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The Coming Race

Chapter 7
A room to myself was assigned to me in this vast edifice. It was prettily and fantastically
arranged, but without any of the splendour of metal-work or gems which was displayed
in the more public apartments. The walls were hung with a variegated matting made from
the stalks and fibers of plants, and the floor carpeted with the same.
The bed was without curtains, its supports of iron resting on balls of crystal; the
coverings, of a thin white substance resembling cotton. There were sundry shelves
containing books. A curtained recess communicated with an aviary filled with singing-
birds, of which I did not recognise one resembling those I have seen on earth, except a
beautiful species of dove, though this was distinguished from our doves by a tall crest of
bluish plumes. All these birds had been trained to sing in artful tunes, and greatly
exceeded the skill of our piping bullfinches, which can rarely achieve more than two
tunes, and cannot, I believe, sing those in concert. One might have supposed one's self at
an opera in listening to the voices in my aviary. There were duets and trios, and quartetts
and choruses, all arranged as in one piece of music. Did I want silence from the birds? I
had but to draw a curtain over the aviary, and their song hushed as they found themselves
left in the dark. Another opening formed a window, not glazed, but on touching a spring,
a shutter ascended from the floor, formed of some substance less transparent than glass,
but still sufficiently pellucid to allow a softened view of the scene without. To this
window was attached a balcony, or rather hanging garden, wherein grew many graceful
plants and brilliant flowers. The apartment and its appurtenances had thus a character, if
strange in detail, still familiar, as a whole, to modern notions of luxury, and would have
excited admiration if found attached to the apartments of an English duchess or a
fashionable French author. Before I arrived this was Zee's chamber; she had hospitably
assigned it to me.
Some hours after the waking up which is described in my last chapter, I was lying alone
on my couch trying to fix my thoughts on conjecture as to the nature and genus of the
people amongst whom I was thrown, when my host and his daughter Zee entered the
room. My host, still speaking my native language, inquired with much politeness,
whether it would be agreeable to me to converse, or if I preferred solitude. I replied, that I
should feel much honoured and obliged by the opportunity offered me to express my
gratitude for the hospitality and civilities I had received in a country to which I was a
stranger, and to learn enough of its customs and manners not to offend through ignorance.
As I spoke, I had of course risen from my couch: but Zee, much to my confusion, curtly
ordered me to lie down again, and there was something in her voice and eye, gentle as
both were, that compelled my obedience. She then seated herself unconcernedly at the
foot of my bed, while her father took his place on a divan a few feet distant.
"But what part of the world do you come from?" asked my host, "that we should appear
so strange to you and you to us? I have seen individual specimens of nearly all the races
differing from our own, except the primeval savages who dwell in the most desolate and