Now that I was once again in my laboratory with the humdrum life of a matter-of-fact world surging about me, evincing itself by the continual roar of traffic which reached me through the open window, my remarkable adventure of the night before seemed like a strange dream. As there was no tangible proof that I had actually been on Mars, I might have been led to the conclusion that I had chloroformed myself into unconsciousness only, and had passed from this state into a deep sleep, in which I had dreamed my remarkable experiences. But the clearness and consistency of every detail were amply sufficient to convince me of the genuineness of my experiences on Mars, and that the characters, so vividly portrayed in my mind, lived in flesh and blood on a world millions of miles away. Much more convincing than this, however, was the moral obligation that I felt incumbent upon me—a duty I owed to another. No dream could have left me with this keen sense of responsibility.
Alas, I knew only too well that I loved, with an impossible love, a beautiful being of another planet, and that my duty lay in the renunciation of this love to Almos, its rightful possessor.
Thus my discovery had not brought me the joy of triumph. The proud moments in an inventor’s career when he holds up to the world the fruit of his ingenuity and study could not be mine. Indeed, the thought of the excitement that the news of such easy communication with Mars would cause, if I demonstrated its truth before reputable scientists, made me determined to guard the secret of my discovery the more jealously. Hundreds of instruments similar to mine would be made, and it would soon become known to all the inhabitants of Mars that they could talk to the people of Earth, resulting in constant communication from all parts of both planets. Such an innovation would soon be a regular pastime of the rich. It would then be impossible for me to visit Mars again, as the crossing of the currents of super-radium would add a grave danger to such an undertaking.
The possibility of my secret becoming known through an accident (someone breaking into my room or overhearing me talk with Almos) now occurred to me, and, in the fear of my being separated from Zarlah forever, I determined upon another visit to Mars that evening.
I had planned to tell Almos at once of my thoughtless confession of love to Zarlah, but in an effort to justify my great desire to see her again, I now saw several important reasons for postponing this. I had given my promise to Zarlah to be with her the following evening, and it seemed only honorable for me first to fulfil my promise to her. Moreover, under the circumstances, it might be embarrassing for Almos to meet her upon such short notice. When a man takes a step of this kind, he usually has spent some time in consideration beforehand, how much more necessary, then, is time for consideration when this step has been taken for him. I therefore decided to keep my promise to Zarlah and to endeavor to visit Mars again during the next wave contact.