"'O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?' In my dying moments I had forgotten what I had so often preached—'Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die.' In a moment my life lay before me like a valley or an open page. All along its paths and waysides I saw the little seeds of word and deed that I had sown extending and bearing fruit forever for good or evil. I then saw things as they were, and realized the faultiness of my former conclusions, based as they had been on the incomplete knowledge obtained through embryonic senses. I also saw the Divine purpose in life as the design in a piece of tapestry, whereas before I had seen but the wrong side. It is not till we have lost the life in the flesh that we realize its dignity and value, for every hour gives us opportunities of helping or elevating some human being—it may be ourselves—of doing something in His service.
"Now that time is past, the books are closed, and we can do nothing further ourselves to alter our status for eternity, however much we may wish to. It is on this account, and not merely to save you from death, which in itself is nothing, that I now tell you to run to the Callisto, seal the doors hermetically, and come not forth till a sudden rush of air that you will see on the trees has passed. A gust in which even birds drop dead, if they are unable to escape, will be here when you reach safety. Do not delay to take this food, and eat none of it when you return, for it will be filled with poisonous germs."
"How can we find you?" asked Ayrault, grasping his hand. "You must not leave us till we know how we can see you again."
"Think hard and steadfastly of me, you three," replied the spirit, "if you want me, and I shall feel your thought"; saying which, he vanished before their eyes, and the three friends ran to the Callisto.
DOUBTS AND PHILOSOPHY.
On reaching it, they climbed the ladder leading to the second-story opening, and entering through this, they closed the door, screwing it tightly in place.
"Now," said Cortlandt, "we can see what changes, if any, this wonderful gust will effect."
"He made no strictures on our senses, such as they are," said Bearwarden, "but implied that evolution would be carried much further in us, from which I suppose we may infer that it has not yet gone far. I wish we had recorked those brandy peaches, for now they will be filled with poisonous germs. I wonder if our shady friend could not tell us of an antiseptic with which they might be treated?"
"Those fellows," thought Ayrault, who had climbed to the dome, from which he had an extended view, "would jeer at an angel, while the deference they showed the spirit seems, as usual, to have been merely superficial."
"Let us note," said Cortlandt, "that the spirit thermometer outside has fallen several degrees since we entered, though, from the time taken, I should not say that the sudden change would be one of temperature."
Just then they saw a number of birds, which had been resting in a clump of trees, take flight suddenly; but they fell to the ground before they had risen far, and were dashed to pieces. In another moment the trees began to bend and sway before the storm; and as they gazed, the colour of the leaves turned from green and purple to orange and red. The wind blew off many of these, and they were carried along by the gusts, or fluttered to the ground, which was soon strewed with them. It was a typical autumnal scene. Presently the wind shifted, and this was followed by a cold shower of rain.
"I think the worst is over," said Bearwarden. "The Sailor's Guide says:
'When the rain's before the wind, Halliards, sheets, and braces mind; When the wind's before the rain, Soon you can make sail again.'
Doubtless that will hold good here."
This proved to be correct; and, after a repetition of the precautions they had taken on their arrival on the planet in regard to the inhalability of the air, they again sallied forth. They left their magazine shot-guns, taking instead the double-barrelled kind, on account of the rapidity with which this enabled them to fire the second barrel after the first, and threw away the water that had collected in the bucket, out of respect to the spirit's warning. They noticed a pungent odour, and decided to remain on high ground, since they had observed that the birds, in their effort to escape, had flown almost vertically into the air. On reaching the grove in which they had seen the storm, they found their table and everything on it exactly as they had left it. Bearwarden threw out the brandy peaches on the ground, exclaiming that it was a shame to lose such good preserves, and they proceeded on their walk. They passed hundreds of dead birds, and on reaching the edge of the toadstool valley were not a little surprised to find that every toadstool had disappeared.
"I wonder," said the doctor, "if there can be any connection between the phenomenon of the disappearance of those toadstools and the death of the birds? We could easily discover it if they had eaten them, or if in any other way the plants could have entered their bodies; but I see no way in which that can have happened."
Resolving to investigate carefully any other fungi they might see, they resumed their march. The cold, distant-looking sun, apparently about the size of an orange, was near the horizon. Saturn's rotation on its axis occupying only ten hours and fourteen minutes, being but a few minutes longer than Jupiter's, they knew it would soon be night. Finding a place on a range of hills sheltered by rocks and a clump of trees of the evergreen species, they arranged themselves as comfortably as possible, ate some of the sandwiches they had brought, lighted their pipes, and watched the dying day. Here were no fire-flies to light the darkening minutes, nor singing flowers to lull them to sleep with their song but six of the eight moons, each at a different phase, and with varied brightness, bathed the landscape in their pale, cold rays; while far above them, like a huge rainbow, stretched the great rings in effulgent sheets, reaching thousands of miles into space, and flooded everything with their silvery light.
"How poor a place compared with this," they thought to themselves, "is our world!" and Ayrault wished that his soul was already free; while the dead leaves rustling in the gentle breeze, and the nightwinds, sighing among the trees, seemed to echo his thought. Far above their heads, and in the vastness of space, the well-known stars and constellations, notwithstanding the enormous distance they had now come, looked absolutely unchanged, and seemed to them emblematic of tranquillity and eternal repose. The days were changed by their shortness, and by the apparent loss of power in the sun; and the nights, as if in compensation, were magnificently illuminated by the numerous moons and splendid rings, though neither rings nor satellites shone with as strong a light as the terrestrial moon. But in nothing outside of the solar system was there any change; and could AEneas's Palinurus, or one of Philip of Macedon's shepherds, be brought to life here, he would see exactly the same stars in the same positions; and, did he not know of his own death or of the lapse of time, he might suppose, so far as the heavens were affected, that he had but fallen asleep, or had just closed his eyes.
"I have always regretted," said Cortlandt, "that I was not born a thousand years later."
"Were it not," added Ayrault, "that our earth is the vestibule to space, and for the opportunities it opens, I should rather never have lived, for life in itself is unsatisfying."
"You fellows are too indefinite and abstract for me," said Bearwarden. "I like something tangible and concrete. The utilitarianism of the twentieth century, by which I live, paradoxical though it may seem, would be out of place in space, unless we can colonize the other planets, and improve their arrangements and axes."
Mixed with Ayrault's philosophical and metaphysical thoughts were the memories of his sweetheart at Vassar, and he longed, more than his companions, for the spirit's return, that he might ask him if perchance he could tell him aught of her, and whether her thoughts were then of him.
Finally, worn out by the fatigue and excitement of the day, they set the protection-wires, more from force of habit than because they feared molestation and, rolling themselves in their blankets—for the night was cold—were soon fast asleep; Ayrault's last thought having been of his fiancee, Cortlandt's of the question he wished to ask the spirit, and Bearwarden's of the progress of his Company in the work of straightening the terrestrial axis. Thus they slept seven hundred and ninety million miles beyond their earth's orbit, and more than eight hundred million from the place where the earth was then. While they lay unconscious, the clouds above them froze, and before morning there was a fall of snow that covered the ground and them as they lay upon it. Soon three white mounds were all that marked their presence, and the cranes and eagles, rising from their roosts in response to the coming day, looked unconcernedly at all that was human that they had ever seen. Finally, wakened by the resounding cries of these birds, Bearwarden and Cortlandt arose, and meeting Ayrault, who had already risen, mistook the snowy form before them for the spirit, and thinking the dead bishop had revisited them, they were preparing to welcome him, and to propound the questions they had formulated, when Ayrault's familiar voice showed them their mistake.
"Seeing your white figures," said he, "rise apparently in response to those loud calls, reminded me of what the spirit told us of the last day, and of the awakening and resurrection of the dead."
The scene was indeed weird. The east, already streaked with the rays of the rising far-away sun, and the pale moons nearing the horizon in the west, seemed connected by the huge bow of light. The snow on the dark evergreens produced a contrast of colour, while the other trees raised their almost bare and whitened branches against the sky, as though in supplication to the mysterious rings, which cast their light upon them and on the ground. As they gazed, however, the rings became grey, the moons disappeared, and another day began. Feeling sure the snow must have cleared the air of any deleterious substances it contained the day before, they descended into the neighbouring valley, which, having a southerly exposure, was warm in comparison with the hills. As they walked they disturbed a number of small rodents, which quickly ran away and disappeared in their holes.
"Though we have seen none of the huge creatures here," said Cortlandt, "that were so plentiful on Jupiter, these burrowers belong to a distinctly higher scale than those we found there, from which I take it we may infer that the evolution of the animal kingdom has advanced further on this planet than on Jupiter, which is just what we have a right to expect; for Saturn, in addition to being the smaller and therefore more matured of the two, has doubtless had a longer individual existence, being the farther from the sun."
