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Across the Zodiac by Percy Greg

Will Eveena still wish to share it


"Every

house like ours has from six to a dozen larger or lighter carriages. Of course they cost nothing save the original purchase. They last for half a lifetime, and are not costly at the outset. But I have news for you which, I venture to think, will be as little agreeable to you as to ourselves. Your journey must begin tomorrow, and this, therefore, is the only opportunity you will have for such an excursion as you propose."

"Then," I said, "will Eveena still wish to share it?"

Even her mother's face seemed to ask what in the world that could matter; but a movement of the daughter's veiled head reminded me that I was blundering; and pressing her little hand as she lay beside me, I took her compliance for granted.

The morning mist had given place to hot bright sunshine when we started. At first our road lay between enclosures like that which surrounded Esmo's dwelling.

Presently the lines were broken here and there by such fields as I had seen in descending from Asnyca; some filled with crops of human food, some with artificial pastures, in which Unicorns or other creatures were feeding. I saw also more than one field wherein the _carvee_ were weeding or gathering fruit, piling their burdens in either case as soon as their beaks were full into bags or baskets. Pointing out to Eveena the striking difference of colour between the cultivated fields

and gardens and the woods or natural meadows on the mountain sides, I learned from her that this distinction is everywhere perceptible in Mars. Natural objects, plants or animals, rocks and soil, are for the most part of dimmer, fainter, or darker tints than on Earth; probably owing to the much less intense light of the Sun; partly, perhaps, to that absorption of the blue rays by the atmosphere, which diminishes, I suppose, even that light which actually reaches the planet. But uncultivated ground, except on the mountains above the ordinary range of crops or pastures, scarcely exists in the belt of Equatorial continents; the turf itself, like the herbage or fruit shrubs in the fields, is artificial, consisting of plants developed through long ages into forms utterly unlike the native original by the skill and ingenuity of man. Even the great fruit trees have undergone material change, not only in the size, flavour, and appearance of the fruits themselves, which have been the immediate object of care, but, probably through some natural correlation between, the different organs, in the form and colour of the foliage, the arrangement of the branches, and the growth of the trunk, all of which are much more regular, and, so to speak, more perfect, than is the case either here or on Earth with those left to the control of Nature and locality, or the effects of the natural competition, which is in its way perhaps as keen among plants and animals as among men. Martialists have the same delight in bright colours as Orientals, with far greater taste in selection and combination; and the favourite hues not only of their flowers, tame birds, fishes, and quadrupeds, but of plants in whose cultivation utility has been the primary object, contrast signally, as I have said, with the dull tints of the undomesticated flora and fauna, of which comparatively scanty remnants were visible here and there in this rich country.


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