Making the few necessary preparations about my room for the night, I secured the door with lock and bolt, and, drawing my couch before the instrument, poured out a glass of wine and lit a cigar, hoping thus to steady my nerves.
The day had been warm and close, and a thunderstorm of unusual violence made the night a wild one. Vivid flashes of lightning that seemed to vie with each other in intensity, darted from the heavens, accompanied by deafening crashes of thunder that shook the building to its foundations, while the shrieking of the wind, as though it were rushing through the rigging of a ship at sea, added to the noise of the tempest.
Within a few moments the glow on my instrument would be the signal for my departure, and, as I prepared the cone of chloroform, I could not suppress a shudder at the thought of my spirit going out into the fury of such a storm. It seemed as if Death, in the fear of being driven from Earth and forever despoiled of his cruel victories, had turned loose the elements in his fury, and waited without to wreak vengeance on my audacious spirit as it sped through space.
An instant an intensely white glare on the surface of wires at this moment gave evidence of the super-radium current. It was the signal for my departure, and, with a brief but earnest prayer, I seized the cone, and, taking my position on the couch, inhaled the fumes of chloroform.
* * * * *
It was with a feeling of thankfulness that, upon opening my eyes, I found myself in the virator. The storm, which I had feared might prove disastrous, had been passed through safely, and now reigned the wonderful quiet of Mars. The strange uneasiness, which I had experienced upon my departure from Earth, was forgotten in the anticipation of the great joy before me, or I would have noticed that the usual calm, ever characteristic of Almos, was lacking.
It was already past the hour of my appointment with Zarlah, and, eager to be with her, I hastily made the necessary preparations for my return to Earth. Although these consisted merely of changing the current so that it would flow from the virator to Earth, and adjusting the clockwork for the hour of departure, I had decided upon the importance of doing this beforehand, as any mistake made in the haste of departure would prove fatal to either Almos or myself.
These preparations attended to, I now made my way to the balcony. I had relied upon Almos’ knowledge to guide me to Zarlah, and, as I reached the open air, I at once felt his judgment assert itself. Two aerenoids were moored to the balcony, a large high-speed one of the submarine-boat type and a small open one. Into the latter I stepped, and, with a perfect knowledge of its operation, glided out upon the cool night air.
Gently rising to about three hundred feet, I lay suspended between the fairyland stretched beneath me and the brilliantly starred heavens. I was perfectly aware of the direction in which I was to go, but for a few moments I lay thus suspended, enjoying as could only an inhabitant of Earth, the strangeness and marvel of it all.