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The Land of the Changing Sun
William N. Harben
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"Rise!" commanded the king, in a deep, well-modulated voice, and when they had arisen
he inspected them critically, his eyes lingering on Thorndyke.
"You look as if you take life easily; you have a jovial countenance," he said cordially.
Thorndyke returned his smile and at once felt at ease.
"There is no use in taking it any other way," he said; "it doesn't amount to much at best."
"You are wrong," returned the king, playing with the jewels on his robe, "that is because
you have been reared as you have--in your unsystematic world. Here we make life a
serious study. It is our object to assist nature in all things. The efforts of your people
amount to nothing because they are not carried far enough. Your scientists are dreaming
idiots. They are continually groping after the ideal and doing nothing with the positive. It
was for us to carry out everything to perfection. Show me where we can make a single
improvement and you shall become a prince."
"If my life depended on that, my head would be off this instant," was the quick-witted
reply of the Englishman.
This so pleased the king that he laughed till he shook. "Well said," he smiled; "so you
like our country?"
"Absolutely charmed; my friend (Thorndyke was determined to bring his companion into
favor, if possible) and I have been in raptures ever since we rose this morning."
A flush of pleasure crossed the face of the king. "You have not seen half of our wonders
yet. I confess that I am pleased with you, sir. The majority of people who are brought
here are so frightened that they grow morbid and desirous to return to their own countries
as soon as they learn that such a thing is out of the question."
Thorndyke's stout heart suffered a sudden pang at the words, but he did not change
countenance in the slightest, for the king was closely watching the effect of his
"Of course," went on the ruler, gratified by the indifference of the Englishman, "of
course, it could not be done. No one, outside of a few of the royal family and our trusted
agents, has ever left us."
"I can't see how any one could be so unappreciative as to want to go," answered
Thorndyke, with a coolness that surprised even Johnston. "I have travelled in all countries
under the sun--the sun I was born under--and got so bored with them that my friend and