling to it; for Eveena
had the keys of all my cases and of the medicine-chest,
and I could not make up my mind to reclaim them by
a simple unexplained message sent by an amba, or,
still worse, by the hands of Enva or Eive. I laid the
clothes I had worn on one of the shelves of the wall,
closing over them the crystal doors of the sunken cup-
board ; and, having obtained through the ambau a dress
which I had not worn since my return, and which
therefore could hardly have about it any trace of infec-
tion, I sought Eveena in her own room.
That something had gone wrong, and gravely wrong,
she could not but know ; and I found her silent and
calm, indeed, but weeping bitterly, whether for the ap-
prehension of danger to me, or for what seemed want
of trust in her. I asked her for the keys, and she gave
them ; but with a mute appeal that made the conceal-
ment I desired, however necessary, no longer possible.
Gently, cautiously as I could, but softening, not hiding,
any part of the truth, I gave her the full confidence to
which she was entitled, and which, once forced out of
VOL. II. Q
234 Across the Zodiac.
the silence preserved for her sake, it was an infinite
relief to give. If I could not observe equal gentleness
of word and manner in absolutely forbidding her to
approach either Eunane's chamber or my own, it was
because, the moment she conceived what I was about
to say, her almost indignant revolt from the command
was apparent. For the first and last time she distinctly
and firmly refused compliance, not merely with the
kindly though very decided request at first spoken, but
with the formal and peremptory command by which I
endeavoured to enforce it.
" You command me to neglect a sister in peril and
suffering," she said. " It is not kind ; it is hardly worthy
of you ; but my first duty is to you, and you have the
right, if you will, to insist that I shall reserve my life
for your sake. But you command me also to forsake
you in danger and in sorrow ; and nothing but the abso-
lute force you may of course employ shall compel me
to obey you in that."
" I understand you, Eveena ; and you, in your turn,
must think and feel that I intend to express neither
displeasure nor pain ; that I mean no harshness to you,
no less respect as well as love than I have always
shown you, when I say that obey you shall; that the
same sense of duty which impels you to refuse obliges
me to enforce my command. At no time would I have
allowed you to risk your life where others might be
available. But if you were the only one who could
help, I should, under other circumstances, have felt
that the same paramount duty that attaches to me
attached in a lighter degree to yourself. Now, as you
well know, the case is different; and even were Eunane
The Valley of the Shadow.
not quite safe in my hands and in Velna's, you must
not run a risk that can be avoided. You will promise
me to remain on this side the peristyle or in the further
half of it, or I must confine you perforce ; and it is not
kind or right in this hour of trouble to impose upon me
so painful a task."
With every tone, look, and caress that could express
affection and sympathy, Eveena answered —
" Do what seems your duty, and do not think that I
misunderstand your motive or feel the shadow of humi-
liation or unkindness. Make me obey if you can, punish
me if I disobey ; but obey you, when you tell me, for my
own life's sake or for any other, to desert you in the hour
of need, of danger, and of sorrow, I neither will nor can."
I cut short the scene, bidding her a passionate fare-
well in view of the probability that wc should not meet
again. I closed the door behind me, having called her
whom at this moment and in this case I could best trust,
because her worse as well as her better qualities were
alike guarantees for her obedience.
" Enva," I said, " you will keep this room till I release
you ; and you will answer it to me, as the worst fault
you can commit, if Eveena passes this threshold, under
whatever circumstances, until I give her permission, or
until, if it be beyond my power to give it, her father
takes the responsibilities of my home upon himself."
I procured the sedatives which might relieve the
suffering I could not hope to cure. I wrote to Esmo,
stating briefly but fully the position as I conceived it ;
and, on a suggestion from Eive, I despatched another
message to a female physician of some repute — one of
those few women in Mars who lead the life and do the
236 Across the Zodiac.
work of men, and for whose attendance, as I remembered,
Eunane had expressed a strong theoretical preference.
From that time I scarcely left her chamber save for
a few minutes, and Velna remained constantly at her
friend's side, save when, to give her at least a chance of
escape, I sent her to her room to bathe, change her
dress, and seek the fresh air for the half hour during
which alone I could persuade her to leave the sufferer.
The claftare (man- woman) physician came, but on learn-
ing the nature of the disease, expressed intense indigna-
tion that she had been summoned to a position of so
much danger to herself.
I answered by a contemptuous inquiry regarding the
price for which she would run so much risk as to
remain in the peristyle so long as I might have need
of her presence ; and, for a fee which would ensure her
a life-income as large as that secured to Eveena herself,
she consented to remain within speaking distance for
the few hours in which the question must be decided.
Eunane was seldom insensible or even delirious, and
her quick intelligence caught very speedily the meaning
of my close attendance, and of the distress which neither
Velna nor I could wholly conceal. She asked and
extracted from me what I knew of the origin of her
illness, and answered, with a far stronger feeling than
I should have expected even from her —
" If I am to die, I am glad it should be through
trying to serve and please Eveena. ... It may seem
strange, Clasfempta," she went on presently, " scarcely
possible perhaps ; but my love for her is not only
greater than the love I bear you, but is so bound up
with it that I always think of you together, and love
The Valley of the Shadow. 237
you the better that I love her, and that you love her so
much better than me. . . . But," she resumed later, " it
is hard to die, and die so young. I had never known
what happiness meant till I came here. ... I have
been so happy here, and I was happier each day in
feeling that I no longer made Eveena or you less happy.
Ah ! let me thank you and Eveena while I can for
everything, and above all for Velna. . . . But," after
another long pause, " it is terrible and horrible — never
to wake, to move, to hear your voices, to see you, to look
upon the sunlight, to think, or even to dream again !
Once, to remove a tooth and straighten the rest, they
made me senseless ; and that sinking into senselessness,
though I knew I should waken in a minute, was hor-
rible ; and — to sink into senselessness from which I
shall never waken ! "
She was sinking fast indeed, and this terror of death,
so seldom seen in the dying, grew apparently deeper and
more intense as death drew near. I could not bear it,
and at last took my resolve and dismissed Velna, for-
bidding her to return till summoned.
" Ah ! " said Eunane, " you send her away that she may
not see the last. Is it so near ? "
" No, darling ! " I replied (she, like Eveena, had learnt
the meaning of one or two expressions of human affec-
tion in my own tongue), " but I have that to say which
I would not willingly say in her presence. You dread
death not as a short terrible pain, and for you it will
not be so, not as a short sleep, but as eternal senseless-
ness and nothingness. Has it never seemed to you
strange that, loving Eveena as I do, /do not fear to die ?
Though you did not know it, I have lived almost since
238 Across the Zodiac.
first you knew me under the threat of death ; and death
sudden, secret, without warning, menacing me every day
and every hour. And yet, though death meant leaving
her and leaving her to a fate I could not foresee, I have
been able to look on it steadily. Kneeling here, I know
that I am very probably giving my life to the same end
as yours. I do not fear. That may not seem strange
to you; but Eveena knows all I know, and I could
scarcely keep Eveena away. So loving each other, we
do not fear to die, because we believe, we know, that
that in us which thinks, and feels, and loves will live ;
that in death we lay aside the body as we lay aside our
worn-out clothing. If I thought otherwise, Eunane, I
could not bear this parting."
She clasped my hands, almost as much surprised and
touched, I thought, for the moment by the expression
of an affection of which till that hour neither of us
were fully aware, as by the marvellous and incredible
assurance she had heard.
" Ah ! " she said, " I have heard her people are strange,
and they dream such things. No, Clasfempta, it is a
fancy, or you say it to comfort me, not because it is
The expression of terror that again came over her
face was too painful for endurance. To calm that terror
I would have broken every oath, have risked every
penalty. But in truth I could never have paused to
ask what in such a case oath or law permitted.
" Listen, Eunane," I said, " and be calm. Not only
Eveena, not only I, but hundreds, thousands, of the best
and kindliest men and women of your world hold this
faith as fast as we do. You feel what Eveena is. "What
The Valley of the Shadow. 239
she is and what others are not, she owes to this trust : —
to the assurance of a Power unseen, that rules our lives
and fortunes and watches our conduct, that will exact
an account thereof, that holds us as His children, and
will never part with us. Do you think it is a lie that
has made Eveena what she is ? "
" But you think, you do not know."
" Yes, I know ; I have seen." Here a touch, break-
ing suddenly upon that intense concentration of mind
and soul on a single thought, violently startled me,
gentle as it was ; and to my horror I saw that Eveena
was kneeling with me by the couch.
" Eemember," she said, in the lowest, saddest whisper,
" ' the Veil that guards the Shrine.' "
" No matter, Eveena," I answered in the same tone,
the pain at my heart suppressing even the impulse of
indignation, not with her, but with the law that could
put such a thought into her heart. " Neither penalty
nor oath should silence me now. Whether I break our
law I know not; but I would forfeit life here — I would
forfeit life hereafter, rather than fail a soul that rests on
mine at such a moment."
The clasp of her hand showed how thoroughly, de-
spite the momentary doubt, she felt with me ; and I could
not now recur to that secondary selfishness which had
so imperiously repelled her from the sick-chamber.
