Parallel Planetary Life
Part of: Other World Life
From: Pharaoh's Broker
I was sleeping soundly on my deliciously soft heap of downy pillows,
when in the early morning I was awakened by a pounding on the door of
the ante-chamber. As one always wakens from a sound sleep with his most
familiar language upon his tongue, I cried out in English, "Who's
there?" The doctor answered, wishing to be let in. I fumbled about in
the darkness sleepily, and opened the door, and he lighted two of my
gas-lamps with the one he carried. He looked rather tired and worn.
"I am possessed by a tyrant idea, which will not let me sleep," he said.
"I must get rid of it before morning. Come, get your senses about you,
and listen to me," he commanded, as I yawned and rubbed my fists into my
eyes, blinded by the sudden strong light.
"If you think I can sleep with it any better than you can, out with it,"
"How does it happen that a young Hebrew is ruler over all these people?"
"Do you lie awake thinking up conundrums?" I ejaculated.
"On Earth, what notable Jews have been rulers over a great people not of
their own race?" he continued.
"Disraeli in England, Joseph in Egypt, and--well, that is all I can
think of just now."
"Perhaps that is enough. Egypt was the greatest grain-raising country in
Joseph's time, wasn't it?"
"Yes, of course," I answered. "And Joseph's rule began with seven years
of most wonderful crops."
"Zaphnath told us this morning that the seventh great crop, and the most
plenteous of all, is now growing," he interrupted.
"What has that to do with Joseph? We are not on Earth, but on Mars. Have
you been dreaming? Zaphnath is---- But, by the way, Joseph's Egyptian
name was Zaphnath-paaneah, meaning a revealer of secrets! When I heard
that name this morning, I thought it was strangely familiar. Pharaoh
called him that when he appointed him ruler, because he had interpreted
his dream," I said, just realizing the very peculiar coincidence.
"You are as good as a Bible!" cried the doctor. "Perhaps you can also
remember by which of Jacob's wives Joseph was born?"
"Of course I can. He was the first son of Rachel, the wife whom Jacob
really loved, and worked fourteen years to secure."
"But how could he have ten older brothers, if he was Rachel's first
son?" he demanded, a little perplexed.
"They were all the sons of her sister Leah and her handmaidens. Rachel
was barren all her life until Joseph was born," I explained.
"And Zaphnath said this morning that his mother was barren all the years
of her life that the Blue Star wandered. He also called himself revealer
of God's hidden things."
"Yes; and it struck me as peculiar at the time that he said of 'God's'
not of 'the gods','" I reflected. "Evidently he thinks there is but
one God. The whole matter is altogether peculiar."
"Here are the facts," replied the doctor. "Listen to them attentively.
We have dropped down into a civilization here upon Mars which coincides
in every important particular with that of the Ancient Egyptians on
Earth. They are great builders, erecters of monuments, raisers of grain,
polygamists, and they now have a young Hebrew ruler, corresponding in
every important respect with Joseph. We chance to have arrived during
the seventh year of plenty of Joseph's rule. Grain abounds; the soil
brings it forth 'by handfuls.' It is, 'as the sand of the sea, very
much,' and the Pharaoh, probably at the suggestion of his young ruler,
is storing it up----"
"By all the Patriarchs!" I interrupted. "They are running a wheat
corner, and I didn't know it! Go on, go on!"
"These are all very singular coincidences with a history which was
enacted many thousands of years ago on Earth. Now, how can you explain
their strange recurrence here?" he queried.
"How should I know? I haven't been lying awake! How do you explain
them?" I asked, full of interest.
"I have tossed on my pillows in there for three hours evolving a theory
for it. If it is correct, our opportunities here in Kem are simply
enormous. Now listen, and don't interrupt me. The Creator has given all
the habitable planets the same great problem of life to work out. Every
one of His worlds in its time passes through the same general history.
This runs parallel on all of them, but at a different speed on each. The
swift ones, nearest to the sun, have hurried through it, and may be
close upon the end. But this is a slow planet, whose year is almost
twice as long as the Earth's, and more than three times that of Venus.
The seasons pass sluggishly here, and history ripens slowly. This world
has only reached that early chapter in the story equivalent to Ancient
Egypt on Earth. We have forged far ahead of that, and on Venus they have
worked out far more of the story than we know anything about. If Mercury
is habitable yet, his people may have reached almost the end, but it is
most probable that life has not started there; when it does begin, it
will be worked out four times as rapidly as it has on Earth."
