We Witness Some Wonderful Aerial Evolutions And Listen To Marvellous Music
From: To Mars Via The Moon
Wherever we went we found new subjects for wonder and admiration, and
fresh proofs of the high state of civilisation and development attained
by the Martians. We had seen many evidences of their genius in
engineering and mechanical undertakings, but we found that they excelled
in every art and science, and their achievements made terrestrial
accomplishments appear poor and even paltry by comparison. Whether we
examined their sculpture, paintings, pictures, or photographs-which
latter they take direct and at one operation, with all the natural
tints-or whether we listened to music, our verdict was perforce the
same-"We had not previously known anything to equal it."
We have all become fairly accustomed to seeing numerous air-ships moving
in all directions across the sky in the daytime, but it still seems
strange to us to see the lights of the air-ships flitting about the
I mentioned this to Merna, and he remarked that no doubt it did seem
rather strange to us, adding that my mention of air-ships was singularly
apropos of what was then in his mind, for he was just about to inform us
that an interesting aerial display had been arranged and was to take
place that evening, with the view of affording us some idea of Martian
We all expressed our thanks, and our appreciation of the kindness we
were receiving from the Martian nation; and I ventured to suggest that
probably we were indebted to him for a considerable proportion of it.
He answered that it was true he had taken some share in this affair and
in a few of the arrangements for the functions we had already attended,
but that many others had done the same, for it was natural to the
Martians to do all in their power when any help was needed. As we were
strangers from another world they all vied with each other in making
suggestions and arrangements which would afford us pleasure, or help to
enable us to see all that was possible in their world.
We were fully aware that this was the case, for we were received with
kindness and welcome wherever we went.
Merna's affection for me seemed unbounded, and his love was shown in
every action. Yet, like all the other Martians, he was never obtrusively
demonstrative, everything being done in a quiet and natural manner. When
on the earth his disposition had been very pleasing, but now his Martian
nature seemed to have endowed him with a capacity for loving far
transcending that of his human nature.
He was the same towards John, and we often spoke about it in Merna's
absence, whilst M'Allister had become as much attached to him as we
Just before sunset Merna rejoined us, and we passed out of the city into
the open country to a spot not far from the place where we had landed
from the Areonal. Here we found a large concourse of people assembled,
and their numbers were being added to by fresh arrivals every minute. On
looking upwards we saw air-ships speeding towards us from every quarter.
Some brought passengers and landed them, but it was evident that most of
the air-ships were about to take part in the display, as they remained
up in the air instead of coming down to the ground.
We met many Martians whom we knew, and were introduced to others, so the
time passed quickly in interesting conversation.
As soon as darkness fell Merna informed us that the display was about to
commence, adding that he had purposely refrained from giving us any
inkling of its nature, as he thought the unexpected would afford us
We were gazing upwards at the vast assemblage of air-ships, which were
lit up by the ordinary lamps used when travelling at night, when
suddenly the whole sky became brilliant with the glow of countless
thousands of coloured lights, and the air-ships began to move into their
Every ship-and there was a very large number of them-was covered all
over with electric lamps. Some of the ships had all red lights, others
all blue, others yellow, and so on through the whole range of tints
known to us, besides many tints which we had never seen before.
The evolutions began with the formation of simple geometrical designs,
starting with a complete circle of immense diameter. Then, inside this
circle of many-coloured lights other ships took up their position, and,
before we were prepared for anything, a triangle of lights had been
formed. It was clear that even in their amusements the Martians were
scientific; for here outlined in glowing colours was the familiar
geometrical figure of an equilateral triangle inscribed within a circle,
perfectly worked out on a most gigantic scale, and very pretty it was.
Quickly, another triangle was formed across the first one, the result
being a six-pointed star; and so on with several other more elaborate
geometrical figures. The rapidity and certainty with which these
air-ships took up the requisite positions and showed their coloured
lights in the appropriate places was marvellous to see.
After about a dozen geometrical figures had been formed there ensued a
rapid and bewildering movement of the ships towards the southern vault
of the sky. Coloured lights flashed and whirled about in what, for a few
minutes, seemed chaotic confusion, then suddenly the chaos was
transformed into order. The vessels formed up in long rows one below the
other, each row having one distinctive colour: a little movement of the
ships from the centre to each end, in a downward direction, and the
straight rows were transformed into complete semicircles concentric with
each other, their bases seeming to reach the ground. Then they closed
together, and lo! right across the sky shone a perfect representation of
a rainbow (an extremely rare phenomenon upon Mars) glowing in brilliant
light, with every tint and nuance accurate, and a thousand times
brighter than any rainbow we had ever seen. It was magnificent!