" I have seen," I repeated, as Eunane still looked
earnestly into my face, " and Eveena has seen at the
same moment, one long ages since departed this world
— the Teacher of this belief, the Founder of that Society
which holds it, the ancestor of her own house — in bodily
form before us."
240 Across the Zodiac.
" It is true," said Eveena, in answer to Eunane's
" And I," I added, " have seen more than once in my
own world the forms of those I have known in life
recalled, according to promise, to human eyes."
The testimony, or the contagion of the strong un-
doubting confidence we felt therein, if they did not
convince the intellect, changed the tone of thought and
feeling of the dying girl. Too weak now to reason, or
to resist the impression enforced upon her mind by
minds always far more powerful than her own in its
brightest hours, she turned instinctively from the
thought of blackness, senselessness eternal, to that
of a Father whose hand could uphold, of the wings
that can leap the grave. Her left hand clasped in
mine, her right in Eveena's, — looking most in my face }
because weakness leant on strength even more than
love appealed to love — Eunane spent the remaining
hours of that night in calm contentment and peace.
Perhaps they were among the most perfectly peaceful
and happy she had known. To strong, warm, shelter-
ing affection she had never been used save in her new
home ; and in the love she received and returned there
was much too strange and self-contradicting to be satis-
factory. But no shadow of jealousy, doubt, or contra-
dictory emotion troubled her now : assured of Eveena's
sisterly love as of my own hardly and lately won trust
The light had been long subdued, and the chamber
was dim as dimmest twilight, when suddenly, with a
smile, Eunane cried —
The Valley of the Shadow. 241
"It is morning already! and there, — why, there is
She stretched out her arms as if to greet the one
creature she had loved — perhaps more dearly than she
loved those now beside her. The hands dropped ; and
Eveena's closed for ever on the sights of this "world the
eyes "whose last vision had been of another.
( 2 4 2 )
Leading Eveena from the room, I hastily dictated every
precaution that could diminish the danger to her and
others. Velna had run risks that could not well be in-
creased, and on her and on myself must devolve what
remained to be done. I sent an amba to summon
Davilo, gathered the garments that Eveena had thrown
off, and removed them to the death-chamber. When the
first arrangements were made, and I had paid the fee of
Astona, the woman-physician, I passed out into the gar-
den, and Davilo met me at the door of the peristyle. A
few words explained all that was necessary. It was still
almost dark ; and as we stood close by the door, speak-
ing in the low tone partly of sadness, partly of pre-
caution, two figures were dimly discernible just inside,
and we caught a few broken words.
" You have heard," said a harsh voice, which seemed
to be Astona's, "there is no doubt now. You have
your part to play, and can do it quickly and safely."
I paid little attention to words whose dangerous
significance would at another moment have been plain
to me. But Davilo, greatly alarmed, laid his hand
Darker Yet. 243
upon my arm. As he did so, another voice thrilled
me with intensest pain and amazement.
" Be quick to bear your message," Eive said, in rapid
guarded tones. " They have means of vengeance cer-
tain and prompt, and they never spare."
Astona departed without seeing us. Eive closed the
door, and Davilo and I, hastily and unperceived, fol-
lowed the spy to the gate of the enclosure. Some one
waited for her there. What passed we could not hear ;
hut, as we saw Astona and another depart, Davilo spoke
imprudently aloud —
" She has the secret, and she must die. " Nay " (as
I would have expostulated), " she is spy, traitress, and
assassin, and merits her doom most richly."
" Hist ! " said I, " your words may have fallen into
other ears ; " for I thought that beyond the wall I dis-
cerned a crouching figure. If that of a man, however,
it was too far off, and dressed in colours too dark, to be
clearly seen; and in another instant it had certainly
" Eemember," he urged, " you have heard that one
quite as dangerous is under your own roof ; and, once
more, it is not only your life that is at stake. What
you call courage, what seems to us sheer folly, may
cost you and others what you value far more than your
life. An error of softness now may make your future
existence one long and useless remorse."
Half-an-hour later, having warned the women to
their rooms — ordering a variety of disinfecting measures
in which Martial science excelled while they were
needed there — I opened the door of the death chamber
244 Across the Zodiac.
to those who carried in a coffer hollowed out of a dark,
exceedingly dense natural stone, and half-filled with a
liquid of enormous destructive power. Then I lifted
tenderly the lifeless form, laid it on cushions arranged
therein, kissed the lips, and closed the coffer. Two of
Davilo's attendants had meantime adjusted the electric
machinery. We carried the coffer into the apartment
where this worked to heat the stove, to keep the lights
burning, to raise, warm, and diffuse the water through
the house, and perform many other important household
services. Two strong bars of conducting metal were
attached to the apparatus, and fitted into two hollows
of the coffer. A flash, a certain hissing sound, followed.
After a few moments the coffer was opened, and Davilo,
carefully gathering a few handfuls of solid white mate-
rial, something resembling pumice stone in appear-
ance, placed them in a golden chest about twelve inches
cube, which was then soldered down by the heat derived
from the electric power. Then all infected clothes and
the contents of the death chamber were carried out for
destruction ; while, with a tool adjusted to the machinery,
one of the attendants engraved a few characters upon
the chest. Whatever the risk, I could not part with
every relic of her we had lost ; and, after passing them
through such chemical purification as Martial science
suggested, I took the three long chestnut locks I had
preserved. Velna's quick fingers wove them into plaits,
one of which I left with her, one bound around my own
neck, and one reserved for Eveena. As soon as the sun
had risen, I had despatched a message to the Prince,
explaining the danger of infection to which I had been
subjected, and asking permission notwithstanding to
Darker Yet. 245
wait upon him. The emergency was so pressing that
neither sorrow nor peril would allow me to neglect an
embassy on which the lives of hundreds, and perhaps
the safety of his kingdom, might depend. Passing
Eive as I turned towards Eveena's room, and fevered
with intense thirst, I bade her bring me thither a cup
of the carcara. I need not dwell on the terribly pain-
ful moments in which I bound round Eveena's arm a
bracelet prized above all the choicest ornaments she
possessed. To calm her agitation and my own by
means of the charny, I sought the keys. They were
not at my belt, and I asked, " Have I returned them
to you ? "
" Certainly not," said Eveena, startled. " Can you
not find them ? "
At this moment Eive entered the room and presented
me with the cup for which I had asked. It struck me
with surprise, even at that moment, that Eveena took it
from my hand and carried it first to her own lips. Eivr
had turned to leave the room ; but before she had
reached the threshold Eveena had sprung up, placed her
foot upon the spring that closed the door, and snatching
the test- stone from my watch chain dipped it into the
cup. Her face turned white as death, while she held
up to my eyes the discoloured disc which proved the
presence of the deadliest Martial poison.
" Be calm," she said, as a cry of horror burst from my
lips. " The keys ! "
" You have them," Eive said with a gasp, her face
" I took them from Eveena myself," I answered
sternly. " Stand back into that corner, Eive," as I
246 Across the Zodiac.
opened the door and called sharply the other members
of the household. When they entered, unable to stand,
I had fallen back upon a chair, and called Eive" to my
side. As I laid my hand on her arm she threw herself
on the floor, screaming and writhing like a terrified
child rather than a woman detected in a crime, the con-
ception and execution of which must have required an
evil courage and determination happily seldom possessed
" Stand up ! " I said. " Lift her, then, Enva and
Eirale. Unfasten the shoulder-clasps and zone."
As her outer robe dropped, Eive snatched at an object
in its folds, but too late ; and the electric keys, which
gave access to all my cases, papers, and to the medicine-
chest above all, lay glittering on the ground.
" That cup Eive brought to me. Which of you saw
" I did," said Enva quietly, all feelings of malice and
curiosity alike awed into silence by the evidence of some
terrible, though as yet to them unknown, secret. " She
mixed it and brought it hither herself."
" And," I said, " it contains a poison against which,
had I drunk one-half the draught, no antidote could
have availed — a poison to which these keys only could
have given access."
Again the test-stone was applied, and again the dis-
coloration testified to the truth of the charge.
" You have seen ? " I said.
"We have seen," answered Enva, in the same tone of
horror, too deep to be other than quiet.
We all left the room, closing the door upon the pri-
soner. Dismissing the girls to their own chambers,
Darker Yet. 247
with strict injunctions not to quit them unpermitted, I
was left alone with Eveena. We were silent for some
minutes, my own heart oppressed with mingled emotions,
all intensely painful, but so confused that, while con-
scious of acute suffering, I scarcely realised anything
that had occurred. Eveena, who knelt beside me, though
deeply horror-struck, was less surprised and was far
less agitated than I. At last, leaning forward with her
arms on my knee and looking up in my face, she was
about to speak. But the touch and look seemed to break
a spell, and, shuddering from head to foot, I burst into
tears like those of an hysterical girl. When, with the
strongest effort that shame and necessity could prompt,
aided by her silent soothing, I had somewhat regained
my self-command, Eveena spoke, in the same attitude
and with the same look : —
" You said once that you could pardon such an attempt.
That you should ever forgive at heart cannot be. That
punishment should not follow so terrible a crime, even
I cannot desire. But for my sake, do not give her up
to the doom she has deserved. Do you know " (as I was
silent) " what that doom is ? "
" Death, I suppose."