Notwithstanding the cold of the night, the flowers, especially the lilies, were as beautiful as ever, which surprised them not a little, until, on examining them closely, they found that the stems and veins in the leaves were fluted, and therefore elastic, so that, should the sap freeze, it could expand without bursting the cells, thereby enabling the flowers to withstand a short frost. They noticed that many of the curiously shaped birds they saw at a distance from time to time were able to move with great rapidity along the ground, and had about concluded that they must have four legs, being similar to winged squirrels, when a long, low quadruped, about twenty-five feet from nostrils to tail, which they were endeavouring to stalk, suddenly spread two pairs of wings, flapping the four at once, and then soared off at great speed.
"I hope we can get one of those, or at least his photograph," said Cortlandt.
"If they go in pairs," said Bearwarden, "we may find the companion near."
At that moment another great winged lizard, considerably larger than the first, rose with a snort, not twenty yards on their left. Cortlandt, who was a good shot with a gun at short range, immediately raised his twelve-bore and fired both barrels at the monster; but the double-B shots had no more disabling effect than if they had been number eights. They, however, excited the creature's ire; for, sweeping around quickly, it made straight for Cortlandt, breathing at him when near, and almost overpowering the three men with the malodorous, poisonous cloud it exhaled. Instantly Bearwarden fired several revolver bullets down its throat, while Ayrault pulled both barrels almost simultaneously, with the muzzles but a few inches from its side. In this case the initial velocity of the heavy buckshot was so great, and they were still so close together, that they penetrated the leathery hide, tearing a large hole. With a roar the wounded monster beat a retreat, first almost prostrating them with another blast of its awful breath.
"It would take a stronger light than we get here," said Bearwarden, "to impress a negative through that haze. I think," he continued, "I know a trick that will do the business, if we see any more of these dragons." Saying which, he withdrew the cartridges from his gun, and with his hunting-knife cut the tough paper shell nearly through between the wads separating the powder from the shot, drawing his knife entirely around.
"Now," said he, "when I fire those, the entire forward end of the cartridge will go out, keeping the fifteen buckshot together like a slug, and with such penetration that it will go through a two-inch plank. It is a trick I learned from hunters, and, unless your guns are choke-bore, in which case it might burst the barrel, I advise you to follow suit."
Finding they had brought straight-bored guns, they arranged their cartridges similarly, and set out in the direction in which the winged lizards or dragons had gone.
A PROVIDENTIAL INTERVENTION.
The valley narrowed as they advanced, the banks rising gently on both sides. Both dragons had flown straight to a grove of tall, spreading trees. On coming near to this, they noticed a faint smell like that of the dragon, and also like the trace they found in the air on leaving the Callisto the day before, after they had sought safety within it. Soon it almost knocked them down.
"We must get to windward," said Cortlandt. "I already feel faint, and believe those dragons could kill a man by breathing on him."
Accordingly, they skirted around the grove, and having made a quarter circle—for they did not wish the dragons to wind them—again drew nearer. Tree after tree was passed, and finally they saw an open space twelve or fifteen acres in area at the centre of the grove, when they were arrested by a curious sound of munching. Peering among the trunks of the huge trees, they advanced cautiously, but stopped aghast. In the opening were at least a hundred dragons devouring the toadstools with which the ground was covered. Many of them were thirty to forty feet long, with huge and terribly long, sharp claws, and jaws armed with gleaming batteries of teeth. Though they had evidently lungs, and the claws and mouth of an animal, they reminded the observers in many respects of insects enormously exaggerated, for their wings, composed of a sort of transparent scale, were small, and moved, as they had already seen, at far greater speed than those of a bird. Their projecting eyes were also set rigidly in their heads instead of turning, and consisted of a number of flat surfaces or facets, like a fly's eye, so that they could see backward and all around, each facet seeing anything the rays from which came at right angles to its surface. This beautiful grove was doubtless their feeding-ground, and, as such, was likely to be visited by many more. Concluding it would be wise to let their wounded game escape, the three men were about to retreat, having found it difficult to breathe the air even at that distance from the monsters, when the wounded dragon that they had observed moving about in a very restless manner, and evidently suffering a good deal from the effect of its wounds, espied them, and, with a roar that made the echoes ring, started towards them slowly along the ground, followed by the entire herd, the nearer of which now also saw them. Seeing that their lives were in danger, the hunters quickly regained the open, and then stretched their legs against the wind. The dragons came through the trees on the ground, and then, raising themselves by their wings, the whole swarm, snorting, and darkening the air with their deadly breath, made straight for the men, who by comparison looked like Lilliputians. With the slug from his right barrel Bearwarden ended the wounded dragon's career by shooting him through the head, and with his left laid low the one following. Ayrault also killed two huge monsters, and Cortlandt killed one and wounded another. Their supply of prepared cartridges was then exhausted, and they fell back on their revolvers and ineffective spreading shot. Resolved to sell their lives dearly, they retreated, keeping their backs to the wind, with the poisonous dragons in front. But the breeze was very slight, and they were being rapidly blinded and asphyxiated by the loathsome fumes, and deafened by the hideous roaring and snapping of the dragons' jaws. Realizing that they could not much longer reply to the diabolical host with lead, they believed their last hour had come, when the ground on which they were making their last stand shook, there was a rending of rocks and a rush of imprisoned steam that drowned even the dragons' roar, and they were separated from them by a long fissure and a wall of smoke and vapour. Struggling back from the edge of the chasm, they fell upon the ground, and then for the first time fully realized that the earthquake had saved them, for the dragons could not come across the opening, and would not venture to fly through the smoke and steam. When they recovered somewhat from the shock, they cut a number of cartridges in the same way that they had prepared those that had done them such good service, and kept one barrel of each gun loaded with that kind.
"We may thank Providence," said Bearwarden, "for that escape. I hope we shall have no more such close calls."
With a parting glance at the chasm that had saved their lives, and from which a cloud still arose, they turned slightly to the right of their former course and climbed the gently rising bank. When near the top, being tired of their exciting experiences, they sat down to rest. The ground all about them was covered with mushrooms, white on top and pink underneath.
"This is a wonderful place for fungi," said Ayrault. "Here, doubtless, we shall be safe from the dragons, for they seemed to prefer the toadstools." As he lay on the ground he watched one particular mushroom that seemed to grow before his eyes. Suddenly, as he looked, it vanished. Dumfounded at this unmistakable manifestation of the phenomenon they thought they had seen on landing, he called his companions, and, choosing another mushroom, the three watched it closely. Presently, without the least noise or commotion, that also disappeared, leaving no trace, and the same fate befell a number of others. At a certain point of their development they vanished as completely as a bubble of air coming to the surface of water, except that they caused no ripple, leaving merely a small depression where they had stood.
"Well," said Bearwarden, "in all my travels I never have seen anything like this. If I were at a sleight-of-hand performance, and the prestidigitateur, after doing that, asked for my theory, I should say, 'I give it up.' How is it with you, doctor?" he asked, addressing Cortlandt.
"There must be an explanation," replied Cortlandt, "only we do not know the natural law to which the phenomenon is subject, having had no experience with it on earth. We know that all substances can be converted into gases, and that all gases can be reduced to liquids, and even solids, by the application of pressure and cold. If there is any way by which the visible substance of these fungi can be converted into its invisible gases, as water into oxygen and hydrogen, what we have seen can be logically explained. Perhaps, favoured by some affinity of the atmosphere, its constituent parts are broken up and become gases at this barometric pressure and temperature. We must ask the spirit, if he visits us again."
"I wish he would," said Ayrault; "there are lots of things I should like to ask him."
"Presidents of corporations and other chairmen," said Bearwarden, "are not usually superstitious, and I, of course, take no stock in the supernatural; but somehow I have a well-formed idea that our friend the bishop, with the great power of his mind over matter, had a hand in that earthquake. He seems to have an exalted idea of our importance, and may be exerting himself to make things pleasant."
At this point the sun sank below the horizon, and they found themselves confronted with night.
"Dear, dear!" said Bearwarden, "and we haven't a crumb to eat. I'll stand the drinks and the pipes," he continued, passing around his ubiquitous flask and tobacco-pouch.
"If I played such pranks with my interior on earth," said Cortlandt, helping himself to both, "as I do on this planet, it would give me no end of trouble, but here I seem to have the digestion of an ostrich."
So they sat and smoked for an hour, till the stars twinkled and the rings shone in their glory.
"Well," said Ayrault, finally, "since we have nothing but motions to lay on the table, I move we adjourn."
"The only motion I shall make," said Cortlandt, who was already undressed, "will be that of getting into bed," saying which, he rolled himself in his blanket and soon was fast asleep.
