abolished infirmity of advancing years. The countenance
alone bore no marks of old age. It was full, unwrinkled,
firm in physical as in moral character; calm in the
unresisted power of intellect and will over the passions,
serene in a dignity too absolute and self-contained
for pride, but expressing a consciousness of command
over others as evident as the unconscious, effortless
command of self to which it owed its supreme and sublime
quietude. The lips were not set as with a habit
of reserve or self-restraint, but close and even as
in the repose to which restraint had never been necessary.
The features were large, clearly defined, and perfect
in shape, proportion, and outline. The brow was
massive and broad, but strangely smooth and even;
the head had no single marked development or deficiency
that could have enlightened a phrenologist, as the
face told no tale that a physiognomist could read.
The dark deep eyes were unescapable; while in presence
of the portrait you could not for a moment avoid or
forget their living, fixed, direct look into your own.
Even in the painted representation of that gaze, almost
too calm in its absolute mastery to be called searching
or scrutinising, yet seeming to look through the eyes
into the soul, there was an almost mesmeric influence;
as if, across the abyss of ten thousand years, the
Master could still control the wills and draw forth
the inner thoughts of the living, as he had dominated
the spirits of their remotest ancestors.
CHAPTER IX — MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.
Next morning Esmo asked me to accompany him on a visit
to the seaport I have mentioned. In the course
of this journey I had opportunities of learning many
things respecting the social and practical conditions
of human life and industry on Mars that had hitherto
been unknown to me, and to appreciate the enormous
advance in material civilisation which has accompanied
what seems to me, as it would probably seem to any
other Earth-dweller, a terrible moral degeneration.
Most of these things I learned partly from my own
observation, partly from the explanations of my companion;
some exclusively from what he told me. We passed
a house in process of building, and here I learned
the manner in which the wonders of domestic architecture,
which had so surprised me by their perfection and
beauty, are accomplished. The material employed
in all buildings is originally liquid, or rather viscous.
In the first place, the foundation is excavated to
a depth of two or three feet, the ground beaten hard,
and the liquid concrete poured into the level tank
thus formed. When this has hardened sufficiently
to admit of their erection, thin frames of metal are
erected, enclosing the spaces to be occupied by the
several outer and interior walls.