" Yes ! " she said, shuddering, " but death with torture
— death on the vivisection-table. Will you, whatever
the danger — can you, give up to such a fate, to such
hands, one whom your hand has caressed, whose head
has rested on your heart ? "
" It needs not that, Eveena," I answered; " enough that
she is woman. I would face that death myself rather
than, for whatever crime, send a woman, above all a
young girl, to such an end. I would rather by far slay
248 Across the Zodiac.
my worst enemy with my own hand than consign him
to a death of torture. But, more than that, my con-
science would not permit me to call on the law to punish
a household treason, where household authority is so
strong and so arbitrary as here. Assassination is the
weapon of the oppressed and helpless ; and it is not for
me so to he judge in my own cause as to pronounce that
Eiye" has had no provocation."
" Shame upon her ! " said Eveena indignantly. " No
one under your roof ever had or could have reason to
raise a hand, I do not say against your life, but to give
you a moment's pain. I do not ask, I do not wish you
to spare her ; only I am glad to think you will deal with
her yourself — remember she has herself removed all
limit to your power — and not by the shameless and
merciless hands to which the law would give her."
We returned to Eveena's chamber. The scene that
followed I cannot bear to recall. Enough that Eive
knew as well as Eveena the law she had broken
and the penalty she had incurred ; and, petted darling
as she had been, she utterly lacked all' faith in the
tenderness she had known so well, or even in the mercy
to which Eveena had confidently appealed. Under-
standing at last that she was safe from the law, the
expression of her gratitude was as vehement as her
terror had been intense. But the new phase of passion
was not the less repugnant. Not that there was any-
thing strange in the violent revulsion of feeling. Born
and trained among a race who fear to forgive, Eive was
familiar by report at least with the merciless vengeance
of cowards. Whatever they might have done later, few
would have promised mercy in the very moment of escape
Darker Yet. 249
to an ordinary assassin ; and if ~Eiv6 understood any
aspect of my character, that she could best appreciate
was the outraged tenderness which forbade me to
look on hers as ordinary guilt. Acutely sensitive
to pain and fear, she had both known the better to
what terror might prompt the injured, and was the
more appalled by the prospect. Her eagerness to ac-
cept by anticipation whatever degradation and pain
domestic power could inflict, when released by the
terrible alternative of legal prosecution from its usual
limits, breathed more of doubt and terror than of shame
or penitence. But at first it keenly affected me. It
was with something akin to a bodily pang that I heard
this fragile girl, so easily subdued by such rebuke or
menace as her companions would scarcely have affected
to fear, now pleading for punishment such as would
have quelled the pride and courage of the most high-
spirited of her sex. I felt the deepest pity, not so
much for the fear with which she still trembled as for
the agony of terror she must have previously endured.
Eveena averted from her abject supplications a face in
which I read much pain, but more of what would have
been disgust in a less intensely sympathetic nature.
And ere long I saw or felt in Eive's manner that which
caused me suddenly to dismiss Eveena from the room,
as from a presence unfit for her spotless purity and
exquisite delicacy. Finding in me no sign of passion-
ate anger, no readiness, but reluctance to visit treason
with physical pain, Eive's own expression changed.
Unable to conceive the feeling that rendered the course
she had at first expected simply impossible to me, a
nature I had utterly misconceived caught at an idea few
VOL. II. R
250 Across the Zodiac.
women, not experienced in the worst of life's lessons,
would have entertained. The tiny fragile form, the
slight limbs whose delicate proportions seemed to me
almost those of infancy, their irrepressible quivering
plainly revealed by the absence of robe and veil, no
man worthy of the name could have beheld without
intense compassion. But such a feeling she could
not realise. As her features lost the sincerity of
overwhelming fear, as the drooping lids failed for one
moment to conceal a look of almost assured exultation
in the dark eyes, my soul was suddenly and thoroughly
revolted. I had forgiven the hand aimed at a heart
that never throbbed with a pulse unkind to her. I
might have forgotten the treason that requited tender-
ness and trust by seeking my life ; but I could never
forget, never recover, that moment's insight into
thoughts that so outraged an affection which, if my
conscience belied me not, was absolutely stainless and
It cost a strong persistent effort of self-control to
address her again. But a confession full and complete
my duty to others compelled me to enforce. The story
of the next hour I never told or can tell. To one only did
I give a confidence that would have rendered explana-
tion natural ; and that one was the last to whom I could
have spoken on this subject. Enough that the charm-
ing infantine simplicity had disguised an elaborate
treachery of which I reluctantly learned that human
nature is capable. The caressed and caressing child
had sold my life, if not her own soul, for the promise of
wealth that could purchase nothing I denied her, and
of the first place among the women of her world. That
Darker Yet. 251
promise I soon found had not been warranted, directly
or indirectly, by him who alone could at present fulfil
it. Needless to relate the details either of the con-
fession or its extortion. Enough that Eive learnt at
last perforce that though I had, as it seemed to her,
been fool enough to spare her the vengeance of the
law, and to spare her still as far as possible, her power
to fool me further was gone for ever. Needless to
speak of the lies repeated and sustained, till truth was
wrung from quivering lips and sobbing voice ; of the
looks that appealed long and incredulously to a love as
utterly forfeited as misunderstood. To the last Eive
could not comprehend the nature that, having spared
her so much, would not spare wholly ; the mercy felt
for the weakness, not for the charms of youth and sex.
Shamed, grieved, wounded to the quick, I quitted the
presence of one who, I fear, was as little worth the an-
guish I then endured for her, as the tenderness she had
so long betrayed ; and left the late darling of my house
a prisoner under strict guard, necessary for the safety
of others than ourselves.
Finding a message awaiting me, I sought at once the
interview which the Sovereign fearlessly granted.
" I see," said the Prince with much feeling, as he
received my salute, " that you have gone through deeper
pain than such domestic losses can well cause to us.
I am sorry that you are grieved. I can say no more,
and perhaps the less I say the less pain I shall give.
Only permit me this remark. Since I have known you,
it has seemed to me that the utter distinction between
our character and yours, showing as it does at so many
points, springs from some single root-difference. We,
252 Across the Zodiac.
so careful of our own life and comfort, care little for
those of others. We, so afraid of pain, are indifferent
to its infliction, unless we have to witness it, and only
some of us flinch from the sight. The softness of heart
you show in this trouble seems in some strange way
associated with the strength of heart which you have
proved in dangers, the least of which none of us would
have encountered willingly, and which, forced on us,
would have unnerved us all. I am glad to prove to
you that to some extent I depart from my national
character and approach, however, distantly, to yours.
I can feel for a friend's sorrow, and I can face what
you seem to consider a real danger. But you had a
purpose in asking this audience. My ears are open —
your lips are unsealed."
" Prince," I replied, " what you have said opens the
way to that I wished to ask. You say truly that
courage and tenderness have a common root, as have
the unmanly softness and equally unmanly hardness
common among your subjects. Those for whom death
ends all utterly and for ever will of necessity, at least
as soon as the training of years and of generations has
rendered their thought consistent, dread death with
intensest fear, and love to brighten and sweeten life
with every possible enjoyment. Animal enjoyment
becomes the most precious, since it is the keenest.
Higher pleasures lose half their value, when the distinc-
tion between the two is reduced to the distinction
between the sensations of higher and lower nerve
centres. Thus men care too much for themselves to
care for others ; and after all, strong deep affection,
entwined with the heartstrings, can only torture and
Darker Yet. 253
tear the hearts for which death is a final parting. Such
love as I have felt for woman — even such love as I felt
for her, your gift, whom I have lost — would be pain
intolerable if the thought were ever present that one
day we must, and any day we might, part for ever. I
put the knife against my breast, my life in your hand,
when I say this, and I ask of you no secrecy, no favour
for myself ; but that, as I trust you, you will guard the
life that is dearest to me if you take from me the power
to guard it. . . . There are those among your subjects
who are not the cowards you find around your throne,
who are not brutal in their households, not incapable of
tenderness and sacrifice for others."
As I spoke I carefully watched the Prince's face, on
which no shade of displeasure was visible ; rather the
sentiment of one who is somewhat gratified to hear a
perplexing problem solved in a manner agreeable to his
" And the reason is," I continued, " that these men
and women believe or know that they are answerable
to an eternal Sovereign mightier than yourself, and
that they will reap, not perhaps here, but after death
as they shall have sown; that if they do not forfeit
the promise by their own deed, they shall rejoin here-
after those dearest to them here."
" There are such ? " he said. " I would they were
known to me. I had not dreamed that there were in
my realm men who would screen the heart of another
with their own palm."
" Prince," I replied earnestly, " I as their ambassador
as one of their leaders, appeal to you to know and to
protect them. They can defend themselves at need,
254 Across the Zodiac.
and, it may be, might prevail though matched one
against a thousand. For their weapons are those
against which no distance, no defences, no numbers
afford protection. But in such a strife many of their
lives must be lost, and infinite suffering and havoc
wrought on foes they would willingly spare. They are
threatened with extermination by secret spite or open
force ; but open force will be the last resort of enemies
well aware that those who strike at the Star have ever
been smitten by the lightning."
A slight change in his countenance satisfied me that
the Emblem was not unknown to him.
