A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version
handsome brass-mounted bellows, which proved to be articulating, for, as he pressed, it
called lustily, "Come in!" The door opened, and in walked Secretary of State Stillman,
Secretary of the Navy Deepwaters, who was himself an old sailor, Dr. Cortlandt, Ayrault.
Vice-President Dumby, of the T. A. S. Co., and two of the company's directors.
"Good-morning," said Bearwarden, as he shook hands with his visitors. "Charmed to see
"That's a great invention," said Secretary Stillman, examining the bellows. "We must get
Congress to make an appropriation for its introduction in the department buildings in
Washington. You have no idea how it dries my throat to be all the time shouting, 'Come
"Do you know, Bearwarden," said Secretary Deepwaters, "I'm afraid when we have this
millennium of climate every one will be so well satisfied that our friend here (pointing to
Secretary Stillman with his thumb) will have nothing to do."
"I have sometimes thought some of the excitement will be gone, and the struggle of the
'survival of the fittest' will become less problematical," said Bearwarden.
"The earth seems destined to have a calm old age," said Cortlandt, "unless we can look to
the Cabinet to prevent it."
"This world will soon be a dull place. I wish we could leave it for a change," said
Ayrault. "I don't mean forever, of course, but just as people have grown tired of
remaining like plants in the places in which they grew. Alan has been a caterpillar for
untold ages; can he not become the butterfly?"
"Since we have found out how to straighten the axis," said Deepwaters, "might we not go
one better, and improve the orbit as well?--increase the difference between aphelion and
perihelion, and give those that still like a changing climate a chance, while incidentally
we should see more of the world--I mean the solar system--and, by enlarging the parallax,
be able to measure the distance of a greater number of fixed stars. Put your helm hard
down and shout 'Hard-a-lee!' You see, there is nothing simpler. You keep her off now,
and six months hence you let her luff."
"That's an idea!" said Bearwarden. "Our orbit could be enough like that of a comet to
cross the orbits of both Venus and Mars; and the climatic extremes would not be
inconvenient. The whole earth being simultaneously warmed or cooled, there would be
no equinoctials or storms resulting from changes on one part of the surface from intense
heat to intense cold; every part would have a twelve-hour day and night, and none would
be turned towards or from the sun for six months at a time; for, however eccentric the
orbit, we should keep the axis absolutely straight. At perihelion there would simply be
increased evaporation and clouds near the equator, which would shield those regions
from the sun, only to disappear again as the earth receded.