Having decided that, on account of the proximity of the dragons, a man must in any event be on the watch, they did not set the protection-wires. From the shortness of the nights, they divided them into only two watches of from two hours to two and a half each, so that, even when constant watch duty was necessary, each man had one full night's sleep in three. On this occasion Ayrault and Cortlandt were the watchers, Cortlandt having the morning and Ayrault the evening watch. Many curious quadruped birds, about the size of large bears, and similar in shape, having bear-shaped heads, and several creatures that looked like the dragons, flew about them in the moonlight; but neither watcher fired a shot, as the creatures showed no desire to make an attack. All these species seemed to belong to the owl or bat tribe, for they roamed abroad at night.
When Ayrault's watch was ended, he roused Cortlandt, who took his place, and feeling a desire for solitude and for a last long look at the earth, he crossed the top of the ridge on the slope of which they had camped, and lay down on the farther side. The South wind in the upper air rushed along in the mighty whirl, occasionally carrying filmy clouds across the faces of the moons; but about Ayrault all was still, and he felt a quiet and serene repose. He had every intention of remaining awake, and was pondering on the steadfastness of the human heart and the constancy of love, when his meditations began to wander, and, with his last thoughts on Sylvia, he fell asleep. Not a branch moved, nor did a leaf fall, yet before Ayrault's, sleeping eyes a strange scene was enacted. A figure in white came near and stood before him, and he recognized in it one Violet Slade, a very attractive girl to whom he had been attentive in his college days. She was at that time just eighteen, and people believed that she loved him, but for some reason, he knew not why, he had not proposed.
"I thought you had died," he said, as she gazed at him, "but you are now looking better than ever."
"From the world's point of view I AM dead," she replied. "I died and was buried. It is therefore permissible that I should show you the truth. You never believed I loved you. I have wished earnestly to see you, and to have you know that I did."
"I did you an injustice," Ayrault answered, perceiving all that was in her heart. "Could mortals but see as spirits do, there would be no misunderstandings."
"I am so glad to see you," she continued, "and to know you are well. Had you not come here, we could probably not have met until after your death; for I shall not be sufficiently advanced to return to earth for a long time, though my greatest solace while there was my religion, which is all that brought me here. We, however, know that as our capacity for true happiness increases we shall be happier, and that after the resurrection there will be no more tears. Farewell," she whispered, while her eyes were filled with love.
Ayrault's sleep was then undisturbed for some time, when suddenly an angel, wreathed in light, appeared before him and spoke these words: "He that walked with Adam and talked with Moses has sent me to guard you while you sleep. No plague or fever, wild beast or earthquake, can molest you, for you are equally protected from the most powerful monster and the most insidious disease-germ. 'Blessed is the man whose offences are covered and whose sins are forgiven.' Sleep on, therefore, and be refreshed, for the body must have rest."
"A man may rest indeed," replied Ayrault, "when he has a guardian angel. I had the most unbounded faith in your existence before I saw you, and believe and know that you or others have often shielded me from danger and saved my life. Why am I worthy of so much care?"
"'Whoso dwelleth under the defence of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty,'" answered the angel, and thereupon he became invisible, a diffused light taking his place. Shortly afterwards this paled and completely vanished.
"Not only am I in paradise," thought Ayrault; "I believe I am also in the seventh heaven. Would I might hear such words again!"
A group of lilies then appeared before the sleeper's eyes. In the midst was one lily far larger than the rest, and of a dazzling white. This spoke in a gentle voice, but with the tones of a trombone:
"Thy thoughts and acts are a pleasure to me. Thou hast raised no idols within thy heart, and thy faith is as incense before me. Thy name is now in the Book of Life. Continue as thou hast begun, and thou shalt live and reign forever."
Hereupon the earth shook, and Ayrault was awakened. Great boulders were rolling and crashing down the slope about him, while the dawn was already in the east.
"My mortal eyes and senses are keener here while I sleep than when I wake," he thought, as he looked about him, "for spirits, unable to affect me while waking, have made themselves felt in my more sensitive state while I was asleep. Nevertheless, this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
"The boulders were still in motion when I opened my eyes," he mused; "can it be that there is hereabouts such a flower as in my dreams I seemed to see?" and looking beyond where his head had lain, he beheld the identical lily surrounded by the group that his closed eyes had already seen. Thereupon he uncovered his head and departed quickly. Crossing the divide, he descended to camp, where he found Cortlandt in deep thought.
"I cannot get over the dreams," said the doctor, "I had in the first part of the night. Notwithstanding yesterday's excitement and fatigue, my sleep was most disturbed, and I was visited by visions of my wife, who died long ago. She warned me against skepticism, and seemed much distressed at my present spiritual state."
"I," said Bearwarden, who had been out early, and had succeeded in bringing in half a dozen birds, "was so disturbed I could not sleep. It seemed to me as though half the men I have ever known came and warned me against agnosticism and my materialistic tendencies. They kept repeating, 'You are losing the reality for the shadow.'"
"I am convinced," said Ayrault, "that they were not altogether dreams, or, if dreams indeed, that they were superinduced by a higher will. We know that angels have often appeared to men in the past. May it not be that, as our appreciativeness increases, these communications will recur?" Thereupon he related his own experiences.
"The thing that surprised me," said Cortlandt, as they finished breakfast, "was the extraordinary realism of the scene. We must see if our visions return on anything but an empty stomach."
A GREAT VOID AND A GREAT LONGING.
Resuming their march, the travellers proceeded along the circumference of a circle having a radius of about three miles, with the Callisto in the centre. In crossing soft places they observed foot-prints forming in the earth all around them. The impressions were of all sizes, and ceased when they reached rising or hard ground, only to reappear in the swamps, regulating their speed by that of the travellers. The three men were greatly surprised at this.
"You may observe," said Cortlandt, "that the surface of the impression is depressed as you watch it, as though by a weight, and you can see, and even hear, the water being squeezed out, though whatever is doing it is entirely invisible. They must be made by spirits sufficiently advanced to have weight, but not advanced enough to make themselves visible."
Moved by a species of vandalism, Bearwarden raised his twelve-bore, and fired an ordinary cartridge that he had not prepared for the dragons, at the space directly over the nearest forming prints. There was a brilliant display of prismatic colours, as in a rainbow, and though the impressions already made remained, no new ones were formed.
"Now you have done it!" said Cortlandt. "I hoped to be able to investigate this further."
"We shall doubtless see other and perhaps more wonderful things," replied Bearwarden. "I must say this gives me an uncanny feeling."
When they had completed a little over half their circle, they came upon another of the groves with which Saturn seemed to abound, at the edge of which, in a side-hill, was a cave, the entrance of which was composed of rocky masses that had apparently fallen together, the floor being but little higher than the surface outside. The arched roof of the vestibule was rendered watertight by the soil that had formed upon it, which again was overgrown by vines and bushes.
"This," said Bearwarden, "will be a good place to camp, for the cave will protect us from dragons, unless they should take a notion to breathe at us from the outside, and it will keep us dry in case of rain. To-morrow we can start with this as a centre, and make another circuit."
"We can explore Saturn on foot," said Cortlandt, "and far more thoroughly than Jupiter, on account of its comparative freedom from monsters. Not even the dragons can trouble us, unless we meet them in large numbers."
Thereupon they set about getting fuel for their fire. Besides collecting some of the dead wood that was lying all about, they split up a number of resinous pine and fir trees with explosive bullets from their revolvers, so that soon they not only had a roaring fire, but filled the back part of the cave with logs to dry, in case they should camp there again at some later day. Neither Cortlandt nor Bearwarden felt much like sleeping, and so, after finishing the birds the president had brought down that morning, they persuaded Ayrault to sit up and smoke with them. Wrapping themselves in their blankets—for there was a chill in the air—they sat about the camp-fire they had built in the mouth of the cave. Two moons that were at the full rose rapidly in the clear, cold sky. On account of their distance from the sun, they were less bright than the terrestrial moon, but they shone with a marvellously pure pale light. The larger contained the exact features of a man. There was the somewhat aquiline nose, a clear-cut and expressive mouth, and large, handsome eyes, which were shaded by well-marked eyebrows. The whole face was very striking, but was a personification of the most intense grief. The expression was indeed sadder than that of any face they had ever seen. The other contained the profile of a surpassingly beautiful young woman. The handsome eyes, shaded by lashes, looked straight ahead. The nose was perfect, and the ear small, while the hair was artistically arranged at the top and back of the head. This moon also reflected a pure white ray. The former appeared about once and a quarter, the latter but three quarters, the size of the terrestrial moon, and the travellers immediately recognized them by their sizes and relative positions as Tethys and Dione, discovered by J. D. Cassini in March, 1684. The sad face was turned slightly towards that of its companion, and it looked as if some tale of the human heart, some romance, had been engraved and preserved for all time on the features of these dead bodies, as they silently swung in their orbits forever and anon were side by side.