" You say," he replied, " that there is an organised
scheme to destroy these people by force or fraud ? "
" The scheme, Prince, was confessed in my own hear-
ing by one of its instruments ; and in proof thereof, my
own life, as a Chief of the Order, was attempted this
The Prince sprang to his feet in all the passion of a
man who for the first time receives a personal insult ;
of an Autocrat stung to the quick by an unprecedented
outrage to his authority and dignity.
" Who has dared ? " he said. " Who has taken on
himself to make law, or form plans for carrying out old
law, without my leave ? Who has dared to strike at
the life over which I have cast the shadow of my throne ?
Give me their names, my guest, and, before the evening
mist closes in to-morrow, pronounce their doom."
"I cannot obey your royal command. I have no
proof against the only man who, to my knowledge, can
desire my death. Those who actually and immediately
aimed at my life are shielded by the inviolable weak-
Darker Yet. 255
ness of sex from the revenge and even the justice of
" Each man," returned the Prince, but partially con-
ceiving my meaning, "is master at home. I wish I
were satisfied that your heart will let you deal justly
and wisely with the most hateful offspring of the most
hateful of living races — a woman who betrays the life
of her lord. But those who planned a general scheme
of destruction — a purpose of public policy — without my
knowledge, must aim also at my life and throne ; for
even were their purpose such as I approved, attempted
without my permission, they know I would never par-
don the presumption. I do not sit in Council with dull
ears, or silent lips, or empty hands ; and it is not for the
highest more than for the lowest under me to snatch my
sceptre for a moment."
" Guard then your own," I said. " Without your
leave and in your lifetime, open force will scarcely be
used against us ; and if against secret murder or outrage
we appeal to the law, you will see that the law does
justice ? "
" I will," he replied ; " and I pardon your advice to
guard my own, because you judge me by my people.
But a Prince's life is the charge of his guards ; the lives
of his people are his care."
He was silent for a few minutes, evidently in deep
" I thank you," he said at last, " and I give you one
warning in partial return for yours. There is a law
which can be used against the members of a secret
society with terrible effect. Not only are they exposed
to death if detected, but those who strike them are
256 Across the Zodiac.
legally exempt from punishment. I will care that that
law shall not menace you long. Whilst it remains guard
yourselves ; I am powerless to break it."
As I quitted the Palace, Ergimo joined me and
mounted my carriage. Seizing a moment when none
were within sight or hearing, he said —
" Astona was found two hours ago dead, as an enemy
or a traitor dies. She was seen to fall from the roof of
her house, and none was near her when she fell. But
Davilo has already been arrested as her murderer, on the
ground that he was heard before sunrise this morning
to say that she must die."
" Who heard that must have heard more. Let this
news be quickly known to whom it concerns."
I checked the carriage instantly, and turned into a
road that conducted us in ten minutes to a public tele-
" Come with me," I said, " quickly. As an officer of the
Campta your presence may ensure the delivery of letters
which might otherwise be stopped."
He seized the hint at once, and as we approached a
vacant desk he said to the nearest officer, " In the
Campta' s name ; " a form which ensured that the most
audacious and curious spy, backed by the highest
authority save that invoked, dared neither stop nor
search into a message so warranted. Before I left the
desk every Chief of the Zinta at his several post had
received, through that strange symbolic language of
which I have already given samples, from me advice
of what had occurred and from Esmo warning to meet
at an appointed place and time.
The day at whose close we should meet was that of
Darker Yet. 257
Davilo's trial. I mingled with the crowd around the
Court doors, a crowd manifesting bitter hostility to the
prisoner and to the Order, of whose secrets a revelation
was eagerly expected. Easily forcing my way through
the mass, I felt on a sudden a touch, a sign ; and turn-
ing my eyes saw a face I had surely never looked on
before. Yet the sign could only have been given by a
colleague. That which followed implied the presence
of the Signet itself.
" I told you," whispered a voice I knew well, " how
completely we can change even countenance at will."
It was so ; but though acquainted with the process, I
had never believed that the change could be so absolute.
By help of my strength and height, still more perhaps
by the subtle influence of his own powerful will acting
none the less imperiously on minds unconscious of its
influence, Esmo made his way with me into the Court.
Around five sides of the hexagon were seats, tier above
tier, appropriated to the public who wish to see as well
as hear. The phonograph reported every word uttered
to hundreds of distant offices. Against the sixth side
were placed the seats of the seven judges ; in front, at
an equal elevation, the chair of the prisoner, the seats
of the advocates on right and left, and the place from
which each witness must deliver his testimony in full
view and within easy hearing both of the bench, the
bar, and the audience. Davilo sat in his chair un-
guarded, but in an attitude strangely constrained and
motionless. Only his bright eyes moved freely, and his
head turned a little from side to side. He recognised
us instantly, and his look expressed no trace of fear.
"The quarry" whispered Esmo, observing my per-
258 Across the Zodiac.
plexity. "It paralyses the nerves of motion, leaving
those of sensation active; and is administered to a
prisoner on the instant of his arrest, so as to keep him
absolutely helpless till his sentence is executed, or till
on his acquittal an antidote is administered."
The counsel for the prosecution stated in the briefest
possible words the story of Astona, from the moment
when she left my house to that at which she was found
dead, and the method of her death; related Davilo's
words, and then proceeded to call his witnesses. Of
course the one vital question was whether by possibility
Davilo, who had never left my premises since the words
were uttered, could have brought about a death, evi-
dently accidental in its immediate cause, at a distance
of many miles. His words were attested by one whom
I recognised as an officer of Endo Zampta, and I was
called to confirm or contradict them. The presiding
judge, as I took my place, read a brief telling terrible
menace, expounding the legal penalties of perjury.
" You will speak the truth," he said, " or you know
As he spoke, he encountered Esmo's eyes, and quailed
under the gaze, sinking back into his seat motionless as
the bird under the alleged fascination of the serpent. I
admitted that the words in question had been addressed
to me ; and I proved that Davilo had been busily en-
cased with me from that moment until an hour later
than that of the fatal accident. There being thus no
dispute as to the facts, a keen contest of argument pro-
ceeded between the advocates on either side. The de-
fenders of the prisoner ridiculed with an affectation of
scientific contempt — none the less effective because the
Darker Yet. 259
chief pleader was himself an experienced member of
our Order — the idea that the actions or fate of a person
at a distance could be affected by the mere will of
another; and related, as absurd and incredible tradi-
tions of old to this purport, some anecdotes which had
been communicated to me as among the best attested
and most striking examples of the historical exercise of
the mystic powers. The able and bigoted sceptics, who
prosecuted this day in the interests of science, insisted,
with equal inconsistency and equal skill, on the innu-
merable recorded and attested instances of some dia-
bolical power possessed by certain supposed members
of a detested and malignant sect. A year ago the
judges would probably have sided unanimously with
the former. But the feeling that animated the con-
spiracy, if it should be so called, against the Zinta, had
penetrated all Martial society ; and in order to destroy
the votaries of religion, Science, in the persons of her
most distinguished students, was this day ready to ab-
jure her character, and forswear her most cherished
tenets. As has often happened in Mars, and may one
day happen on Earth as the new ideas come into greater
force, proven fact was deliberately set against logical
impossibility ; and for once — what probably had not
happened in Mars for ten thousand years — proven fact
and common sense carried the day against science and
"universal experience;" but, unhappily, against the
prisoner. After retiring separately for about an hour,
the Judges returned. Their brief and very confused
decisions were read by the Secretary. The reasons
were seldom intelligible, each contradicting himself
and all his colleagues, and not one among the judg-
260 Across the Zodiac.
ments having even the appearance of cohesion and
consistency. But, by six to one, they doomed the
prisoner to the vivisection-table. As he was carried
forth his eyes met ours, and the perfect calm and
steadiness of their glance astounded me not a little.
My natural thought prompted, of course, an appeal
to the mercy of the Throne. In every State a power
of giving effect in the law's despite to public policy, or
of commanding that, in certain strange and unforeseen
circumstances, common sense and practical justice shall
override a sentence which no court bound by the letter
of the law can withhold, must rest with the Sovereign.
But in Mars the prerogative of mercy, in the proper
sense of the word — judicial rather than political mercy
— is exercised less by the Prince himself than by a
small council of judges advising him and pronouncing
their decision in his name. Even if we could have
relied on the Campta with absolute confidence, there
were many reasons against an appeal which would, in
fact, have asked him to declare himself on our side.
While such a declaration might, in the existing state
of public feeling, have caused revolt or riot, it would
have put on their guard, perhaps driven to a premature
attempt which he was not prepared to meet, the traitors
whose scheme against his life the Prince felt confident
that he should speedily detect and punish.
All these considerations were brought before our
Council, whose debate was brief but not hurried or ex-
cited. The supreme calm of Esmo's demeanour com-
municated itself to all the eleven, in not one of whom
could I recognise till they spoke my colleagues of our
last Council. The order went forth that a party should
Darker Yet. 261
attend Esmo's orders at a point about half a mile dis-
tant from the studio in which, for the benefit of a great
medical school, my unhappy friend was to be put to
" Happily," said Esmo, " the first portion of the
experiment will be made by the Vivisector-General
alone, and will commence at midnight. Half an hour
before that time our party will be assembled."
