Bending over the instrument he held, he placed his mouth close to the top of it, and immediately the humming sounds, which I had noticed before, emanated from the wires of my apparatus. The thought flashed through my mind that the Martian held in this instrument a means of communicating sound. If so, what were the words—what language? The possibility of what I heard being words, made me strain every nerve to catch the slightest resemblance to such sounds, but alas, with no success. That they were intended to convey a message, I became fully convinced, but I could not rest in the belief that this jumble of sounds was the Martian language. If the Martians themselves resembled, in so striking a degree, the inhabitants of Earth, I argued, then it was in the nature of things to expect a language that, in some way, corresponded to one of our languages. The fault lay in my instrument, I was sure of that, and in the keen disappointment of my failure to receive his message and the excitement of the moment, I gave utterance to an exclamation of despair. Immediately a smile overspread the Martian’s countenance, and, to my great astonishment, he put down the instrument and clapped his hands by way of showing his approval.
Before I could recover from my surprise at this new evidence of Martian familiarity with the customs of Earth, the light suddenly grew dim and in a few seconds had disappeared completely, leaving the instrument plunged in darkness. Mars had risen above the frame of the skylight, and I was no longer in contact with the light-waves. I listened intently, thinking that if the sound-waves were of the nature of the electrical-waves we employ in the wireless system, I would still be in touch with my newly found friend, but I heard no further sound from the instrument, thus proving that these waves also were projected by the mysterious agent known only to the Martians.
I had so much to occupy my mind, with what I had just witnessed, and so many thoughts rushed in upon me regarding the perfecting of my instrument so that it might properly respond to the sound-waves, that I did not experience the disappointment I had felt before at the short duration of our contact with each other. I was glad of the opportunity to think; I felt that it was necessary to do so before further action, if I ever hoped to attain the knowledge of Mars and its inhabitants that my remarkable discovery had placed within my reach. I determined that on the morrow, if I did not meet with better results in the sound vibrations, I would try to communicate with the Martian by writing some simple sentence in a bold hand, and in as many languages as I could. This I would expose in front of the instrument, but I placed little hope in the success of the scheme, for it was not possible that the Martian language would be identical with any of ours.
THE VOICE FROM ANOTHER WORLD