We Learn Something About The Powers Of The Martians
From: To Mars Via The Moon
The next morning Merna arrived early, and breakfasted with us; and, as
soon as the meal was over, we started out. The air was bracing and
exhilarating, and we felt so extremely light and buoyant that we almost
seemed to want to run, skip, and jump, as we did in our early
We went first to have a look at the Areonal, but, on arriving at the
open space where we had left it, were unable to see it! The dais had
been cleared away, also the pavilions; whilst in the centre of the open
space there was a large building.
We felt rather puzzled at this change, for we were sure no such building
stood there yesterday. Merna, however, led us across to it, and touched
a switch, which swung open a pair of large doors so that we could see
into the interior of the building.
There we saw our own good ship, the Areonal, safely housed in a
substantial-looking building, which had apparently sprung up in a single
We all looked at Merna inquiringly, and he smiled, saying, "Ah, you are
not used to the Martian way of doing things! This seems to you very
quick work, no doubt; but the erection of the building was not such a
heavy and laborious task as it would have been upon the earth. Owing to
the lesser gravitation here, and to the larger physical development of
our people on Mars, one man can accomplish in the same time what it
would require many men to achieve upon the earth. Besides, we have
labour-saving machinery and apparatus which your scientific men have not
yet even dreamt of.
"Thus, what seems to you an extraordinary piece of work to be finished
in so short a time, is really nothing out of the common here, especially
as the structure is only of a temporary character."
"Mon," said M'Allister, turning to John, "if our earth had been like
Mars we wouldn't have taken so many months to build our vessel and its
John answered him, and turning to Merna, said, "There is something I am
very anxious to ask you about, as it concerns myself and my relations
with the inhabitants of this planet. I do not wish to infringe any of
their regulations here, or to give any cause of offence, but--"
Then Merna held up his hand, and smiling, said, "You need not say any
more, John; I know exactly what you wish to ask me; and, without it
being said, can reply to you. You may smoke as much as you like when
out-doors, without fear of offending any one here; but in public or
private assemblies, notice what others do, and act accordingly. It is
true only a small proportion of our population indulge in smoking,
except in the colder regions; but please understand that amongst us
Martians there are few restrictions as to conduct or custom, and,
provided that nothing really dangerous or annoying to the community is
done, every one can please himself.
"We leave all such things to the good sense of the individual, and a
Martian can be trusted to regulate his habits and conduct without
needing penalties to compel the observance of regulations or
We looked at each other significantly, but without saying anything; for
we all realised the truth of Merna's statement of the previous evening
to the effect that the Martians were able to divine what might be in the
mind of another without his having to speak. Not one of us had mentioned
smoking before Merna, yet he knew exactly what John had upon his mind
and was about to ask him.
I thought it was my turn now to obtain some information, so said to
Merna, "There is also something which I am very anxious to ask you
"Oh yes, sir," replied he, again smiling; "you are anxious to know
whether we really possess an elaborate system of canalisation upon Mars,
and I can soon set your mind at rest upon that point. Indeed, it was in
order to make arrangements for conducting you to inspect some of the
canals that I left you yesterday after parting with the Chief.
"Our seas and other large bodies of water have long ceased to exist, and
we are therefore dependent upon the water arising from the dissolving
snow of our polar snow-caps for a supply of that prime necessary of
life. Our canal system is, therefore, the most supremely important work
which we have to maintain and develop, so that every part of the planet
may be supplied with water, and also kept in touch with the rest of the
planet. You must clearly understand that upon the adequacy and perfect
working of the canals all life here is dependent; so every other matter
is regarded as of lesser importance."
I may here say that we afterwards learnt that the positions of the
higher officials connected with the administration of the canal system
are regarded as amongst the highest and most honourable offices that a
Martian can aspire to; and, moreover, that Merna himself held a very
responsible position in the engineering department connected with the
Merna then went on to say: "You will see for yourselves, presently, what
our canals are like; for I am about to take you across to a point where
you will have a good view over the country.
"As our canals are such conspicuous features upon our planet, especially
where they cross the deserts, our experts have long been endeavouring,
by various means, to transmit influences to the earth, in order to
direct your people's attention to the regular lines they form, and thus
convince them that Mars is inhabited by intelligent beings. Probably it
is the case that very few of your scientific men are endowed with
intelligences both sufficiently advanced, and sufficiently adaptable and
receptive of new ideas, to enable them to assimilate and make use of the
influences thus transmitted; but still we know that some must have
grasped the situation."
"Merna," I answered, "that is quite true; but, of course, I cannot say
whether it has been the result of Martian influences. Thirty years ago
one of our great observers saw and mapped many of the canal lines; and
years before that, others had seen them imperfectly, and drawn portions
of them on their maps. Our first and greatest exponent of the idea that
they were really canals was, however, Professor Lowell, an American
astronomer, whose fame has spread all over our world. He has not only
been a constant observer of Mars for many years, but has mapped out
your canal systems from observations made by himself and his colleagues.
He has also formulated a reasonable and, as it now appears, true
explanation of their object and purpose; as well as demonstrating their
existence to be a prime necessity for the well-being of your people.
"It is true he has met with much opposition; not only from those who
have but limited knowledge, and refuse to believe anything they cannot
see themselves, but from the older school of astronomers, who are not
very receptive of new ideas; and who are, perhaps, naturally reluctant
to admit the inadequacy or inaccuracy of their early theories. This is a
very common failing with experts of all kinds, and we have had many
instances of it in connection with astronomy all through our history;
but we have amongst us many intelligent persons who are open to
conviction, being unfettered in regard to particular theories. They are,
therefore, not only willing, but eager to examine the evidence which has
been collected, and to form their own opinions on the subject."