"In all the ages," said Cortlandt, "that these moons have wandered with Saturn about the sun, and with the solar system in its journey through space, they can never have gazed upon the scene they now behold, for we may be convinced that no mortal man has been here before."
"We may say," said Ayrault, "that they see in our bodies a type of the source from which come all the spiritual beings that are here."
"If, as the writers of mythology supposed," replied Cortlandt, "inanimate objects were endowed with senses, these moons would doubtless be unable to perceive the spiritual beings here; for the satellites, being material, should, to be consistent, have only those senses possessed by ourselves, so that to them this planet would ordinarily appear deserted."
"I shall be glad," said Bearwarden, gloomily, "when those moons wane and are succeeded by their fellows, for one would give me an attack of the blues, while the other would subject me to the inconvenience of falling in love."
As he spoke, the upper branches of the trees in the grove began to sway as a cold gust from the north sighed among them. "Lose no more opportunities," it seemed to cry, "for life is short and uncertain. Soon you will all be colder than I, and your future, still as easily moulded as clay, will be set as Marpesian marble, more fixed than the hardest rock."
"Paradise," said Cortlandt, "contains sights and sounds that might, I should think, arouse sad reminiscences without the aid of the waters of Lethe, unless the joy of its souls in their new resources and the sense of forgiveness outweigh all else."
With a parting look at the refined, silvery moon, and its sorrow-laden companion, they retired to the sheltering cave, piled up the fire, and talked on for an hour.
"I do not see how it is," said Bearwarden, "that these moons, considering their distance from the sun, and the consequently small amount of light they receive, are so bright."
"A body's brightness in reflecting light," replied Cortlandt, "depends as much on the colour and composition of its own surface as on the amount it receives. It is conceivable that these moons, if placed at the earth's distance from the sun, would be far brighter than our moon, and that our familiar satellite, if removed to Saturn, would seem very dim. We know how much more brilliant a mountain in the sunlight is when clad in snow than when its sides are bare. These moons evidently reflect a large proportion of the light they receive."
When they came out shortly after midnight the girl's-face moon had already set, leaving a dark and dreary void in the part of the sky it had so ideally filled. The inexpressibly sad satellite (on account of its shorter distance and more rapid rate of revolution) was still above the horizon, and, being slightly tilted, had a more melancholy, heart-broken look than before. While they gazed sadly at the emptiness left by Dione, Cortlandt saw Ayrault's expression change, and, not clearly perceiving its cause, said, wishing to cheer him: "Never mind, Dick; to-morrow night we shall see it again."
"Ah, prosaic reasoner," retorted Bearwarden, who saw that this, like so many other things, had reminded Ayrault of Sylvia, "that is but small consolation for having lost it now, though I suppose our lot is not so hard as if we were never to see it again. In that moon's face I find the realization of my fancied ideal woman; while that sad one yonder seems as though some celestial lover, in search of his fate, had become enamoured of her, and tried in vain to win her, and the grief in his mind had impressed itself on the then molten face of a satellite to be the monument throughout eternity of love and a broken heart. If the spirits and souls of the departed have any command of matter, why may not their intensest thoughts engrave themselves on a moon that, when dead and frozen, may reflect and shine as they did, while immersed in the depths of space? At first Dione bored me; now I should greatly like to see her again."
"History repeats itself," replied Cortlandt, "and the same phases of life recur. It is we that are in a changed receptive mood. The change that seems to be in them is in reality in us. Remain as you are now, and Dione will give you the same pleasure tomorrow that she gave to-day."
To Ayrault this meant more than the mere setting to rise again of a heavenly body. The perfume of a flower, the sighing of the wind, suggesting some harmony or song, a full or crescent moon, recalled thoughts and associations of Sylvia. Everything seemed to bring out memory, and he realized the utter inability of absence to cure the heart of love. "If Sylvia should pass from my life as that moon has left my vision," his thoughts continued, "existence would be but sadness and memory would be its cause, for the most beautiful sounds entail sorrow; the most beautiful sights, intense pain. Ah," he went on with a trace of bitterness, while his friends fell asleep in the cave, "I might better have remained in love with science; for whose studies Nature, which is but a form of God, in the right spirit, is not dependent for his joy or despair on the whims of a girl. She, of course, sees many others, and, being only twenty, may forget me. Must I content myself with philosophical rules and mathematical formulae, when she, whose changefulness I may find greater than the winds that sigh over me, now loves me no longer? O love, which makes us miserable when we feel it, and more miserable still when it is gone!"
He strung a number of copper wires at different degrees of tension between two trees, and listened to the wind as it ranged up and down on this improvised AEolian harp. It gradually ran into a regular refrain, which became more and more like words. Ayrault was puzzled, and then amazed. There could be no doubt about it. "You should be happy," it kept repeating—"you should be happy," in soft musical tones.
"I know I should," replied Ayrault, finally recognizing the voice of Violet Slade in the song of the wind, "and I cannot understand why I am not. Tell me, is this paradise, Violet, or is it not rather purgatory?"
The notes ranged up and down again, and he perceived that she was causing the wind to blow as she desired—in other words, she was making it play upon his harp.
"That depends on the individual," she replied. "It is rather sheol, the place of departed spirits. Those whose consciences made them happy on earth are in paradise here; while those good enough to reach heaven at last, but in whom some dross remains, are further refined in spirit, and to them it is purgatory. Those who are in love can be happy in but one way while their love lasts. What IS happiness, anyway?"
"It is the state in which desires are satisfied, my fair Violet," answered Ayrault.
"Say, rather, the state in which desire coincides with duty," replied the song. "Self-sacrifice for others gives the truest joy; being with the object of one's love, the next. You never believed that I loved you. I dissembled well; but you will see for yourself some day, as clearly as I see your love for another now."
"Yes," replied Ayrault, sadly, "I am in love. I have no reason to believe there is cause for my unrest, and, considering every thing, I should be happy as man can be; yet, mirabile dictu, I am in—hades, in the very depths!"
"Your beloved is beyond my vision; your heart is all I can see. Yet I am convinced she will not forget you. I am sure she loves you still."
"I have always believed in homoeopathy to the extent of the similia similibus curantur, Violet, and it is certain that where nothing else will cure a man of love for one woman, his love for another will. You can see how I love Sylvia, but you have never seemed so sweet to me as to-day."
"It is a sacrilege, my friend, to speak so to me now. You are done with me forever. I am but a disembodied spirit, and escaped hades by the grace of the Omnipotent, rather than by virtue of any good I did on earth. So far as any elasticity is left in my opportunities, I am dead as yon moon. You have still the gift that but one can give. Within your animal body you hold an immortal soul. It is pliable as wax; you can mould it by your will. As you shape that soul, so will your future be. It is the ark that can traverse the flood. Raise it, and it will raise you. It is all there is in yourself. Preserve that gift, and when you die you will, I hope, start on a plane many thousands of years in advance of me. There should be no more comparison between us than between a person with all his senses and one that is deaf and blind. Though you are a layman, you should, with your faith and frame of mind, soon be but little behind our spiritual bishop."
"I supposed after death a man had rest. Is he, then, a bishop still?"
"The progress, as he told you, is largely on the old lines. As he stirred men's hearts on earth, he will stir their souls in heaven; and this is no irksome or unwelcome work."
"You say he WILL do this in heaven. Is he, then, not there yet?"
"He was not far from heaven on earth, yet technically none of us can be in heaven till after the general resurrection. Then, as we knew on earth, we shall receive bodies, though, as yet, concerning their exact nature we know but little more than then. We are all in sheol—the just in purgatory and paradise, the unjust in hell."
"Since you are still in purgatory, are you unhappy?"
"No, our state is very happy. All physical pain is past, and can never be felt again. We know that our evil desires are overcome, and that their imprints are being gradually erased. I occasionally shed an intangible tear, yet for most of those who strove to obey their consciences, purgatory, when essential, though occasionally giving us a bitter twinge, is a joy-producing state. Not all the glories imaginable or unimaginable could make us happy, were our consciences ill at ease. I have advanced slowly, yet some things are given us at once. After I realized I had irrevocably lost your love, though for a time I had hoped to regain it, I became very restless; earth seemed a prison, and I looked forward to death as my deliverer. I bore you no malice; you had never especially tried to win me; the infatuation—that of a girl of eighteen—had been all on my side. I lived five sad and lonely years, although, as you know, I had much attention. People thought me cold and heartless. How could I have a heart, having failed to win yours, and mine being broken? Having lost the only man I loved, I knew no one else could replace him, and I was not the kind to marry for pique. People thought me handsome, but I felt myself aged when you ceased to call. Perhaps when you and she who holds all your love come to sheol, she may spare you to me a little, for as a spirit my every thought is known; or perhaps after the resurrection, when I, too, can leave this planet, we shall all soar through space together, and we can study the stars as of old."
