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The Land of the Changing Sun

Chapter 17
Bernardino turned to look after her father as he was leaving the room.
"He is going to the observatory," she said to Thorndyke and Johnston. "Let us go also."
And they followed the king into the room with the glass roof and walls covered with
mirrors which he had shown the strangers several days before. A white-headed old man
stood at the stand, his fingers trembling over the half circle of electric buttons. In a mirror
before him he was studying the reflection of a town of perhaps a hundred houses. The
streets were filled with excited citizens, and a squad of protectors stood ready for action
near a row of flying-machines.
"Ornethelo," said the king, and at the sound of his voice the old man turned and bowed
humbly.
"All right," went on the king, "I will take your place a moment."
He went to the stand and touched a button. Instantly the scene changed; fields, forests,
streams and hills ran by in a murky blur, and then a larger town flashed on the mirror.
Here the same stir and alertness characterized the scene. The gaze of every inhabitant was
fixed on the threatening horizon. Rapidly the scenes shifted at the king's will, till a
hundred cities, towns and villages had been reviewed.
"Enough! They are all ready--all faithful," groaned the king, "and, Ornethelo, they may
all have to perish to-day, and all for our ambition. Poor mortals!"
Ornethelo's face was half submerged in the beard on his breast, but he looked up
suddenly and spoke:
"For their sakes, then, we ought not to delay; there may yet be hope."
"You are right, Ornethelo." There was a ring of hope in the voice of the king. "Quick!
show me my capitol, that I may see if all the protectors are ready."
Ornethelo touched another button, and, as if seen from a great height, the fair and
wondrous city dawned before the eyes of the spectators. In every street policemen and
protectors and flying- machines stood in orderly readiness. The housetops were colored
with the variegated costumes of men, women and children. Over all lay the wondrous
sunlight, through the green splendor of which the flakes of soot were falling like black
snow.
The king touched the old man's arm. "I must see beyond the walls; are the connections
made?"
"Ready, sir."
 
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