I had insisted on being one of the band, and Esmo
had very reluctantly yielded to the unanimous approval
of colleagues who thought that on this occasion physical
strength mio;ht render essential service at some un-
foreseen crisis. Moreover, the place lying within my
geographical province, several of those engaged looked
up to me as their immediate chief, and it was thought
well to place me on such an occasion at their head.
The night was, as had been predicted, absolutely dark,
but the roads were brilliantly lighted. Suddenly, how-
ever, as we drew towards the point of meeting, the lights
went out, an accident unprecedented in Martial admini-
" But they will be relighted ! " said one of my com-
" Can human skill relight the lamps that the power
of the Star has extinguished ? " was the reply of
We fell in in military order, with perfect discipline
and steadiness, under the influence of Esmo's silent will
and scarcely discernible gestures. The wing of the
college in which the dissection was to take place was
guarded by some forty sentinels, armed with the spear
and lightning gun. But as we came close to them, I
262 Across the Zodiac.
observed that each stood motionless as a statue, with
eyes open, but utterly devoid of sight.
"I have been here before you," murmured Esmo.
" To the left."
The door gave way at once before the touch of some,
electric instrument or immaterial power wielded by his
hand. We passed in, guided by him, through one or
two chambers, and along a passage, at the end of which
a light shone through a crystal door. Here proof of
Esmo's superior judgment was afforded. He would fain
have had the party much smaller than it was, and com-
posed exclusively of the very few old and experienced
members of the Zinta within reach at the moment. We
were nearly a score in number, some even more inex-
perienced than myself, half the party my own imme-
diate followers ; and I remembered far better the feel-
ings of a friend and a soldier than the lessons of the
college or the Shrine. As the door opened, and we
caught sight of our friend stretched on the vivisection
table, the younger of the company, hurried on by my
own example, lost their heads and got, so to speak, out
of hand. We rushed tumultuously forward and fell on
the Vivisector and two assistants, who stood motionless
and perhaps unconscious, but with glittering knives
just ready for their fiendish work. Before Esmo could
interpose, these executioners were cut down with the
" crimson blade " (cold steel) ; and we borooff our friend
with more of eagerness and triumph than at all befitted
our own consciousness of power, or suited the temper of
Never did Esmo speak so sharply or severely as in
the brief reprimand he gave us when we reassembled ;
Darker Yet. 263
the justice of which I instinctively acknowledged, as he
ceased, by the salute I had given so often at the close of
less impressive and less richly deserved reprimands on
the parade ground or the march. Uninjured, and
speedily relieved from the effects of the quarry, Davilo
was carried off to a place of temporary concealment,
and we dispersed.
Eveena heard my story with more annoyance than
interest, mortified not a little by the reproof I had
drawn upon myself and my followers ; and, despite her
reluctance to seem to acknowledge a fault in me, appa-
rently afraid that a similar ebullition of feeling might
on some future occasion lead to serious disaster.
( 264 )
To detain as a captive and a culprit, thus converting
my own house into a prison, my would-be murderess
and former plaything, was intolerably painful. To leave
her at large was to incur danger such as I had no right
to bring on others. To dismiss her was less perilous
than the one course, less painful than the other, but
combined peril and pain in a degree which rendered
both Eveena and myself most reluctant to adopt it.
Erom words of Esmo's, and from other sources, I
gathered that the usual course under such circum-
stances would have been to keep the culprit under no
other restraint than that confinement to the house
which is too common to be remarkable, trusting to the
terror which punishment inflicted and menaced by
domestic authority would inspire. But Eiv6 now
understood the limits which conscience or feeling im-
posed on the use of an otherwise unlimited power.
She knew very nearly how much she could have to
fear; and, timid as she was, would not be cowed or
controlled by apprehensions so defined and bounded.
Eveena herself naturally resented the peril, and was
revolted by the treason even more intensely than
myself ; and was for once hardly content that so heinous
a crime should be so lightly visited. In interposing
between the culprit and the horrors of the law, she had
taken for granted the strenuous exertion of a domestic
jurisdiction almost as absolute under the circumstances
as that of ancient Eome.
" What suggested to you," I asked one day of Eveena,
" the suspicion that so narrowly saved my life ? "
" The carefully steadied hand — you have teased her
so often for spilling everything it carried — and the
unsteady eyes. But," she added reluctantly, " I never
liked to watch her — no, not lest you should notice it —
but because she did not seem true in her ways with
you; and I should have missed those signs but for
a strange warning." . . . She paused.
" I would not be warned," I answered with a bitter
sigh. " Tell me, Madonna."
"It was when you left me in this room alone,"
she said, her exquisite delicacy rendering her averse
to recal, not the coercion she had suffered, but the
pain she knew I felt in so coercing her. " Dearest,"
she added with a sudden effort, " let me speak frankly,
and dispel the pain you feel while you think over it in
I kissed the hand that clasped my own, and she
went on, speaking with intentional levity.
" Had a Chief forgotten ? " tracing the outline of a
star upon her bosom. " Or did you think Clavelta's
daughter had no share in the hereditary gifts of her
family ? "
" But how did you unlock the springs ? "
VOL. II. S
266 Across the Zodiac.
" Ah ! those might have baffled me if you had trusted
to them. You made a double mistake when you left
Enva on guard. . . . You don't think I tempted her
to disobey ? Eager as I was for release, I could not
have been so doubly false. She did it unconsciously.
It is time to put her out of pain."
"Does she know me so little as to think I could
mean to torture her by suspense ? Besides, even she
must have seen that you had secured her pardon."
" Or my own punishment," Eveena answered.
" Spare me such words, Eveena, unless you mean to
make me yet more ashamed of the compulsion I did
employ. I never spoke, I never thought "
" Forgive me, dearest. Will it vex you to find how
clearly your flower-bird has learned to read your will
through your eyes ? When I refused to obey, and you
felt yourself obliged to compel, your first momentary
thought was to threaten, your next, that I should not
believe you. When you laid your hand upon my
shoulder, thus, it was no gesture of anger or menace.
You thought of the only promise I must believe, and
you dropped the thought as quickly as your hand.
You would not speak the word you might have to
keep. Nay, dearest, what pains you so ? You gave
me no pain, even when you called another to enforce
your command. Yet surely you know that that must
have tried my spirit far more than anything else you
could do. You did well. Do you think that I did not
appreciate your imperious anxiety for me; that I did
not respect your resolution to do what you thought
right, or feel how much it cost you ? If anything in
the ways of love like yours could pain me, it would
be the sort of reserved tenderness that never treats me
as frankly and simply as " ... There was no need to
name either of those so dearly loved, so lately — and, alas !
so differently — lost. " Trusting the loyalty of my love
so absolutely in all else, can you not trust it to accept
willingly the enforcement of your will ... as you have
enforced it on all others you have ruled, from the
soldiers of your own world to the rest of your house-
hold ? Ah ! the light breaks through the mist. Before
you gave Enva her charge you said to me in her pre-
sence, ' Forgive me what you force upon me ; ' as if I,
above all, were not your own to deal with as you will.
Dearest, do you so wrong her who loves you, and is
honoured by your love, as to fancy that any exertion
of your authority could make her feel humbled in your
eyes or her own ? "
It was impossible to answer. Nothing would have
more deeply wounded her simple humility, so free from
self-consciousness, as the plain truth ; that as her cha-
racter unfolded, the infinite superiority of her nature
almost awed me as something — save for the intense and
occasionally passionate tenderness of her love — less like
a woman than an angel.
" I was absorbed," she continued, " in the effort that
had thrown Enva into the slumber of obedience. I did
not know or feel where I was or what I had next to do.
My thought, still concentrated, had forgotten its accom-
plished purpose, and was bent on your danger. Some-
how on the cushioned pile I seemed to see a figure,
strange to me, but which I shall never forget. It was
a young girl, very slight, pale, sickly, with dark circles
round the closed eyes, slumbering like Enva, but in
268 Across the Zodiac.
everything else Enva's very opposite. I suppose I was
myself entranced or dreaming, conscious only of my
anxiety for you, so that it seemed natural that every-
thing should concern you. I remember nothing of my
dream but the words which, when I came to myself in
the peristyle, alone, were as clear in my memory as they
are now : —
' Watch the hand and read the eyes ;
On his breast the danger lies —
Strength is weak and childhood wise.
' Fail the bowl, and — 'ware the knife !
Rests on him the Sovereign's life,
Rests the husband's on the wife.
' They that would his power command
Know who holds his heart in hand :
Silken tress is surest band.
' Well they judge Kargynda's mood,
Steel to peril, pain, and blood,
Surely through his mate subdued.
' Love can make the strong a slave,
Fool the wise and quell the brave . . .
Love by sacrifice can save.' "
" She again ! " I exclaimed involuntarily.
" You hear," murmured Eveena. " In kindness to
me heed my warning, if you have neglected all others.
Do not break my heart in your mercy to another.