"Your voice is a symphony, sweetest Violet, and I love to hear your words. Ah, would you could once more return to earth, or that I were an ethereal spirit, that we might commune face to face! I would follow you from one end of Shadowland to the other. Of what use is life to me, with distractions that draw my thoughts to earth as gravitation drew my body? I wish I were a shade."
"You are talking for effect, Dick—which is useless here, for I see how utterly you are in love."
"I AM in love, Violet; and though, as I said, I have no reason to doubt Sylvia's steadfastness and constancy, I am very unhappy. I have always heard that time is a balsam that cures all ills, yet I become more wretched every day."
"Do all you can to preserve that love, and it will bring you joy all your life. Your happiness is my happiness. What distresses you, distresses me."
The tones here grew fainter and seemed about to cease.
"Before you leave me," cried Ayrault, "tell me how and when I may see or hear you again."
"While you remain on this planet, I shall be near; but beyond Saturn I cannot go."
"Yet tell me, Violet, how I may see you? My love unattained, you perceive, makes me wretched, while you always gave me calm and peace. If I may not kiss the hand I almost asked might be mine, let me have but a glance from your sweet eyes, which will comfort me so much now."
"If you break the ice in the pool behind you, you shall see me till the frame melts."
After this the silence was broken only by the sighing of the wind in the trees. The pool had suddenly become covered with ice several inches thick. Taking an axe, Ayrault hewed out a parallelogram about three feet by four and set it on end against the bank. The cold grey of morning was already colouring the east, and in the growing light Ayrault beheld a vision of Violet within the ice. The face was at about three fourths, and had a contemplative air. The hair was arranged as he had formerly seen it, and the thoughtful look was strongest in the beautiful grey eyes, which were more serious than of yore. Ayrault stood riveted to the spot and gazed. "I could have been happy with her," he mused, "and to think she is no more!"
As drops fell from the ice, tears rose to his eyes.
. . . . . . .
"What a pretty girl!" said Bearwarden to Cortlandt, as they came upon it later in the day. "The face seems etched or imprinted by some peculiar form of freezing far within the ice."
The next morning they again set out, and so tramped, hunted, and investigated with varying success for ten Saturnian days. They found that in the animal and plant forms of life Nature had often, by some seeming accident, struck out in a course very different from any on the earth. Many of the animals were bipeds and tripeds, the latter arranged in tandem, the last leg being evidently an enormously developed tail, by which the creature propelled itself as with a spring. The quadrupeds had also sometimes wings, and their bones were hollow, like those of birds. Whether this great motive and lifting power was the result of the planet's size and the power of gravitation, or whether some creatures had in addition the power of developing a degree of apergetic repulsion to offset it, as they suspected in the case of the boa-constrictor that fell upon Cortlandt on Jupiter, they could not absolutely ascertain. Life was far less prolific on Saturn than on Jupiter, doubtless as a result of its greater distance from the sun, and of its extremes of climate, almost all organic life being driven to the latitudes near the equator. There were, as on Jupiter, many variations from the forms of life to which they were accustomed, and adaptations to the conditions in which they found themselves; but, with the exception of the strange manifestations of spirit life, they found the workings of the fundamental laws the same. Often when they woke at night the air was luminous, and they were convinced that if they remained there long enough it would be easy to devise some telegraphic code of light-flashes by which they could communicate with the spirit world, and so get ideas from the host of spirits that had already solved the problem of life and death, but who were not as yet sufficiently developed to be able to return to the earth. One day they stopped to investigate what they had supposed to be an optical illusion. They observed that leaves and other light substances floated several inches above the surface of the water in the pools. On coming to the edge and making tests, they found a light liquid, as invisible as air, superimposed upon the water, with sufficient buoyancy to sustain dry wood and also some forms of life. They also observed that insects coming close to the surface and apparently inhaling it, rapidly increased in size and weight, from which they concluded it must throw off nitrogen, carbon, or some other nourishment in the form of gas. The depth upon the water was unaffected by rain, which passed through it, but depended rather on the condition of the atmosphere, from which it was evidently condensed. There seemed also to be a relation between the amount of this liquid and the activity of the spirits. Finally, when their ammunition showed signs of running low, they decided to return to the Callisto, go in it to the other side of the planet, and resume their investigations there. Accordingly, they set out to retrace their steps, returning by a course a few miles to one side of the way they had come, and making the cave their objective point. Arriving there one evening about sunset, they pitched their camp. The cave was sheltered and comfortable, and they made preparation for passing the night.
"I shall be sorry," said Ayrault, as they sat near their fire, "to leave this place without again seeing the bishop. He said we could impress him anywhere, but it may be more difficult to do that at the antipodes than here."
"It does seem," said Bearwarden, "as though we should be missing it in not seeing him again, if that is possible. Nothing but a poison-storm brought him the first time, and it is not certain that even in such an emergency would he come again uncalled."
"I think," said Ayrault, "as none of the spirits here are malevolent, they would warn us of danger if they could. The bishop's spirit seems to have been the only one with sufficiently developed power to reappear as a man. I therefore suggest that to-morrow we try to make him feel our thought and bring him to us."
THE SPIRIT'S SECOND VISIT.
Accordingly, the next morning they concentrated their minds simultaneously on the spirit, wishing with all their strength that he should reappear.
"Whether he be far or near," said Ayrault, "he must feel that, for we are using the entire force of our minds."
Shadows began to form, and dancing prismatic colours appeared, but as yet there was no sign of the deceased bishop, when suddenly he took shape among them, his appearance and disappearance being much like that of stereopticon views on the sheet before a lantern. He held himself erect, and his thoughtful, dignified face had the same calm expression it had worn before.
"We attracted your attention," said Ayrault, "in the way you said we might, because we longed so to see you."
"Yes," added Bearwarden and Cortlandt, "we felt we MUST see you again."
"I am always at your service," replied the spirit, "and will answer your questions. With regard to my visibility and invisibility"—he continued, with a smile, "for I will not wait for you to ask the explanation of what is in your minds—it is very simple. A man's soul can never die; a manifestation of the soul is the spirit; this has entity, consciousness, and will, and these also live forever. As in the natural or material life, as I shall call it, will affects the material first. Thus, a child has power to move its hand or a material object, as a toy, before it can become the medium in a psychological seance. So it is here. Before becoming visible to your eyes, I, by my will, draw certain material substances in the form of gases from the ground, water, or air around me. These take any shape I wish—not necessarily that of man, though it is more natural to appear as we did on earth—and may absorb a portion of light, and so be able to cast a shadow or break up the white rays into prismatic colours, or they may be wholly invisible. By an effort of the will, then, I combine and condense these gases—which consist principally of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon—into flesh, blood, water, or anything else. You have already learned on earth that, by the application of heat, every solid and every liquid substance, which is solid or liquid simply because of the temperature at which you find it, can be expanded into gas or gases; and that by cold and pressure every gas can be reduced to a liquid or a solid. On earth the state of a substance, whether solid, liquid, or gaseous, depends simply upon those two conditions. Here neither thermal nor barometric changes are required, for, by mastering the new natural laws that at death become patent to our senses, we have all the necessary control. It requires but an effort of my will to be almost instantly clothed in human form, and but another effort to rearrange the molecules in such a way as to make the envelope visible. Some who have been dead longer, or had a greater natural aptitude than I, have advanced further, and all are learning; but the difference in the rate at which spirits acquire control of previously unknown natural laws varies far more than among individuals on earth.
"These forms of organic life do not disintegrate till after death; here in the natural state they break down and dissolve into their structural elements in full bloom, as was done by the fungi. The poisonous element in the deadly gust, against which I warned you, came from the gaseous ingredients of toadstools, which but seldom, and then only when the atmosphere has the greatest affinity for them, dissolve automatically, producing a death-spreading wave, against which your meteorological instruments in future can warn you. The slight fall you noticed in temperature was because the specific heat of these gases is high, and to become gas while in the solid state they had to withdraw some warmth from the air. The fatal breath of the winged lizards—or dragons, as you call them—results from the same cause, the action of their digestion breaking up the fungus, which does not kill them, because they exhale the poisonous part in gaseous form with their breath. The mushrooms dissolve more easily; the natural separation that takes place as they reach a certain stage in their development being precipitated by concussion or shock.
