Across the Zodiac eBook

Percy Greg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 587 pages of information about Across the Zodiac.
this day in the interests of science, insisted, with equal inconsistency and equal skill, on the innumerable recorded and attested instances of some diabolical power possessed by certain supposed members of a detested and malignant sect.  A year ago the judges would probably have sided unanimously with the former.  But the feeling that animated the conspiracy, if it should be so called, against the Zinta, had penetrated all Martial society; and in order to destroy the votaries of religion, Science, in the persons of her most distinguished students, was this day ready to abjure her character, and forswear her most cherished tenets.  As has often happened in Mars, and may one day happen on Earth as the new ideas come into greater force, proven fact was deliberately set against logical impossibility; and for once—­what probably had not happened in Mars for ten thousand years—­proven fact and common sense carried the day against science and “universal experience;” but, unhappily, against the prisoner.  After retiring separately for about an hour, the Judges returned.  Their brief and very confused decisions were read by the Secretary.  The reasons were seldom intelligible, each contradicting himself and all his colleagues, and not one among the judgments having even the appearance of cohesion and consistency.  But, by six to one, they doomed the prisoner to the vivisection-table.  As he was carried forth his eyes met ours, and the perfect calm and steadiness of their glance astounded me not a little.

My natural thought prompted, of course, an appeal to the mercy of the Throne.  In every State a power of giving effect in the law’s despite to public policy, or of commanding that, in certain strange and unforeseen circumstances, common sense and practical justice shall override a sentence which no court bound by the letter of the law can withhold, must rest with the Sovereign.  But in Mars the prerogative of mercy, in the proper sense of the word—­judicial rather than political mercy—­is exercised less by the Prince himself than by a small council of judges advising him and pronouncing their decision in his name.  Even if we could have relied on the Campta with absolute confidence, there were many reasons against an appeal which would, in fact, have asked him to declare himself on our side.  While such a declaration might, in the existing state of public feeling, have caused revolt or riot, it would have put on their guard, perhaps driven to a premature attempt which he was not prepared to meet, the traitors whose scheme against his life the Prince felt confident that he should speedily detect and punish.

All these considerations were brought before our Council, whose debate was brief but not hurried or excited.  The supreme calm of Esmo’s demeanour communicated itself to all the eleven, in not one of whom could I recognise till they spoke my colleagues of our last Council.  The order went forth that a party should attend Esmo’s orders at a point about half a mile distant from the studio in which, for the benefit of a great medical school, my unhappy friend was to be put to torture indescribable.

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Across the Zodiac from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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