" Eivd ! — The prophetess knows me better than you
do ! The warning means that they now desire my
secret before my life, and scheme to make your safety
the price of my dishonour. It is the Devil's thought —
or the Eegent's ! "
As I could not decide to send Eive forth without
home, protection, or control, and Eveena could suggest
no other course, the days wore on under a domestic
thunder-cloud which rendered the least sensitive amono-
us uncomfortable and unhappy, and deprived three at
least of the party of appetite, of ease, and almost of
sleep, till two alarming incidents broke the painful
I had just left Eive's prison one morning wdien
Eveena, who was habitually entrusted with the charge
of these communications, put into my hands two slips
of taf roo. The one had been given her by an amba, and
came from Davilo's substitute on the estate. It said
simply : " You and you alone were recognised among
the rescuers of your friend. Before two days have
passed an attempt will be made to arrest you." The
other came from Esmo, and Eveena had brought it to
me unread, as was indeed her practice. I could not
bear to look at her, though I held her closely, as I read
aloud the brief message which announced the death, by
the sting of two dragons (evidently launched by some
assassin's hand, but under circumstances that rendered
detection by ordinary means hopeless for the moment),
of her brother and Esmo's son, Kevima ; and invited us
to a funeral ceremony peculiar to the Zinta. I need not
speak of the painful minutes that followed, during which
Eveena strove to suppress for my sake at once her tears
for her loss and her renewed and intensified terror on
my own account. It was suddenly announced by the
usual signs of the mute messenger that a visitor awaited
me in the hall. Ergimo brought a message from the
Campta, which ran as follows : —
270 Across the Zodiac.
" Aware that their treachery is suspected, the enemy
now seek your secret first, and then your life. Guard
both for a very short time. Your fate, your friends',
and my own are staked on the issue. The same Council
that sends the traitors to the rack will see the law
I questioned Ergimo as to his knowledge of the
"The enemy," he said, "must have changed their
plan. One among them, at least, is probably aware
that his treason is suspected both by his Sovereign and
by the Order. This will drive him desperate ; and if
he can capture you and extort your secret, he will
think he can use it to effect his purpose, or at least
to ensure his escape. He may think open rebellion,
desperate as it is, safer than waiting for the first blow
to come from the Zinta or from the Palace."
My resolve was speedily taken. At the same
moment came the necessity for escape, and the oppor-
tunity and excuse. I sought out the writer of the first
message, who entirely concurred with me in the pro-
priety of the step I was about to take; only recom-
mending me to apply personally for a passport from
the Campta, such as would override any attempt to
detain me even by legal warrant. He undertook to
care for those I left behind ; to release and provide for
Eive, and to see, in case I should not return, that full
justice was done to the interests of the others, as well
as to their claim to release from contracts which my
departure from their world ought, like death itself, to
cancel. The royal passport came ere I was ready to
depart, expressed in the fullest, clearest language, and
Azrael. 2 7 1
such as none, but an officer prepared instantly to rebel
against the authority which gave it, dared defy. During
the last preparations, Velna and Eveena were closeted
together in the chamber of the former ; nor did I care
to interrupt a parting the most painful, save one, of
those that had this day to be undergone. I went
myself to Eiv6.
" I leave you," I said, " a prisoner, not, I hope, for
long. If I return in safety, I will then consider in
what manner the termination of your confinement can
be reconciled with what is due to myself and others.
If not, you will be yet more certainly and more
speedily released. And now, child whom I once loved,
to whom I thought I had been especially gentle and
indulgent, was the miserable reward offered you the
sole motive that raised your hand against my life ?
Poison, I have always said, is the protection ,of the
household slave against the domestic tyrant. If I had
ever been harsh or unjust to you, if I had made your
life unhappy by caprice or by severity, I could under-
stand. But you of all have had least reason to com-
plain. Not Enva's jealous temper, not Leenoo's spite,
ever suggested to them the idea which came so easily
and was so long and deliberately cherished in your
She rose and faced me, and there was something of
contempt in the eyes that answered mine for this once
with the old fearless frankness.
" I had no reason to hate you ? Not certainly for
the kind of injury which commonly provokes women
to risk the lives their masters have made intolerable.
That your discipline was the lightest ever known in a
272 Across the Zodiac.
household, I need not tell you. That it fell more
lightly, if somewhat oftener, on me than on others,
you know as well as I. Put all the correction or
reproof I ever received from you into one, and repeat
it daily, and never should I have complained, much
less dreamed of revenge. You think Enva or Leenoo
might less unnaturally, less unreasonably, have turned
upon you, because your measure to their faults was
somewhat harder and your heart colder to them ! You
did not scruple to make a favourite of me after a
fashion, as you would never have done even of Eunane.
You could pet and play with me, check and punish me,
as a child who would not ' sicken at the sweets, or be
humbled by the sandal.' You forbore longer, you dealt
more sternly with them, because, forsooth, they were
women and I a baby. I, who was not less clever than
Eunane, not less capable of love, perhaps of devotion
to you, than Eveena, / might rest my head on your
knee when she was by, I might listen to your talk
when others were sent away; I was too much the
child, too little the woman, to excite your distrust or
her jealousy. Do you suppose I think better of you,
or feel the more kindly towards you, that you have not
taken vengeance? No! still you have dealt with me
as a child ; so untaught yet by that last lesson, that
even a woman's revenge cannot make you treat me as
a woman ! Clasfempta ! you bear, I believe, outside,
the fame of a wise and a firm man ; but in these little
hands you have been as weak a fool as the veriest
dotard might have been ; — and may be yet."
" As you will," I answered, stung into an anger which
at any rate quelled the worst pain I had felt when I
entered the room. " Pool or sage,Eive,I was your fellow-
creature, your protector, and your friend. When bitter
trouble befals you in life, or when, alone, you find your-
self face to face with death, you may think of what has
passed to-day. Then remember, for your comfort, my
last words — I forgive you, and I wish you happy."
To Velna I could not speak. Sure that Eveena had
told her all she could wish to know or all it was safe to
tell, a long embrace spoke my farewell to her who had
shared with me the first part of the long watch of the
death-chamber. Enva and her companions had gathered,
not from words, that this journey was more than an
ordinary absence. Some instinct or presentiment sug-
gested to them that it might, possibly at least, be a final
parting ; and I was touched as much as surprised by
the tears and broken words with which they assured
me that, greatly as they had vexed my home life,
conscious as they were that they had contributed to it
no element but bitterness and trouble, they felt that
they had been treated with unfailing justice and almost
unfailing kindness. Then, turning to Eveena, Enva
spoke for the rest —
" We should have treated you less ill if we could at
all have understood you. We understand you just as
little now. Clasfempta is man after all, bridling his
own temper as a strong man rules a large household of
women or a herd of amhau. But you are not woman
like other women ; and yet, in so far as women are or
think they are softer or gentler than men, so far, twelve-
fold twelve times told, are you softer, tenderer, gentler
Eveena struggled hard so far to suppress her sobs as
2 74 Across the Zodiac.
to give an answer. But, abandoning the effort, she only
kissed warmly the lips, and clasped long and tenderly
the hands, that had never spoken a kind word or done
a kind act for her. At the very last moment she faltered
out a few words which were not for them.
" Tell Eive," she said, " I wish her well ; and wishing
her well, I cannot wish her happy — yet"
We embarked in the balloon, attended as on' our
last journey by two of the brethren in my employment,
both, I noticed, armed with the lightning gun. I myself
trusted as usual to the sword, strong, straight, heavy,
with two edges sharp as razors, that had enabled my
hand so often to guard my head ; and the air-gun that
reminded me of so many days of sport, the more enjoyed
for the peril that attended it. Screened from observa-
tion, both reclining in our own compartment of the car,
Eveena and I spent the long undisturbed hours of the
first three days and nights of our journey in silent inter-
change of thought and feeling that seldom needed or was
interrupted by words. Her family affections were very
strong. Her brother had deserved and won her love ;
but conscious so long of a peril surrounding myself,
fearfully impressed by the incident which showed how
close that peril had come, her thought and feeling were
absorbed in me. So, could they have known the present
and foreseen the future, even those who loved her best
and most prized her love for them would have wished
it to be. As we crossed, at the height of a thousand feet,
the river dividing that continent between east and west
which marks the frontier of Elcavoo, a slight marked
movement of agitation, a few eager whispers of consul-
tation, in the other compartment called my attention.
As I parted the screen, the elder of the attendant
brethren addressed me —
" There is danger," he said in a low tone, not low-
enough to escape Eveena's quick ear when my safety
was in question. "Another balloon is steering right
across our path, and one in it bears, as we see through
the pavlo (the spectacle-like double field-glass of Mars),
the sash of a Regent, while his attendants wear the
uniform of scarlet and grey " (that of Endo Zampta) .
" Take, I beg you, this lightning-piece. Will you take
command, or shall we act for you ? "
Parting slightly the fold of the mantle I wore, for at
tihat height, save immediately under the rays of the
sun, the atmosphere is cold, I answered by showing the
golden sash of my rank. We went on steadily, taking
no note whatever of the hostile vessel till it came within
" Keep your guns steadily pointed," I said, " happen
what may. If you have to fire, fire one at any who is
ready to fire at us, the other at the balloon itself."
A little below but beside us Endo Zampta hailed. " I
arrest you," he said, addressing me by name, " on behalf
of the Arch-Court and by their warrant. Drop your
weapons or we fire."