"Having seen that, as on earth, we gain control of the material first, our acquisitiveness then extends to a better understanding and appreciation of our new senses, and we are continually finding new objects of beauty, and new beauties in things we supposed we already understood. We were accustomed on earth to the marvellous variety that Nature produced from apparently simple means and presented to our very limited senses; here there is an indescribably greater variety to be examined by vastly keener senses. The souls in hell have an equally keen but distorted counterpart of our senses, so that they see in a magnified form everything vile in themselves and in each other. To their senses only the ugly and hateful side is visible, so that the beauty and perfume of a flower are to them as loathsome as the appearance and fumes of a toadstool. As evolution and the tendency of everything to perpetuate itself and intensify its peculiarities are invariable throughout the universe, these unhappy souls and ourselves seem destined to diverge more and more as time goes on; and while we constantly become happier as our capacity for happiness increases, their sharpening senses will give them a worse and worse idea of each other, till their mutual repugnance will know no bounds, and of everything concerning which they obtain knowledge through their senses. Thus these poor creatures seem to be the victims of circumstances and the unalterable laws of fate, and were there such a thing as death, their misery would unquestionably finally break their hearts. That there will be final forgiveness for the condemned, has long been a human hope; but as yet they have experienced none, and there is no analogy for it in Nature.
"But while you have still your earthly bodies and the opportunities they give you of serving God, you need not be concerned about hell; no one on earth, knowing how things really are, would ever again forsake His ways. The earthly state is the most precious opportunity of securing that for which a man would give his all. Even from the most worldly point of view, a man is an unspeakable fool not to improve his talents and do good. What would those in sheol not give now for but one day in the flesh on earth, of which you unappreciatives may still have so many? The well-used opportunities of even one hour might bring joy to those in paradise forever, and greatly ease the lot of those in hell. In doing acts of philanthropy, however, you must remember the text of the sermon the doctor of divinity preached to Craniner and Ridley just before they perished at the stake: 'Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing'—which shows that even good deeds must be performed in the proper spirit.
"A new era is soon to dawn on earth. Notwithstanding your great material progress, the future will exceed all the past. Man will find every substance's maximum use, thereby vastly increasing his comfort. Then, when advanced in science and reason, with the power of his senses increased by the delicate instruments that you, as the forerunners of the coming man, are already learning to make, may he cease to be a groveller, like our progenitors the quadrupeds, and may his thoughts rise to his Creator, who has brought him to such heights through all the intricacies of the way. Your preparation for the life to come can also be greatly aided by intercourse with those who have already died. When you really want to associate spiritually with us, you can do so; for, though perhaps only one in a hundred million can, like me, so clothe himself as to be again visible to mortal eyes, many of us could affect gelatine or extremely sensitive plates that would show interruptions in the ultra-violet chemical rays that, like the thermal red beyond the visible spectroscope, you know exist though you can neither see nor feel them. Spirits could not affect the magnetic eye, because magnetism, though immaterial itself, is induced and affected only by a material substance. The impression on the plate, however, like the prismatic colours you have already noticed, can be produced by a slight rarefaction of the hydrogen in the air, so that, though no spirit could be photographed as such, a code and language might be established by means of the effect produced on the air by the spirit's mind. I am so interested in the subject of my disquisition that I had almost forgotten that your spirits are still subject to the requirements of the body. Last time I dined with you; let me now play the host."
"We shall be charmed to dine with you," said Ayrault, "and shall be only too glad of anything that will keep you with us."
"Then," said the spirit, "as the tablecloth is laid, we need only to have something on it. Let each please hold a corner," he continued, taking one himself with his left hand, while he passed his right to his brow. Soon flakes as of snow began to form in the air above, and slowly descended upon the cloth; and, glancing up, the three men saw that for a considerable height this process was going on, the flakes increasing in size as they fell till they attained a length of several inches. When there was enough for them all on the table-cloth the shower ceased. Sitting down on the ground, they began to eat this manna, which had a delicious flavour and marvellous purity and freshness.
"As you doubtless have already suspected," said the spirit, "the basis of this in every case is carbon, combined with nitrogen in its solid form, and with the other gases the atmosphere here contains. You may notice that the flakes vary in colour as well as in taste, both of which are of course governed by the gas with which the carbon, also in its visible form, is combined. It is almost the same process as that performed by every plant in withdrawing carbon from the air and storing it in its trunk in the form of wood, which, as charcoal, is again almost pure carbon, only in this case the metamorphosis is far more rapid. This is perhaps the natural law that Elijah, by God's aid, invoked in the miracle of the widow's cruse, and that produced the manna that fed the Israelites in the desert; while apergy came in play in the case of the stream that Moses called from the rock in the wilderness, which followed the descendants of Abraham over the rough country through which they passed. In examining miracles with the utmost deference, as we have a right to, we see one law running through all. Even in Christ's miracle of changing the water to wine, there was a natural law, though only one has dwelt on earth who could make that change, which, from a chemist's standpoint, was peculiarly difficult on account of the required fermentation, which is the result of a developed and matured germ. Many of His miracles, however, are as far beyond my small power as heaven is above the earth. Much of the substance of the loaves and fishes with which He fed the multitude—the carbon and nitrogenous products—also came from the air, though He could have taken them from many other sources. The combination and building up of these in the ordinary way would have taken weeks or months, but was performed instantaneously by His mighty power."
"What natural laws are known to you," asked Bearwarden, "that we do not understand, or concerning the existence of which we are ignorant?"
"Most of the laws in the invisible world," said the spirit, "are the counterpart or extension of laws that appear on earth, though you as yet understand but a small part of those, many not having come to your notice. You, for instance, know that light, heat, and motion are analogous, and either of the last two can be converted into the other; but in practice you produce motion of the water molecules by the application of heat, and seldom reverse it. One of the first things we master here is the power to freeze or boil water, by checking the motion of the molecules in one case, and by increasing it, and their mutual repulsion, in the other. This is by virtue of a simple law, though in this case there is no natural manifestation of it on earth with which to compare it. While knowledge must be acquired here through study, as on earth, the new senses we receive with the awakening from death render the doing so easy, though with only the senses we had before it would have been next to impossible.
"At this moment snow is falling on the Callisto; but this you could not know by seeing, and scarcely any degree of evolution could develop your sight sufficiently, unassisted by death. With your instruments, however, you could already perceive it, notwithstanding the intervening rocks.
"Your research on earth is the best and most thorough in the history of the race; and could we but give you suggestions as to the direction in which to push it, the difference between yourselves and angels might be but little more than that between the number and intensity of the senses and the composition of the body. By the combination of natural laws you have rid yourselves of the impediment of material weight, and can roam through space like spirits, or as Columbus, by virtue of the confidence that came with the discovery of the mariner's compass, roamed upon and explored the sea. You have made a good beginning, and were not your lives so short, and their requirements so peremptory, you might visit the distant stars.
"I will show you the working of evolution. Life sleeps in minerals, dreams in plants, and wakes in you. The rock worn by frost and age crumbles to earth and soil. This enters the substance of the primordial plant, which, slowly rising; produces the animal germ. After that the way is clear, and man is evolved from protoplasm through the vertebrate and the ape. Here we have the epitome of the struggle for life in the ages past, and the analogue of the journey in the years to come. Does not the Almighty Himself make this clear where He says through his servant Isaiah, 'Behold of these stones will I raise up children'?—and the name Adam means red earth. God, having brought man so far, will not let evolution cease, and the next stage of life must be the spiritual."
"Can you tell us anything," asked Ayrault, "concerning the bodies that those surviving the final judgment will receive?"
"Notwithstanding the unfolding of knowledge that has come to us here," replied the spirit, "there are still some subjects concerning which we must look for information to the inspired writers in the Bible, and every gain or discovery goes to prove their veracity. We know that there are celestial bodies and bodies terrestrial, and that the spiritual bodies we shall receive in the resurrection will have power and will be incorruptible and immortal. We also know by analogy and reason that they will be unaffected by the cold and void of space, so that their possessors can range through the universe for non-nillions and decillions of miles, that they will have marvellous capacities for enjoying what they find, and that no undertaking or journey will be too difficult, though it be to the centre of the sun. Though many of us can already visit the remote regions of space as spirits, none can as yet see God; but we know that as the sight we are to receive with our new bodies sharpens, the pure in heart will see Him, though He is still as invisible to the eyes of the most developed here as the ether of space is to yours."
CASSANDRA AND COSMOLOGY.
The water-jug being empty, Ayrault took it up, and, crossing the ridge of a small hill, descended to a running-brook. He had filled it, and was straightening himself, when the stone on which he stood turned, and he might have fallen, had not the bishop, of whose presence he had been unaware, stretched out his hand and upheld him.
"I thought you might need a little help," he said with a smile, "and so walked beside you, though you knew it not. Water is heavy, and you may not yet have become accustomed to its Saturnian weight."
"Many thanks, my master," replied Ayrault, retaining his hand. "Were it not that I am engaged to the girl I love, and am sometimes haunted by the thought that in my absence she may be forgetting me, I should wish to spend the rest of my natural life here, unless I could persuade you to go with me to the earth."
