The strange shadow.
So thrilling were my experiences during that period, so overcrowded with feverish action and strong emotions was each wonderful moment, and so entirely changed are the conditions of life as I now find it, that it is with considerable difficulty that I recall in detail all that happened prior to my remarkable discovery which opened communication between Earth and Mars. One says “discovery” advisedly, but let it not be imagined that communication with the planet Mars was established as a result of any careful and systematic research, or that I possessed a subtle genius for astronomical science that was destined to introduce into society what must eventually revolutionize it. Nothing could be further from the facts. Into the daily grind of my absolutely uneventful career, burst the almost terrifying revelations with a suddenness that stunned me, while I was engaged in experiments of an entirely extraneous nature. Albeit one wonders that the Martian rays, which have swept our planet with their searching gaze for so many centuries, were not discovered long ago. But this is anticipating my story.
I had reached the age of thirty, when, in the Spring of 19—, I sailed out of New York harbor on board La Provence, en route for Paris. It was not so much my purpose to seek pleasure as the determination to turn my eight years of experience in the United States to some avenue of profitable livelihood, that decided me to make the journey, although I looked forward with no small degree of pleasant anticipation to meeting some of my fellow students in the Academie des Sciences in Paris, where I had received five years of excellent training.
My trip across and my subsequent arrival in Paris were without any events of particular interest, and one bright morning in the early summer I found myself comfortably lodged in the house where I had previously boarded while a student. Connected with my rooms, which were at the top of the house, was one of considerable size that I had formerly used as a laboratory, and this I now set about fitting up to serve the same purpose. The daylight found its way into the room through a skylight, and though admirably suited for an artist’s studio, it answered my purpose equally as well.
I had collected many new instruments and appliances by dint of days spent in shopping, and was anxious to begin work in earnest, when one evening, as I glanced through the columns of a newspaper, my attention was arrested by an article of particular interest. This set forth the great and increasing demand for a substitute for glass, one which would answer the purpose in every respect, and at the same time be indestructible and a good conductor of sound. The article concluded with an enumeration of the many uses for which such a substitute would be invaluable, hinting at the enormous financial possibilities which would be open to the inventor. The more I considered the matter, the more desirous I became to test several theories which forthwith presented themselves to my mind, and the next morning found me determined to begin my experiments at once. In theory, I saw the solution of the problem in artificially producing increased atomic motion, and with that object in view I went to work.