" And I," I said, " by virtue of the Campta s sign and
signet attached to this," and Eveena held forth the
paper, while my weapon covered the Regent, " forbid
you to interrupt or delay my voyage for a moment."
I allowed the hostile vessel to close so nearly that
Endo could read through his glass the characters — pur-
posely, I thought, made unusually large — of his Sove-
reign's peremptory passport. To do so he had dropped
276 Across the Zodiac.
his weapon, and his men, naturally expecting a peace-
able termination to the interview, had laid down theirs.
Mine had obeyed my order, and we were masters of the
situation, when, with a sudden turn of the screw, throw-
ing his vessel into an almost horizontal position, Endo
brought his car into collision with ours and endeavoured
to seize Eveena's person, as she leaned over with the
paper in her hand. She was too quick for him, and I
called out at once, " Down, or we fire." His men, about
to grasp their pieces, saw that one of ours was levelled at
the balloon, and that before they could fire, a single shot
from us must send them earthwards, to be crushed into
one shapeless mass by the fall. Endo saw that he had
no choice but to obey or affect obedience, and, turning
the tap that let out the gas by a pipe passing through
the car, sent his vessel rapidly downward, as with a
formal salute he affected to accept the command of his
Prince. Instantly grasping, not the lightning gun,
which, if it struck their balloon, must destroy their
whole party in an instant, but my air-gun, which, by
making a small hole in the vast surface, would allow
them to descend alive though with unpleasant and
perilous rapidity, I fired, and by so doing prevented the
use of an asphyxiator concealed in the car, which the
treacherous Regent was rapidly arranging for use.
The success of these manoeuvres delighted my at-
tendants, and gave them a confidence they had not yet
felt in my appreciation of Martial perils and resources.
We reached Ecasfe and Esmo's house without further
molestation, and a party of the Zinta watched the
balloon while Eveena and I passed into the dwelling.
Preserved from corruption by the cold which Martial
chemistry applies at pleasure, the corpse of Kevima
looked as the living man looked in sleep, but calmer
and with features more perfectly composed. Quietly,
gravely, with streaming tears, but with self-command
which dispelled my fear of evil consequences to her,
Eveena kissed the lips that were so soon to exist no
longer. From the actual process by which the body
is destroyed, the taste and feeling of the Zinta exclude
the immediate relatives of the dead; and not till the
golden chest with its inscription was placed in Esmo's
hands did we take further part in the proceeding. Then
the symbolic confession of faith, by which the brethren
attest and proclaim their confidence in the universal
all-pervading rule of the Giver of life and in the per-
manence of His gift, was chanted. A Chief of the
Order pronounced a brief but touching eulogy on the
deceased. Another expressed on behalf of all their
sympathy with the bereaved father and family. Con-
signed to their care, the case that contained all that
now remained to us of the last male heir of the Founder's
house was removed for conveyance to the mortuary
chamber of the subterrene Temple. But ere those so
charged had turned to leave the chamber in which the
ceremony had passed, a flash so bright as at noonday
to light up the entire peristyle and the chambers open-
ing on it, startled us all; and a sentinel, entering in
haste and consternation, announced the destruction of
our balloon by a lightning flash from the weapon of
some concealed enemy. Esmo, at this alarming inci-
dent, displayed his usual calm resolve. He ordered
that carriages sufficient to convey some twenty-four of
the brethren should be instantly collected, and announced
278 Across the Zodiac.
his resolve to escort us at once to the Astronaut. Before
five minutes had elapsed from the destruction of the
balloon, Zulve and the rest of the family had taken
leave of Eveena and myself. Attended by the party
mustered, occupying a carriage in the centre of the
procession, we left the gate of the enclosure. I observed,
what seemed to escape even Esmo's attention, that
angry looks were bent upon us from many a roof, and
that here and there groups were gathered in the en-
closures and on the road, among whom I saw not a few
weapons. I was glad to remember that a party of the
Zveltau still awaited Esmo's return at his own residence.
We drove as fast as the electric speed would carry us
along the road I had traversed once before in the com-
pany of her who was now my wife — to be, I hoped, for
the future my sole wife — and of him who had been ever
since our mortal enemy. Where the carriages could
proceed no further we dismounted, and Esmo mustered
the party in order. All were armed with the spear
and lightning gun. Placing Eveena in the centre of a
solid square, Esmo directed me to take my place beside
her. I expostulated —
" Clavelta, it is impossible for me to take the place
of safety, when others who owe me nothing may be
about to risk life on my behalf. Eveena, as woman and
as descendant of the Founder, may well claim their
protection. It is for me to share in her defence, not in
He raised the arm that bore the Signet, and looked
at me with the calm commanding glance that never
failed to enforce his will.
" Take your place," he said ; and recalled to the
instincts of the camp, I raised my hand in the military-
salute so long disused, and obeyed in silence.
" Strike promptly, strike hard, and strike home,"
said Esmo to his little party. " The danger that may
threaten us is not from the law or from the State, but
from an attempt at murder through a perversion of the
law and in the name of the Sovereign. Those who
threaten us aim also at the Camptas life, and those we
may meet are his foes as well as ours. Conquered here,
they can hardly assail us again. Victorious, they will
destroy us, not leave us an appeal to the law or to the
Placing himself a little in front of the troop, our
Chief gave the signal to advance, and we moved for-
ward. It seemed to me a fatal error that no scout
preceded us, no flanking party was thrown out. This
neglect reminded me that my comrades and com-
mander were devoid of military experience, and I was
about to remonstrate when, suddenly wheeling on the
rocky platform on which I had first paused in my
descent from the summit, and facing towards the latter,
we encountered a force outnumbering our own as two
to one and wearing the colours of the Begent. The
front ranks quailed, as men always quailed under Esmo's
steady gaze, and lost nerve and order as they fell back
to right and left ; a movement intended to give play to
the asphyxiator they had brought with them. Their
strategy was no less ridiculous than our own. Devoid
for ages of all experience in conflict, both leaders might
have learned better from the conduct of the theme at
bay. The enemy were drawn up so near the turn that
there was no room for the use of their most destructive
280 Across the Zodiac.
engine ; and, had we been better prepared, neither this
nor their lightning guns would have been quick enough
to anticipate a charge that would have brought us
hand to hand. Even had they been steady and prompt,
the suffocating shell would probably have annihilated
both parties, and the discharge would certainly have
been as dangerous to them as to us. In another instant
a flash from several of our weapons, simultaneously
levelled, shattered the instrument to fragments. We
advanced at a run, and the enemy would have given
way at once but that their retreat lay up so steep an
incline, and neither to right nor left could they well
disperse, being hemmed in by a rocky wall on one side
and a precipitous descent on the other. From our
right rear, however, where the ground would have con-
cealed a numerous ambush, I apprehended an attack
which must have been fatal ; but even so simple and
decisive a measure had never occurred to the Eegent's
At this critical moment a flash from a thicket revealed
the weapon of some hidden enemy, who thus escaped
facing the gaze that none could encounter ; and Esmo
fell, struck dead at once by the lightning- shot. The
assassin sprang up, and I recognised the features of
Endo Zampta. Confounded and amazed, the Zveltau
broke and fell backward, hurrying Eveena away with
them. Enabled by size and strength to extricate my-
self at once, I stood at bay with my back against the
rocks on our left, a projection rising as high as my
knee assisting to hinder the enemy from entirely and
closely surrounding me. I had thrown aside at the
moment of the attack the mantle that concealed mv
sash and star ; and I observed that another Chief had
done the same. It was he who, occupying at the trial
the seat on Esmo's left, had shown the strongest dispo-
sition to mercy, and now displayed the coolest courage
amid confusion and danger.
" Rally them," I cried to him, " and trust the crimson
blade [cold steel]. These hounds will never face that."
The enemy had rushed forward as our men fell back,
and I was almost in their midst, thus protected to a con-
siderable extent from the lightning projectile, against
which alone I had no defence. Hand to hand I was a
match for more than one or two of my assailants, though
on this occasion I wore no defensive armour, and they
were clad in shirts of woven wire almost absolutely proof
against the spear in hands like theirs.
To die thus, to die for her under her eyes, leaving
to her widowed life a living token of our love — what
more could Allah grant, what better could a lover
and a soldier desire ? There was no honour, and little
to satisfy even the passion of vengeance, in the sword-
strokes that clove one enemy from the shoulder to the
waist, smote half through the neck of a second, and
laid two or three more dead or dying at my feet. If
the weight of the sword were lighter here than on
Earth, the arm that wielded it had been trained in very
different warfare, and possessed a strength which made
the combat so unequal that, had no other life hung
on my blows, I should have been ashamed to strike.
As I paused for a moment under this feeling, I noted
that, outside the space half cleared by slaughter and
by terror, the bearers of the lightning gun were form-
ing a sort of semicircle, embarrassed by the comrades
VOL. II. T
282 Across the Zodiac.
driven back upon them, but drawing momentarily
nearer, and seeking to enclose before firing the object of
their aim. They would have shattered my heart and
head in another instant but that — springing on the pro-
jecting stone of which I have spoken, which raised her to
my level — Eveena had flung her arms around me, and
sheltered my person with her own. This, and the con-
fusion, disconcerted the aim of most of the assailants.