"Then a seven years' famine will begin here next year, and I am in
charge of the world's entire wheat supply!" I gasped, almost overwhelmed
by the speculative possibilities which this unfolded.
"It is not likely that there will be more than a general similarity of
the history. But Zaphnath has told us that this is the seventh year of
plenty. If the famine begins soon, it will be fair to suppose it will
for about seven crops. In its later developments the entire history may
change when the crucial period comes, and have a very different outcome.
But we are now almost at the beginnings of civilized history. Joseph,
the first Jew in Egypt, is a ruler here, and your entire race must
follow him hither, and pass through a miserable captivity. Even if you
remained here all your life, you would not last that long; but upon the
later doings of your people and their treatment of the Martian Messiah,
when He comes, depend the future conditions of this planet. Will it be
different then from the Earthly story? It is an extremely interesting
theory to follow to the end, but that would take thousands of years, and
we are concerned with the present."
"Doctor, if this theory be true, then we are nothing short of prophets
here!" I exclaimed, still struggling with the wonderful bearings of the
idea on our personal welfare.
"In a general way we are prophets, but Zaphnath has forestalled us on
immediate matters. Let us keep our own counsel as to any foreknowledge.
If we disclose it, we may suddenly lose our opportunities, and, besides,
we shall be powerless to change history here in any important respect."
"I might prevent Zaphnath from bringing all Israel down into Egypt, and
thus save them from that captivity," I exclaimed.
"Then you would forestall a Moses, and prevent the miraculous
deliverance of your people, and all the paternal care which God bestowed
upon them during that time. You will never be able to do this. Zaphnath
is in the way. He is headstrong and wilful. He is an active thinker and
a hard worker among a race of idlers, who live only to enjoy the fulness
of a rich land. He knows the greater activity and industry of his own
people, and he will wish to make them masters of this goodly land. I
will warrant that his head is full of plans at this very moment for
bringing his old father and all his race down here to give them
important places. See how readily he gave the keystone of the whole
situation to you. It will pay you better to keep on good terms with him.
Instead of trying to change the situation, let us make the best of it as
we find it."
"Well, I must say the present situation is attractive enough to me," I
said, and then inquired, "How many gold coins have you, Doctor?"
"I have only a hundred half eagles and a little silver coin," he
replied; "and I wish to be very sure of the correctness of my theory
before I undertake any speculations with that."
"Nonsense! What is money for, but to double, and then to double the
result again!" I exclaimed. "You work out this great theory, and then
fail to grasp its commercial importance to us. You and I will embark in
the grain business, with our entire stock of gold, the first thing in
the morning. We have iron enough to live on."
"I didn't come here to go into business," he answered. "I have a grand
scientific career to pursue, and last night's appointment puts me in
just the position to carry it out."
"Go ahead with it then, but invest your gold coins in my enterprise. I
will manage it all," I said, reaching for my belt under my pillow. "I
have here three hundred eagles and one hundred double eagles,--five
thousand dollars in all. I scarcely need your five hundred dollars, but
I don't wish to see you left out, and buying bread of me at a dollar a
loaf in a short time. Gold must have an enormous value here, considering
the small amount of it used as ornaments in the Pharaoh's household, and
the general currency of iron money. Three of these double eagles would
make a pair of ear pendants equal to his. I wonder how he would like to
have pure gold bracelets on all his women instead of those rough iron
things? And wheat must be cheaper than dirt after seven enormous crops.
I will buy all the grain he has to sell before to-morrow night! Even if
your theory is all wrong, we can't lose much."
"That is all very well, but we may as well be sure," he replied
cautiously. "You can find out much by a few discreet questions to
Zaphnath in the morning."
"The trouble about the whole matter is, that I will be obliged to do
business through him altogether until we learn this language. Come, you
must contribute your share. I have furnished the Hebrew, you must learn
the Kemish at once through those wise men. But I can't wait for that. I
will make Zaphnath teach me the necessary shop words and stock phrases
for carrying on the grain business to-morrow. I can't perform my new
duties unless he does that."
However, the doctor did not respond wholly to my new enthusiasm. He was
sleepy, and retired yawning to his own room to get the rest which had
evaded him. But I lay and tossed on the pillows, revolving a hundred
plans, and feeling anything but sleepy. Presently I thought of a scheme,
which would demonstrate whether there was anything in the doctor's
theory. I knew it would just suit him, and I sprang up and knocked
gently on his door, saying,--
"I have it, Doctor. Here is the very idea!" There was no answer, so I
knocked louder and listened. I heard him breathing heavily in deep
slumber. After all, the morrow would do for ideas; just then he needed
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