"I am very glad to hear you say so, sir," replied Merna; "and now I
would like to ask you whether, during the last thirty-five years or so,
there has not been an extraordinary advance in knowledge amongst your
people in connection with such sciences as electricity, telegraphy,
light and engineering, as well as in astronomy?
"I ask because our experts have been most earnestly endeavouring during
that time to transmit some of their knowledge on these subjects to your
scientific people on the earth, and we have some reason to believe that
their efforts have been, at least, partially successful."
I assured him that our advance in regard to these subjects had really
been phenomenal during the period he mentioned. Probably during no
previous period in the history of our world had so many useful,
important, and even amazing discoveries been made during such a short
space of time.
I gave particulars of the great discoveries and rapid developments in
connection with electricity, wireless telegraphy, the telephone,
Hertzian waves, X and N rays, spectroscopy, colour-photography, and
telectrography. I also mentioned the discovery of radium, helium, and
argon; the medical use of light and bacteriology; together with the
invention of the turbine engine, motor cars, flying machines; also
phonographs and other kinds of talking machines.
Merna expressed himself as very gratified at this information; and
remarked that our progress would be still more rapid in the future, as
it was quite evident that there were terrestrial intelligences which
were readily receptive, and capable of high development. He promised
that what I had told him should be made known in the proper quarters;
and added that the Martians would be encouraged to persevere in their
efforts to impart such knowledge as would aid in the general advancement
of science in our world.
He then asked me, "Whether, in connection with new discoveries, it had
been found that more than one person had developed the new ideas about
the same time?"
"Yes, Merna," I replied; "it has often been observed that similar
inventions have been made by several people at the same time: although
they have worked quite independently, and were totally unaware of what
was being done by each other."
"That," said Merna, "is a natural consequence of these influences; for
they are in the air, so to speak, and have only to be brought into
connection with the appropriate intellects to be assimilated and carried
I then asked him if he could explain how the influences acted; and he
replied that in most cases they formed a sort of mental picture, which
would be mentally seen and understood by a person sufficiently endowed
with the necessary knowledge; but if he were not so endowed, or not
receptive of new ideas, then he would learn nothing from the influences.
Thus a mental picture of some new and unknown piece of machinery would
mean nothing to an unmechanical mind, or even to a mechanical mind which
was not endowed also with the inventive faculty. In other cases only
thoughts in the abstract could be sent, and these were more likely to
remain unassimilated than the mental pictures, as a very high order of
intellect was required to receive such thoughts.
I then informed him that our greatest and most daring electrician,
Nicola Tesla, was firmly convinced that he had discovered planetary
disturbances of an electrical nature which had reached our world. This
occurred as far back as the year 1899; and, in the course of later
scientific investigations, he found that the disturbances could not have
come from the sun, the moon, or Venus. Further study has, he says, quite
satisfied him that they must have emanated from Mars.
I added that Tesla was at work perfecting an apparatus which he was
convinced would be the means of putting him into communication with
other planets, by means of a wireless transmitter. This, he states, will
produce vibrations of enormous power, and he has devised a means of
producing oscillations of the most tremendous intensity. He states that
he has actually passed a current round the earth which attained many
millions of horse-power, and feels assured that he has already succeeded
in producing electrical disturbances on Mars by the aid of this current.
"Those disturbances," he adds, "are much more powerful than anything
which could be obtained by means of light reflectors, no matter how
large such reflectors might be, or how wide an area they might be made
At the same time I pointed out that these are Tesla's own statements,
and not mere second-hand reports or newspaper inventions!
Merna said that this information was really very gratifying, and gave
him the greatest satisfaction; for it showed that the Martians'
endeavours to communicate with us would ultimately be successful,
because there was at least one man upon the earth capable of devising
the necessary apparatus for receiving and transmitting such
communications. He further remarked that it was quite true that
electrical disturbances had reached Mars from another planet, but added
that no effective communication was possible by means of light rays, as
the two planets were never so situated in regard to each other as to
render such a mode of signalling practicable.
I was just about to speak when Merna held up his hand to enjoin silence,
and stood as though he were listening attentively to some
After a minute or so he told us he had just received a mental
communication from Soranho, stating that he had despatched a messenger
to us with an urgent letter. Then he added, "We had better wait here
until the messenger arrives."
"So," I said, "your wireless telegraphy is evidently much in advance of
ours, for you seem to dispense with apparatus altogether!"
"Yes, sir," he replied; "you see this is one of the senses I told you we
Martians possessed; but some of our people who are somewhat deficient in
this sense still use the small pocket receivers and transmitters which
have long become obsolete amongst the generality of our population.
"I have already given you two illustrations of the truth of my
statement, that we are able to divine what is in each other's mind
without it being necessary to speak. Still, I wish you to understand
that we never allow this power to spoil conversation. You might,
perhaps, think that because we know what each was about to say, the
words would remain unsaid, and we would, therefore, be a rather taciturn
people. That is not so. The faculty is a very useful one to us on many
occasions; but, as I remarked, we never allow it to spoil conversation."
"That seems to me a very sensible and practical arrangement," remarked
"Well," replied Merna, "I hope, and I think, you will find us a very
sensible and practical nation."
At this moment an official came up to us, and after saluting, handed
Merna a packet. Having opened and read the communication it contained,
he turned to us and gave each a document which had been enclosed; at
the same time saying that it was a formal invitation for our attendance
at a banquet in the evening, for the purpose of meeting the Chief of the
Council and other high personages, and for social intercourse.
We all expressed our thanks, and, of course, accepted the invitation.
The official, having received the requisite reply from Merna, again
saluted, and then retired.
Next: We Visit The Canals And Discover Their Secret-martian Views Of Life And Death
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