"By remaining here," replied the spirit, with a sad look, "you would be losing the most priceless opportunities of doing good. Neither will I go with you; but, as your distress is real, I will tell you of anything happening on earth that you wish to know."
"Tell me, then, what the person now in my thoughts is doing."
"She is standing in a window facing west, watering some forget-me-nots with a small silver sprinkler which has a ruby in the handle."
"Can you see anything else?"
"Beneath the jewel is an inscription that runs:
'By those who in warm July are born A single ruby should be worn; Then will they be exempt and free From love's doubts and anxiety.'"
"Marvellous! Had I any doubts as to your prescience and power, they would be dispelled now. One thing more let me ask, however: Does she still love me?"
"In her mind is but one thought, and in her heart is an image—that of the man before me. She loves you with all her soul."
"My most eager wish is satisfied, and for the moment my heart is at rest," replied Ayrault, as they turned their steps towards camp. "Yet, such is my weakness by nature, that, ere twenty-four hours have passed I shall long to have you tell me again."
"I have been in love myself," replied the spirit, "and know the feeling; yet to be of the smallest service to you gives me far more happiness than it can give you. The mutual love in paradise exceeds even the lover's love on earth, for it is only those that loved and can love that are blessed.
"You can hardly realize," the bishop continued, as they rejoined Bearwarden and Cortlandt, "the joy that a spirit in paradise experiences when, on reopening his eyes after passing death, which is but the portal, he finds himself endowed with sight that enables him to see such distances and with such distinctness. The solar system, with this ringed planet, its swarm of asteroids, and its intra-Mercurial planets—one of which, Vulcan, you have already discovered—is a beautiful sight. The planets nearest the sun receive such burning rays that their surfaces are red-hot, and at the equator at perihelion are molten. These are not seen from the earth, because, rising or setting almost simultaneously with the sun, they are lost in its rays. The great planet beyond Neptune's orbit is perhaps the most interesting. This we call Cassandra, because it would be a prophet of evil to any visitor from the stars who should judge the solar system by it. This planet is nearly as large as Jupiter, being 80,000 miles in diameter, but has a specific gravity lighter than Saturn. Bode's law, you know, says, Write down 0, 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 96. Add 4 to each, and get 4, 7, 10, 16, 28, 52, 100; and this series of numbers represents very nearly the relative distances of the planets from the sun. According to this law, you would expect the planet next beyond Neptune to be about 5,000,000,000 miles from the sun. But it is about 9,500,000,000, so that there is a gap between Neptune and Cassandra, as between Mars and Jupiter, except that in Cassandra's case there are no asteroids to show where any planet was; we must, then, suppose it is an exception to Bode's law, or that there was a planet that has completely disappeared. As Cassandra would be within the law if there had been an intermediary planet, we have good prima facie reason for believing that it existed. Cassandra takes, in round numbers, a thousand years to complete its orbit, and from it the sun, though brighter, appears no larger than the earth's evening or morning star. Cassandra has also three large moons; but these, when full, shine with a pale-grey light, like the old moon in the new moon's arms, in that terrestrial phenomenon when the earth, by reflecting the crescent's light, and that of the sun, makes the dark part visible. The temperature at Cassandra's surface is but little above the cold of space, and no water exists in the liquid state, it being as much a solid as aluminum or glass. There are rivers and lakes, but these consist of liquefied hydrogen and other gases, the heavier liquid collected in deep Places, and the lighter, with less than half the specific gravity of ether, floating upon it without mixing, as oil on water. When the heavier penetrates to a sufficient depth, the interior being still warm, it is converted into gas and driven back to the surface, only to be recondensed on reaching the upper air. Thus it may happen that two rains composed of separate liquids may fall together. There being but little of any other atmosphere, much of it consists of what you might call the vapour of hydrogen, and many of the well-known gases and liquids on earth exist only as liquids and solids; so that, were there mortal inhabitants on Cassandra, they might build their houses of blocks of oxygen or chlorine, as you do of limestone or marble, and use ice that never melts, in place of glass, for transparence. They would also use mercury for bullets in their rifles, just as inhabitants of the intra-Vulcan planets at the other extreme might, if their bodies consisted of asbestos, or were in any other way non-combustibly constituted, bathe in tin, lead, or even zinc, which ordinarily exist in the liquid state, as water and mercury do on the earth.
"Though Cassandra's atmosphere, such as it is, is mostly clear, for the evaporation from the rivers and icy mediterraneans is slight, the brightness of even the highest noon is less than an earthly twilight, and the stars never cease to shine. The dark base of the rocky cliffs is washed by the frigid tide, but there is scarcely a sound, for the pebbles cannot be moved by the weightless waves, and an occasional murmur is all that is heard. Great rocks of ice reflect the light of the grey moons, and never a leaf falls or a bird sings. With the exception of the mournful ripples, the planet is silent as the grave. The animal and plant kingdoms do not exist; only the mineral and spiritual worlds. I say spiritual, because there are souls upon it; but it is the home of the condemned in hell. Here dwell the transgressors who died unrepentant, and those who were not saved by faith. This is the one instance in which I do not enjoy my developed sight, for I sometimes glance in their direction, and the vision that meets me, as my eyes focus, distresses my soul. Their senses are like an imperfect mirror, magnifying all that is bad in one another, and distorting anything still partially good when that exists. All those things that might at least distract them are hollow, their misery being the inevitable result of the condition of mind to which they became accustomed on earth and which brought them to Cassandra. But let us turn to something brighter.
"Though the solar system may seem complex, the sun is but a star among the millions in the Milky Way, and, compared with the planetary systems of Sirius, the stars of the Southern Cross, and the motions of the nebula, it is simplicity itself. Compared with the splendour of Sirius, with its diameter of twelve million miles, the sun, measuring but eight hundred and forty thousand, becomes insignificant; and this giant's system includes groups and clusters of planets, many with three times the mass of Jupiter, five and six together, each a different colour, revolving about a common centre, while they swing about their primary. Their numerous moons have satellites encircling them, with orbits in some cases at right angles to the plane of the ecliptic, so that they shine perpendicularly on what correspond to the arctic and antarctic regions, while their axes are so inclined that the satellites turn a complete somersault at each revolution, producing glistening effects of ice and snow at the poles. Some of the moons are at a red or white heat, and so prevent the chill of night on the planets, while they shine with more than reflected light. In addition to the five or six large planets in each group, which, however, are many millions of miles apart, there is in some clusters a small planet that swings backward and forward across the common centre, like a pendulum, but in nearly a straight line; and while this multiplicity of motion goes on, the whole aggregation sweeps majestically around Sirius, its mighty sun. Our little solar system contains, as we know, about one thousand planets, satellites, and asteroids large enough to be dignified by the name of heavenly bodies. Vast numbers of the stars have a hundred and even a thousand times the mass of our sun, and their systems being relatively as complex as ours—in some cases even more so—they contain a hundred thousand or a million individual bodies.
"Over sixty million bright or incandescent stars were visible to the terrestrial telescopes a hundred years ago, the average size of which far exceeds our sun. To the magnificent telescopes of to-day they are literally countless, and the number can be indefinitely extended as your optical resources grow. Yet the number of stars you see is utterly insignificant compared with the cold and dark ones you cannot see, but concerning which you are constantly learning more, by observing their effect on the bright ones, both by perturbing them and by obscuring their rays. Occasionally, as you know, a star of the twelfth or fifteenth magnitude, or one that has been invisible, flares up for several months to the fourth or fifth, through a collision with some dark giant, and then returns to what it was in the beginning, a gaseous, filmy nebula. These innumerable hosts of dark monsters, though dead, are centres of systems, like most of the stars you can see.
"A slight consideration of these figures will show that, notwithstanding the number of souls the Creator has given life on earth, each one might in fact have a system to himself; and that, however long the little globe may remain, as it were, a mint, in which souls are tried by fire and moulded, and receive their final stamp, they will always have room to circulate, and will be prized according to the impress their faces or hearts must show. But Sirius itself is moving many times faster than the swiftest cannon ball, carrying its system with it; and I see you asking, 'To what does all this motion tend?' I will show you. Many quadrillions of miles away, so far that your most powerful telescopes have not yet caught a glimmer, rests in its serene grandeur a star that we call Cosmos, because it is the centre of this universe. Its diameter is as great as the diameter of Cassandra's orbit, and notwithstanding its terrific heat, its specific gravity, on account of the irresistible pressure at and near the centre, is as great as that of the planet Mercury. This holds all that your eyes or mine can see; and the so-called motions of the stars—for we know that Sirius, among others, is receding—is but the difference in the rate at which the different systems and constellations swing around Cosmos, though in doing so they often revolve about other systems or swing round common centres, so that many are satellites of satellites many times repeated. The orbits of some are circular, and of others elliptical, as those of comets, and some revolve about each other, or, as we have seen, about a common point while they perform their celestial journey. A star, therefore, recedes or advances, as Jupiter and Venus with relation to the earth. The planet in the smaller orbit moves faster than that in the larger, so that the intervening distances wax and wane, though all are going in the same general direction. In the case of the members of the solar system, astronomical record can tell when even a most distant known planet has been in opposition or conjunction; but the earth has scarcely been habitable since the sun was last in its present position in its orbit around Cosmos. The curve that our system follows is of such radius that it would require the most precise observations for centuries to show that it was not a straight line.