Further rapid movements followed: the semicircles were broken up; the
large vessels now being arranged in a long straight line across the sky,
with the smaller vessels in another line just below and in front of
them. The electric lamps were then instantaneously extinguished, and all
was darkness. But only for a moment; then from the top of every vessel
numerous immense pillars of coloured lights shot upwards into the sky.
We gazed at this in some perplexity, wondering what it all meant, as the
design gradually developed to its completion. Then John touched my arm,
excitedly exclaiming, "Look, Professor; it is the spectrum of the sun!"
Yes, that it was, and never had we gazed upon such an immense and
glorious spectrum. We pointed out to each other the lines of hydrogen,
sodium, strontium, and many others, all of which were truly depicted,
both in colour and position. These lines were formed by the lights of
the smaller vessels shown against the background of the lights on the
large vessels, and we noticed that all the Martians around us quickly
recognised what the lights represented.
Next we had a representation of the spectrum of Sirius, then that of
Aldebaran, and after that a spectrum which we were unable to identify.
Merna explained that it was the spectrum of their south polar star. A
few others were shown, then the line arrangement of the ships was again
broken up, the search-lights extinguished, and the coloured lamps once
more shone out.
Many of the ships now rushed across the sky over our heads in all
directions, and, after a few evolutions, the whole were seen arranged so
as to form four immense concentric circles, with a considerable space
between each ship.
The ships in the two inner circles then began to move slowly, and
passed in two wavy lines alternately in front of one ship and behind the
next ship in the outer circles, the serpentine movement gradually
becoming more and more rapid; and most wonderful changes of colour were
produced by the passage of the vessels past those lighted with lamps of
another colour. Swifter and swifter became the speed until it seemed
utterly impossible that these intricate movements could go on without
resulting in a series of collisions and disasters. Yet, with all this
bewildering whirling, twisting, and intertwining, the ships were guided
on their courses with consummate skill and with an unerring accuracy
which was marvellous to behold.
Another shake of the aerial kaleidoscope and the vessels were seen drawn
up in three parallel lines on the east and three on the west. Then the
search-lights again flashed out, filling the whole intermediate area of
the sky with beams of brilliant coloured light, which were caused to
oscillate sideways and overlap, producing a most gorgeous intermingling
of glowing colours. The Martians certainly had a complete understanding
of all the peculiarities connected with mixtures of coloured lights.
Up to this time silence had reigned, for no sound came to us from this
vast aerial fleet; but now there burst forth from both ranks of vessels
strains of music of such ravishing sweetness that I and my two
colleagues were quite overwhelmed. It seemed as though our mortal bodies
were completely etherealised by the thrilling melodies which floated
down to us from the upper air.
This was not all. When on the earth we had read of attempts to connect
musical tones and chords with the chromatic scale of colour, it being
suggested that each musical sound had its own distinctive
tone-colouring. Now we saw it practically demonstrated, for each chord
of music was accompanied by changes in the colours of the search-light
beams; and on comparing notes afterwards John and I found ourselves
agreeing that the colours shown appeared exactly to interpret what our
inner consciousness seemed to evolve, but which we could not have
expressed in words. It was like a scene of enchantment as we watched
those immense bands of glowing colours changing so rapidly and
synchronising with the chords of music. Merna informed us that the
lights of each vessel were electrically controlled from the keyboard of
one of the musical instruments on the ship.
This was followed by a piece resembling a grand chorale: then an
intricate fugue was performed, the several movements being taken up in
succession by the ranks on each side alternately, and apparently flung
to and fro from one side to the other of that vast area in magnificent
sequences and variations until it seemed that our human nature was so
uplifted, and we were so filled with ecstasy, that we could bear no
Many of the instruments were quite different from anything we had known
upon the earth, and when some of these were unaccompanied the music
sounded exactly like a grand choir of Martians singing in the heavens.
It really seemed to us quite impossible that this concord of sweet
sounds could be instrumental music, so perfect was the vocal effect.
Several other pieces were played, each having its own distinctive
character; then, after a short interval, the search-lights were
suddenly flashed on to the city of Sirapion; the beautiful buildings
with their domes, towers, and minarets looking exquisitely ethereal as
they were bathed in the beams of the glowing and ever-changing prismatic
light. The beams were next directed downwards upon the assembly, and we
gained a truer appreciation of the immense numbers that were gathered
After this short interlude we were entranced by the opening bars of a
very grand and majestic composition. As the first strains reached us I
noticed that all the Martians who were seated at once rose erect; every
Martian bared his head, raised his right hand, and, with an expression
of rapt intensity and reverence, gazed towards the heavens. I and my
companions immediately adopted a similar attitude, for Merna explained
that this piece was the Martian Hymn of Praise to the Great Ruler of the
Universe; and that its performance was regarded as one of their most
solemn acts of public worship.
