Across the Zodiac eBook

Percy Greg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 587 pages of information about Across the Zodiac.
requested me to mount the carriage with him, and drove for some distance, teaching me how to steer, and how, by pressing a spring, to stop or slacken the motion of the vehicle, also how to direct it over rough ground and up or down the steepest slope on which it was available.  When we returned, the Regent’s carriage was standing by the gate, and two others were waiting at a little distance in the rear.  The Regent, with a companion, was already seated, and as soon as we reached the gate, Eveena appeared.  She was enveloped from head to foot in a cloak of something like swans-down covering her whole figure, loose, like the ordinary outer garments of both sexes, and gathered in at the waist by a narrow zone of silver, with a sort of clasp of some bright green jewel; and a veil of white satin-looking material covered the whole head and face, and fell half-way to the waist.  Her gloved right hand was hidden by the sleeve of her cloak; that of the left arm was turned back, and the hand which she gave me as I handed her to the seat on my left was bare—­a usage both of convenience and courtesy.  At Esmo’s request, the Regent, who led the way, started at a moderate pace, not exceeding some ten miles an hour.  I observed that on the roofs of all the houses along the road the inhabitants had gathered to watch us; and as my companion was so completely veiled, I did not baulk their curiosity by drawing the canopy.  I presently noticed that the girl held something concealed in her right sleeve, and ventured to ask her what she had there.

“Pardon me,” she said; “if we had been less hurried, I meant to have asked your permission to bring my pet esve with me.”  Drawing back her sleeve, she showed a bird about the size of a carrier-pigeon, but with an even larger and stronger beak, white body, and wings and tail, like some of the plumage of the head and neck, tinted with gold and green.  Around its neck was a little string of silver, and suspended from this a small tablet with a pencil or style.  Since by her look and manner she seemed to expect an answer, I said—­

“I am very glad you have given me the opportunity of making acquaintance with another of those curiously tame and manageable animals which your people seem to train to such wonderful intelligence and obedience.  We have birds on Earth which will carry a letter from a strange place to their home, but only homewards.”

“These,” she answered, “will go wherever they are directed, if they have been there before and know the name of the place; and if this bird had been let loose after we had left, he would have found me, if not hidden by trees or other shelter, anywhere within a score of miles.”

“And have your people,” I asked, “many more such wonderfully intelligent and useful creatures tamed to your service, besides the ambau, the tyree, and these letter-carriers?”

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Across the Zodiac from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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