Strange to say, as I stood in that other world, there surged through my alien mind some lines of Clinton Scollard’s, which I had once learned, little dreaming of their significance:
“Lo, it has come, the
When thou and I, beloved one, must part;
When heart be sundered from caressing heart,
And ungloomed skies be turned to dreary gray.”
A silence fell upon us, both dreading to put into words the thoughts we knew must be spoken. Then, as our hearts beat audibly in the sacred stillness of night that had fallen about us, Zarlah murmured, clinging to me in despair, “Oh, Harold, my love, how can we bear the agony of being parted!”
“I would give my life to remain with you, dearest!” I answered, pressing her passionately to me, but in a more soothing tone I added,
“We must be brave, love, it is but for a day—to-morrow I shall return, but before my departure from Earth I will speak with Almos, and tell him that I wish to abandon my body forever and to abide in spirit on Mars. In a virator constructed with two upper chambers, my spirit could be retained indefinitely, and I would then see you daily through the medium of Almos. To-morrow, dearest, I shall return to you with good news.”
“Ah! Harold, you do not see the impossibility of such a thing—you cannot behold it through a woman’s eyes. No, no! I can never see Almos again! I gave my love to you through his medium, and to see him when you were absent would be greater agony than I could bear. I must go with you, Harold, to the world in which you live, where I can have you always.”
With words of love and assurance I tried to comfort the brave little heart that beat so loyally for me, and, fearing to leave her in this unhappy condition, I lingered until barely time remained in which to reach the observatory before Paris would pass out of wave contact. Explaining this to Zarlah, we hurried to the villa, and, as we ascended the steps to the balcony, I beheld a large high-speed aerenoid resting a short distance from mine. This, Zarlah begged me to take, explaining that by rising a few hundred feet above the elevation of small aerenoids, I could safely exceed the customary speed of local traffic. She explained that her brother had just returned in it from the north, where he had spent the day in the enjoyment of winter pastimes.
My heart was too full of the sorrow of parting to be aroused to enthusiasm at even such a wonder as this, and, realizing that I would be unaccustomed to an aerenoid that was strange to Almos, I decided to trust to the smaller one reaching the observatory in time. But not a moment was to be lost, and, begging Zarlah to be courageous until my return the following evening, I pressed her to my heart in a last fond embrace.
Oh! the agony of that moment, as I felt the slender form in my arms convulsed with sobs, while I, struggling frantically with the emotions that tore my heart, whispered words of passionate love; and as at last I rose in the night air, condemned by Fate to journey millions of miles from her I adored, my soul cried out in its anguish: