The Coming Race HTML version

Chapter 19
As we walked back to the town, Taee took a new and circuitous way, in order to show me
what, to use a familiar term, I will call the 'Station,' from which emigrants or travellers to
other communities commence their journeys. I had, on a former occasion, expressed a
wish to see their vehicles. These I found to be of two kinds, one for land journeys, one for
aerial voyages: the former were of all sizes and forms, some not larger than an ordinary
carriage, some movable houses of one story and containing several rooms, furnished
according to the ideas of comfort or luxury which are entertained by the Vril-ya. The
aerial vehicles were of light substances, not the least resembling our balloons, but rather
our boats and pleasure-vessels, with helm and rudder, with large wings or paddles, and a
central machine worked by vril. All the vehicles both for land or air were indeed worked
by that potent and mysterious agency.
I saw a convoy set out on its journey, but it had few passengers, containing chiefly
articles of merchandise, and was bound to a neighbouring community; for among all the
tribes of the Vril-ya there is considerable commercial interchange. I may here observe,
that their money currency does not consist of the precious metals, which are too common
among them for that purpose. The smaller coins in ordinary use are manufactured from a
peculiar fossil shell, the comparatively scarce remnant of some very early deluge, or
other convulsion of nature, by which a species has become extinct. It is minute, and flat
as an oyster, and takes a jewel-like polish. This coinage circulates among all the tribes of
the Vril-ya. Their larger transactions are carried on much like ours, by bills of exchange,
and thin metallic plates which answer the purpose of our bank-notes.
Let me take this occasion of adding that the taxation among the tribe I became acquainted
with was very considerable, compared with the amount of population. But I never heard
that any one grumbled at it, for it was devoted to purposes of universal utility, and indeed
necessary to the civilisation of the tribe. The cost of lighting so large a range of country,
of providing for emigration, of maintaining the public buildings at which the various
operations of national intellect were carried on, from the first education of an infant to the
departments in which the College of Sages were perpetually trying new experiments in
mechanical science; all these involved the necessity for considerable state funds. To these
I must add an item that struck me as very singular. I have said that all the human labour
required by the state is carried on by children up to the marriageable age. For this labour
the state pays, and at a rate immeasurably higher than our own remuneration to labour
even in the United States. According to their theory, every child, male or female, on
attaining the marriageable age, and there terminating the period of labour, should have
acquired enough for an independent competence during life. As, no matter what the
disparity of fortune in the parents, all the children must equally serve, so all are equally
paid according to their several ages or the nature of their work. Where the parents or
friends choose to retain a child in their own service, they must pay into the public fund in
the same ratio as the state pays to the children it employs; and this sum is handed over to
the child when the period of service expires. This practice serves, no doubt, to render the
notion of social equality familiar and agreeable; and if it may be said that all the children