The Land of the Changing Sun
As Thorndyke watched the flying machine that was bearing his friend away a genuine
feeling of pity went over him. Poor Johnston! He had been haunted all day with the belief
that he was to meet with some misfortune from which Thorndyke was to be spared, and
Thorndyke had ridiculed his fears. When the air-ship had become a mere speck in the
sky, the Englishman turned back into the palace and strolled about in the vast crowd.
A handsome young man in uniform approached and touched his hat:
"Are you the comrade of the fellow they are just sending away?" he asked.
"Yes. Where are they taking him?"
"To the 'Barrens,' of course; where do you suppose they would take such a man? He
couldn't pass his examination. You are not a great physical success yourself, but they say
you pleased the king with your tongue."
"To the Barrens," repeated Thorndyke, too much concerned over the fate of his comrade
to notice the speaker's tone of contempt; "what are they, where are they?"
The Alphian officer changed countenance, as he looked him over with widening eyes.
"Your accent is strange; are you from the other world?"
"I suppose so,--this is a new one to me at any rate."
"The world of endless oceans?"
"And the unchanging sun--forever white and ----?"
"Yes; but where the devil is the Barrens?"
"Behind the sun, beyond the great endless wall."
"Do they intend to put him to death?"
"No, that would be--what do you call it? murder; they will simply leave him there to die
of his own accord. And the king is right. I never saw such a weakling. He would taint our
whole race with his presence."
Without a word Thorndyke abruptly turned from the officer and hastened toward the
apartment of the king. He would demand the return of poor Johnston or kill the king if his