"We call this the universe because it is all that the clearest eyes or telescopes have been able to see, but it is only a subdivision—in fact, but a system on a vaster scale than that of the sun or of Sirius. Far beyond this visible universe, my intuition tells me, are other systems more gigantic than this, and entirely different in many respects. Even the effects of gravitation are modified by the changed condition; for these systems are spread out flat, like the rings of this planet, and the ether of space is luminous instead of black, as here. These systems are but in a later stage of development than ours; and in the course of evolution our visible universe will be changed in the same way, as I can explain.
"In incalculable ages, the forward motion of the planets and their satellites will be checked by the resistance of the ether of space and the meteorites and solid matter they encounter. Meteorites also overtake them, and, by striking them as it were in the rear, propel them, but more are encountered in front—an illustration of which you can have by walking rapidly or riding on horseback on a rainy day, in which case more drops will strike your chest than your back. The same rule applies to bodies in space, while the meteorites encountered have more effect than those following, since in one case it is the speed of the meteor minus that of the planet, and in the other the sum of the two velocities. With this checking of the forward motion, the centrifugal force decreases, and the attraction of the central body has more effect. When this takes place the planet or satellite falls slightly towards the body around which it revolves, thereby increasing its speed till the centrifugal force again balances the centripetal. This would seem to make it descend by fits and starts, but in reality the approach is nearly constant, so that the orbits are in fact slightly spiral. What is true of the planets and satellites is also true of the stars with reference to Cosmos; though many even of these have subordinate motions in their great journey. Though the satellites of the moons revolve about the primaries in orbits inclined at all kinds of angles to the planes of the ecliptics, and even the moons vary in their paths about the planets, the planets themselves revolve about the stars, like those of this system about the sun, in substantially the same plane; and what is true of the planets is even more true of the stars in their orbits about Cosmos, so that when, after incalculable ages, they do fall, they strike this monster sun at or near its equator, and not falling perpendicularly, but in a line varying but slightly from a tangent, and at terrific speed, they cause the colossus to rotate more and more rapidly on its own axis, till it must become greatly flattened at the poles, as the earth is slightly, and as Jupiter and Saturn are a good deal. Even though not all the stars are exactly in the plane of Cosmos's equator, as you can see they are not there are as many above as below it, so that the general average will be there; and as all are moving in the same direction, it is not necessary for all to strike the same line, those striking nearer the poles, where the circles are smaller, and where the surface is not being carried forward so fast by the giant's rotation, will have even more effect in increasing its speed, since it will be like attaching the driving-rods of a locomotive near the axle instead of near the circumference, and with enough power will produce even greater results. As Cosmos waxes greater from the result of these continual accretions, its attraction for the stars will increase, until those coming from the outer regions of its universe will move at such terrific speed in their spiral orbits that before coming in contact they will be almost invisible, having already absorbed all solid matter revolving about themselves. These accessions of moving matter, continually received at and near its equator, will cause Cosmos to spread out like Saturn's rings till it becomes flat, though the balance of forces will be so perfect that it is doubtful whether an animal or a man placed there would feel much change.
"But these universes—or, more accurately, divisions of the universe—already planes, though the vast surfaces are not so flat as to preclude beautiful and gently rolling slopes, are spirit-lands, and will be inhabited only by spirits. Then there are great phosphorescent areas, and the colour of the surface changes with every hour of the day, from the most brilliant crimson to the softest shade of blue, radiant with many colours that your eyes cannot now see. There are also myriads of scented streams, consisting of hundreds of different and multi-coloured liquids, each with a perfume sweeter than the most delicate flower, and pouring forth the most heavenly music as they go on their way. But be not surprised at the magnitude of the change, for is it not written in Revelation, 'I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away'? Nor can we be surprised at vastness, sublimity, and beauty such as never was conceived of, for do we not find this in His word, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him'? In this blissful state, those that feared God and obeyed their consciences will live on forever; but their rest can never become stagnation, for evolution is one of the most constant laws, and never ceases, and they must always go onward and upward, unspeakably blessed by the consciences they made their rule in life, till in purity and power they shall equal or exceed the angels of their Lord in heaven.
"But you men of finite understanding will ask, as I myself should have asked, How, by the law of hydrostatics, can liquids flow on a plane? Remember that, though these divisions are astronomical or geometrical planes, their surfaces undulate; but the moving cause is this: At the centre of these planes is a pole, the analogue, we will say, of the magnetic pole on earth, that has a more effective attraction for a gas than for a liquid. When liquids approach the periphery of the circle, the rapid rotation and decreased pressure cause them to break up, whereupon the elementary gases return to the centre in the atmosphere, if near the surface, forming a gentle breeze. On nearing the centre, the cause of the separation being removed, the gases reunite to form a liquid, and the centrifugal force again sends this on its journey."
"Is there no way," asked Bearwarden, "by which a man may retrieve himself, if he has lost or misused his opportunities on earth?"
"The way a man lays up treasures in heaven, when on earth," replied the spirit, "is by gladly doing something for some one else, usually in some form sacrificing self. In hell no one can do anything for any one else, because every one can have the semblance of anything he wishes by merely concentrating his mind upon it, though, when he has it, it is but a shadow and gives him no pleasure. Thus no one can give any one else anything he cannot obtain himself; and if he could, since it would be no sacrifice on his part, he would derive no great moral comfort from it. Neither can any one comfort any one else by putting his acts or offences in a new light, for every one knows the whole truth about himself and everybody else, so that nothing can be made to appear favourably or unfavourably. All this, however, is supposing there is the desire to be kind; but how can spirits that were selfish and ill-disposed on earth, where there are so many softening influences, have good inclinations in hell, where they loathe one another with constantly increasing strength?
"Inasmuch as both the good and the bad continue on the lines on which they started when on earth, we are continually drawing nearer to God, while they are departing. The gulf may be only one of feeling, but that is enough. It follows, then, that with God as our limit, which we of course can never reach, their limit, in the geometrical sense, must be total separation from Him. Though all spirits, we are told, live forever, it occurs to me that in God's mercy there may be a gradual end; for though to the happy souls in heaven a thousand years may seem as nothing, existence in hell must drag along with leaden limbs, and a single hour seem like a lifetime of regret. Since it is dreadful to think that such unsoothed anguish should continue forever, I have often pondered whether it might not be that, by a form of involution and reversal of the past law, the spirit that came to life evolved from the mineral, plant, and animal worlds, may mercifully retrace its steps one by one, till finally the soul shall penetrate the solid rock and hide itself by becoming part of the planet. Many people in my day believed that after death their souls would enter stately trees, and spread abroad great branches, dropping dead leaves over the places on which they had stood while on earth. This might be the last step in the awful tragedy of the fall and involution of a human soul. In this way, those who had wasted the priceless opportunities given them by God might be mercifully obliterated, for it seems as if they would not be needed in the economy of the universe. The Bible, however, mentions no such end, and says unmistakably that hell will last forever; so that in this supposition, as in many others, the wish is probably father of the thought."
"But," persisted Bearwarden, "how about death-bed repentances?"
"Those," replied the spirit, "are few and far between. The pains of death at the last hour leave but little room for aught but vain regret. A man dies suddenly, or may be unconscious some time before the end. But they do occur. The question is, How much credit is it to be good when you can do no more harm? The time to resist evil and do that which is right is while the temptation is on and in its strength. While life lasts there is hope, but the books are sealed by death. The tree must fall to one side or the other—there is no middle ground—and as the tree falleth, so it lieth.
"This, however, is a gloomy subject, and one that in your heart of hearts you understand. I would rather tell you more of the beauties and splendours of space—of the orange, red, and blue stars, and of the tremendous cyclonic movements going on within them, which are even more violent than the storms that rage in the sun. The clouds, as the spectroscope has already shown, consist of iron, gold, and platinum in the form of vapour, while the openings revealed by sun-spots, or rather star-spots, are so tremendous that a comparatively small one would contain many dozen such globes as the earth. I could tell you also of the mysteries of the great dark companions of some of the stars, and of the stars that are themselves dark and cold, with naught but the faraway constellations to cheer them, on which night reigns eternally, and that far outnumber the stars you can see. Also of the multiplicity of sex and extraordinary forms of life that exist there, though on none of them are there mortal men like those on the earth.