The roar and flash half stunned me for a moment ; —
then, as I caught her in my left arm, I became aware
that it was but her lifeless form that I clasped to my
breast. Giving her life for mine, she had made mine
worse than worthless. My sword fell for a moment
from my hand, retained only by the wrist-knot, as I
placed her gently and tenderly on the ground, resting
against the stone which had enabled her to effect the
sacrifice I as little desired as deserved. Then, grasping
my weapon again, and shouting instinctively the war-
cry of another world, I sprang into the midst of the
enemy. At the same moment, "JSnt an Clazinta " (To
me the Zinta), cried the Chief behind; and having
rallied the broken ranks, even before the sight of
Eveena's fall had inspired reckless fury in the place
of panic confusion, he led on the Zveltau, the spear in
hand elevated over their heads, and pointed at the
unprotected faces of the enemy. Exposed to the cold
steel or its Martial equivalent, the latter, as I had pre-
dicted, broke at once. My sword did its part in the
fray. They scarcely fought, neither did they fling down
their weapons. But in that moment neither force nor
surrender would have availed them. We gave no
quarter to wounded or unwounded foe. When, for
lack of objects, I dropped the point of my streaming
sword, I saw Endo Zampta alive and unwounded in
the hands of the victors.
" Coward, scoundrel, murderer ! " I cried. " You shall
die a more terrible death than that which your own
savage law prescribes for crimes like yours. Bind him ;
he shall hang from my vessel in the air till I see fit to
let him fall ! For the rest, see that none are left alive
to boast what they have done this day."
Struggling and screaming, the Eegent was dragged to
the summit, and hung by the waist, as I had threatened,
from the entrance window of the Astronaut. Esmo's
body and those of the other slain among the Zveltau
had been raised, and our comrades were about to carry
them to the carriages and remove them homeward.
From the wardrobe of the Astronaut, furnished anew
for our voyage, I brought a long soft therne-cloak, in-
tended for Eveena's comfort ; and wrapped in it all that
was left to us of the loveliest form and the noblest heart
that in two worlds ever belonged to woman. I shred
one long soft tress of mingled gold and brown from those
with which my hand had played ; I kissed for the last
time the lips that had so often counselled, pleaded,
soothed, and never spoken a word that had better been
left unsaid. Then, veiling face and form in the soft
down, I called around me again the brethren who had
fallen back out of sight of my last farewell, and gave
the corpse into their charge. Turning with restless
eagerness from the agony, which even the sudden shock
that rendered me half insensible could not deaden into
endurable pain, to the passion of revenge, I led two or
three of our party to the foot of the ladder beneath the
284 Across the Zodiac.
entrance window of my vessel, and was about in their
presence to explain his fate more fully to the struggling,
howling victim, half mad with protracted terror. But
at that moment my purpose was arrested. I had often
repeated to Eveena passages from those Terrestrial
works whose purport most resembled that of the mystic
lessons she so deeply prized ; and words, on which in
life she had especially dwelt, seemed now to be whispered
in my ear or my heart by the voice which with bodily
sense I could never hear again : — " Vengeance is Mine ;
I will repay." The absolute control of my will and
conscience, won by her perfect purity and unfailing
rectitude, outlasted Eveena's life. Turning to her
" You shall die," I said, " but you shall die not by
revenge but by the law ; and not by your own law, but
by that which, forbidding that torture shall add to
the sting of death, commands that 'Whoso sheddeth
man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.' Yet I
cannot give you a soldier's death," as my men levelled
their weapons. Cutting the cord that bound him, and
grasping him from behind, I flung the wretch forth from
the summit far into the air ; well assured that he would
never feel the blow that would dismiss his soul to its
last account, before that Tribunal to whose judgment
his victim had appealed. Then I entered the vessel,
waved my hand in farewell to my comrades, and, put-
ting the machinery in action, rose from the surface and
prepared to quit a world which now held nothing that
could detain or recal me.
( 285 )
My task was not quite done. It was well for me in
the first moments of this new solitude, of this madden-
ing agony, that there was instant work imperatively
demanding the attention of the mind as well as the
exercise of the body. I had first, by means of the air
pump, to fill the vessel with an atmosphere as dense as
that in which I had been born and lived so long ; then
to close the entrance window and seal it hermetically,
and then to arrange the steering gear. To complete the
first task more easily, I arrested the motion of the
vessel till she rose only a few feet per minute. Whilst
employed on the air pump, I became suddenly aware,
by that instinct by which most men have been at one
time or another warned of the unexpected proximity of
friend or foe, that I was not alone. Turning and look-
ing in the direction of the entrance, I saw, or thought I
saw, once more the Presence beheld in the Hall of the
Zinta. But commanding, enthralling as were those
eyes, they could not now retain my attention ; for beside
that figure appeared one whose presence in life or death
left me no thought for aught beside. I sprang forward,
seemed to touch her hand, to clasp her form, to reach the
lips I bent my head to meet : — and then, in the midst
of the bright sunlight, a momentary darkness veiled all
286 Across the Zodiac.
from my eyes. Lifting my bead, however, my glance
fell, through the window to which the Vision had drawn
me, directly upon Ecasfe and upon the home from which
I had taken her whose remains were now being carried
back thither. Snatching up my field-glass, I scanned
the scene of which I had thus caught a momentary and
confused glimpse. The roof was occupied by a score of
men armed with the lightning weapon, and among them
glanced the familiar badge — the band and silver star.
Clambering over the walls of the wide enclosure, and
threatening to storm the house, were a mob perhaps a
thousand in number, many of them similarly armed,
the rest with staves, spears, or such rude weapons as
chance might afford. Two minutes brought me imme-
diately over them. In another, I was descending more
rapidly than prudence would have suggested. The
strife seemed for a moment to cease, as one of the crowd
pointed, not to the impending destruction overhead,
but to some object apparently at an equal elevation to
westward. A shout of welcome from the remaining
defenders of the house called right upward the eyes of
their assailants. For an instant they felt the bitterness
of death ; a cry of agony and terror that pierced even
the thick walls and windows of the Astronaut reached
my ears. Then a violent shock threw me from my feet.
Springing up, I knew what wholesale slaughter had
avenged Eveena and her father, preserved her family,
and given a last victory to the Symbol she so revered.
In another instant I was on the roof, and my hands
clasped in Zulve's.
" We know," she said. " Our darling's esve brought
us a line that told all ; and what is left of those who
were all to me, of her who was so much to you, will
now be returned to us almost at once."
We were interrupted. A cry drew my eyes to the
right, where, springing from a balloon to the car of which
was attached a huge flag emblazoned with the crimson
and silver colours of the Suzerain, Ergimo stood before us.
" I am too late," he said, " to save life ; in time only
to put an end to rebellion and avert murder. The
Prince has fulfilled his promise to you ; has repealed
the law that was to be a weapon in the hands that
aimed at his life and throne, as at the Star and its
children. The traitors, save one, the worst, have met by
this time their just doom. That one I am here to arrest.
But where is our Chief? And," noticing for the first
time the group of women, who in the violence of alarm
and agony of sorrow had burst for once unconsciously the
restraints of a lifetime — " where . . . Are you alone ? "
"Alone for ever," I said; and as I spoke the procession
that with bare and bent heads carried two veiled forms
into the peristyle below told all he sought to know.
I need not dwell on the scene that followed. I
scarcely remember anything, till a chest of gold, bear-
ing the cipher which though seldom seen I knew so
well, was placed in my hands. I turned to Zulve, and
to Ergimo, who stood beside her.
" Have you need of me?" I said. " If I can serve
her house I will remain willingly, and as long as I can
help or comfort."
" No," replied Ergimo ; for Zulve could not speak.
" The household of Clavelta are safe and honoured
henceforth as no other in the land. Something we
must ask of him who is, at any rate for the present,
the head of this household, and the representative of
288 Across the Zodiac.
the Founder's lineage. It may be," he whispered,
" that another" (and his eyes fell on the veiled forms
whose pink robes covered with dark crimson gauze
indicated the younger matrons of the family) " may yet
give to the Children of the Star that natural heir to the
Signet we had hoped from your own household. Rut
the Order cannot remain headless."
Here Zulve, approaching, gave into my hand the
Signet unclasped from her husband's arm ere the coffer
was closed upon his form. I understood her meaning ;
and, as for the time the sole male representative of the
house, I clasped it on the arm of the Chief who suc-
ceeded to Esmo's rank, and to whom I felt the care of
Esmo's house might be safely left. The due honour
paid to his new office, I turned to depart. Then for
the first time my eyes fell on the unveiled countenance
and drooping form of one unlike, yet so like Eveena —
her favourite and nearest sister, Zevle. I held out my
hand ; but, emotion overcoming the habits of reserve,
she threw herself into my arms, and her tears fell on
my bosom, hardly faster than my own as I stooped and
kissed her brow. I had no voice to speak my farewell.
But as the Astronaut rose for the last time from the
ground, the voices of my brethren chanted in adieu the
last few lines of the familiar formula —
" Peace be yours no force can break,
Peace not Death bath power to shake ;
Peace from peril, fear, and pain ;
Peace — until we meet again !
Not before the sculptured stone,
But the All-Commander's Throne."
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