The grandeur and majesty of this music, its melodious themes and
thrilling harmonies, are utterly beyond my powers of description; the
air and sky seemed filled and pulsating with prayer and praise, then
resounding with grand crescendoes of triumphant shouts; each succeeding
movement of the music carrying it higher and ever higher in the scale,
until at last it seemed to soar and pierce the infinite, the final
cadences dying away in melodious strains of celestial beauty and
Finally the air-ships all circled round the sky, then took their
departure-darting off in all directions-the sound of their sweet music
becoming fainter and fainter in the distance until at last all was
solemn silence; then the great assembly slowly and quietly dispersed.
For some minutes none of us spoke, for each was in deep thought, so
impressive and exalting had been the effect of that wonderful and
majestic hymn. When at length Merna turned to us and asked if we were
pleased with what we had seen and heard, we found it very difficult to
give adequate expression to our feelings.
Then M'Allister said, "Mon, it was beautiful, most beautiful! and I
never felt so nigh to heaven as I have this night!"
I remarked to John that "I had never expected to hear any music that
would equal, much more excel, the incomparable 'Hallelujah Chorus' in
Handel's 'Messiah.' It had always seemed to me impossible that any music
could ever be composed which would even approach it in majesty and
power; but what we had heard that night certainly surpassed it."
On looking at my watch I found that the musical portion of this feast of
tone and colour had occupied nearly three hours; yet, as I remarked, it
had seemed to me only a few minutes!
"Yes," John replied, "to me it has been an experience like that of the
monk Felix in Longfellow's 'Golden Legend.' The monk went out into the
woods one day, where he saw a snow-white bird, and listened to its sweet
singing until the sound of the convent bell warned him that it was time
to return. When he reached the convent he was amazed to find the faces
of the monks were all strange to him; he knew no one, and no one knew
him, or had ever even heard of him. At last one very old monk, who had
been there over a hundred years, said he remembered seeing a monk Felix
when he first entered the convent. The records were searched, and it was
found that Brother Felix had left the convent a hundred years before,
and as he had never returned he had been entered in the list of the
dead. So then
'They knew, at last,
That such had been the power
Of that celestial and immortal song,
A hundred years had passed,
And had not seemed so long
As a single hour.'
"That has really been something like my own experience to-night,"
continued John; "for I have scarcely been conscious of the passage of
time, and hours have seemed only minutes! I trust, Merna, that you will
convey to your friends our most grateful thanks for all the pleasure we
have derived from this magnificent display of Martian attainments."
M'Allister and I joined in this request, and Merna promised to comply
with our wishes. He seemed very pleased at our appreciation; and he told
John that his quotation had recalled to his memory the beautiful poem by
Longfellow, which had been a favourite with him during his earthly
school-days, but had lain entirely dormant in his mind until now.
We all agreed that, however long we might live, the memory of that
evening's events-the magnificent display of aerial skill, the glorious
harmonies of colour, and, above all, the majestic and incomparable
music-could never be effaced from our minds. We wondered whether aerial
flight would ever be brought so completely under control as to permit of
a similar display in the skies of our own world.
Merna replied that he was sure it would be quite possible some day, but
it must be remembered that what we had been witnessing was the result of
centuries of Martian experience in aerial navigation.
Merna then gave us an account of the progress of Martian discovery in
regard to aeronautics, from which we gathered that the earlier
experiences of the Martians had been somewhat similar to those of our
own people. They began with bags of various shapes inflated with gas
lighter than air, similar to our balloons, then experimented with
aeroplanes of various designs, also bird-like wings, on a very large
scale, actuated by electric and other motors. As time went on, however,
their atmosphere became thinner and thinner, until at last all such
forms of apparatus became nearly, if not quite, useless as a means of
After this they made use of numerous vertical screws of a spiral form,
which were caused to revolve with extreme rapidity by the aid of
electrical machinery; and a few of the vessels thus equipped are still
in use. But the discovery of natural forces emanating from the sun and
from their own planet soon led to the devising of means for utilising
this natural power, and this has practically superseded everything else.
Now all their air-ships and many of their machines are actuated by this
power, and are under the most perfect control. Air-ships are used for
all purposes of passenger traffic and freight carrying. So are vessels
on the canals and motor vehicles on the roads; and railways are,
Next: A Farewell Banquet And A Painful Parting
Previous: Many Things Seen Upon Mars-i Receive Some News