For their honeymoon Rollo Lenox Smeaton Aubrey, Earl of Redgrave, and his bride, Lilla Zaidie, leave the earth on a visit to the moon and the principal planets, their sole companion being Andrew Murgatroyd, an old engineer who had ...
For their honeymoon Rollo Lenox Smeaton Aubrey, Earl of Redgrave,
and his bride, Lilla Zaidie, leave the earth on a visit to the moon
and the principal planets, their sole companion being Andrew
Murgatroyd, an old engineer who had superintended the building of the
Astronef, in which the journey is made. By means of the "R.Force," or
Anti-Gravitational Force, of the secret of which Lord Redgrave is the
sole possessor, they are able to navigate with precision and safety
the limitless ocean of space. Their adventures on the moon and on Mars
have been described in the first two stories of the series.
"How very different Venus looks now to what it does from the earth,"
said Zaidie as she took her eye away from the telescope, through which
she had been examining the enormous crescent, almost approaching to
what would be called upon earth a half-moon, which spanned the dark
vault of space ahead of the Astronef.
"I wonder what she'll be like. All the authorities are agreed that on
Venus, having her axis of revolution very much inclined to the plane
of her orbit, the seasons are so severe that for half the year its
temperate zone and its tropics have a summer about twice as hot as our
tropics and the other half they have a winter twice as cold as our
coldest. I'm afraid, after all, we shall find the Love-Star a world of
salamanders and seals; things that can live in a furnace and bask on
an iceberg; and when we get back home it will be our painful duty, as
the first explorers of the fields of space, to dispel another dearly-
cherished popular delusion."
"I'm not so very sure about that," said Lenox, glancing from the
rapidly growing crescent, which was still so far away, to the sweet
smiling face that was so near to his. "Don't you see something very
different there to what we saw either on the moon or Mars? Now just go
back to your telescope and let us take an observation."
"Well," said Zaidie, "as our trip is partly, at least, in the interest
of science, I will." and then, when she had got her own telescope into
focus again--for the distance between the Astronef and the new world
they were about to visit was rapidly lessening--she took a long look
through it, and said:
"Yes, I think I see what you mean. The outer edge of the crescent is
bright, but it gets greyer and dimmer towards the inside of the curve.
Of course Venus has an atmosphere. So had Mars; but this must be very
dense. There's a sort of halo all round it. Just fancy that splendid
thing being the little black spot we saw going across the face of the
Sun a few days ago! It makes one feel rather small, doesn't it?"
"That is one of the things which a woman says when she doesn't want to
be answered; but, apart from that, your ladyship was saying?"
"What a very unpleasant person you can be when you like! I was going
to say that on the moon we saw nothing but black and white, light and
darkness. There was no atmosphere, except in those awful places I
don't want to think about. Then, as we got near Mars, we saw a pinky
atmosphere, but not very dense; but this, you see, is a sort of pearl-
grey white shading from silver to black. But look--what are those tiny
bright spots? There are hundreds of them."
"Do you remember, as we were leaving the earth, how bright the
mountain ranges looked; how plainly we could see the Rockies and the
"Oh, yes, I see; they're mountains; thirty-seven miles high some of
them, they say; and the rest of the silver-grey will be clouds, I
suppose. Fancy living under clouds like those."
"Only another case of the adaptation of life to natural conditions, I
expect. When we get there, I daresay we shall find that these clouds
are just what make it possible for the inhabitants of Venus to stand
the extremes of heat and cold. Given elevations, three or four times
as high as the Himalayas, it would be quite possible for them to
choose their temperature by shifting their altitude.
"But I think it's about time to drop theory and see to the practice,"
he continued, getting up from his chair and going to the signal board
in the conning-tower. "Whatever the planet Venus may be like, we don't
want to charge it at the rate of sixty miles a second. That's about
the speed now, considering how fast she's travelling towards us."
"And considering that, whether it is a nice world or not, it's about
as big as the earth, and so we should get rather the worst of the
charge," laughed Zaidie, as she went back to her telescope.