The Land of the Changing Sun
In a few minutes the captain returned and found his prisoners ready to go with him.
Thorndyke looked exceedingly handsome in his glossy tights, close-fitting sack-coat,
tinsel belt and low shoes with buckles of gold. The natural color had come back into his
cheeks, and he was exhilarated over the prospect of further adventure.
It was not so, however, with poor Johnston; his spirits had been so dampened by the
physician's words that he could not rally from his despondency. His suit fitted his figure
as well as that of the Englishman, but he could not wear it with the same hopeful grace.
"Cheer up!" whispered Thorndyke, as they followed the captain through a long corridor,
"if we are on our way to the stake or block we are at least going dressed like gentlemen."
Outside they found the streets lined with spectators eagerly waiting to see them pass. The
men all had suits like those which had been given the captives, and the women wore
flowing gowns like those of ancient Greece.
"These are the common people," whispered Thorndyke to Johnston, "but did you ever
dream of such perfect features and physiques? Every face is full of merriment and good
cheer. I am curious to see the royalty."
Johnston made no reply, for Captain Tradmos turned suddenly and faced them.
"Stand here till I return," he said, and he went back into the house.
"Where in the deuce do you think we are?" pursued Thorndyke with a grim smile.
"Haven't the slightest idea," sighed Johnston, and he shuddered as he looked down the
long white street with its borders of human faces.
Thorndyke was observant.
"There is not a breath of air stirring," he said; "and yet the atmosphere is like impalpable
delicacies to a hungry man's stomach.Look at that big tree, not a leaf is moving, and yet
every breath I draw is as fresh as if it came from a mountain- top. Did you ever see such
flowers as those? Look at that ocean of orchids."
"They think we are a regular monkey-show," grumbled the American. "Look how the
crowd is gaping and shoving and fighting for places to see us."
"It's your legs they want to behold, old fellow. Do you know I never knew you had such
knotty knee-joints; did you ever have rheumatism? I wish I had 'em; they wouldn't put me
to death--they would make me the chief attraction in the royal museum." Thorndyke
concluded his jest with a laugh, but the face of his friend did not brighten.