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The Land of the Changing Sun
William N. Harben
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Johnston and Branasko looked down at the great ball of light below them in silent
wonder. Johnston was the first to speak. He pointed to the four massive cables which
supported the sun at each corner of the platform and extended upward till they were
enveloped in the darkness.
"They hold us up," he said, "where do they go to?"
"To the big trucks which run on the tracks near the roof of the cavern; the endless cables
are up there, too, but we can not see them with this glare about us."
"We can see nothing of Alpha from here," remarked Johnston disappointedly, "we can
see nothing beyond our circle of light."
"I should like to look down from this height at night," said the Alphian. "It would be a
"What is this?" Johnston went to one side of the platform and laid his hand on the spokes
of a polished metal wheel shaped like the pilot-wheel of a steamboat. Branasko hastened
"Don't touch it," he warned. "It looks as if it were to turn the electric connection off and
on. If the sun should go out, the consequences would be awful. The people of Alpha
would go mad with fear."
The American withdrew his hand, and he and Branasko walked back to the centre of the
platform. Johnston uttered an exclamation of surprise. "The light is changing."
And it was, for it was gradually fading into a purple that was delightfully soothing to the
eye after the painful brightness of a moment before.
"I understand," said the Alphian, "we are running very slow and are only now about to
approach the great wall, for purple is the color of the first morning hour."
"But how is the light changed?" asked Johnston curiously.
"By some shifting of glasses through which the rays shine, I presume," returned the
Alphian; "but the mechanism seems to be concealed in the walls of the globe."
Not a word was spoken for an hour. They had lain down on the platform near the iron
railing which encompassed it, and Branasko was dozing intermittently. Again the light
began to change gradually. This time it was gray. Johnston put out his hand to touch
Branasko, but the Alphian was awake. He sat up and nodded smiling. "Wait till the next
hour," he said; "it will be rose- color; that is the most beautiful."