The Coming Race HTML version

Chapter 21
I had for some time observed in my host's highly informed and powerfully proportioned
daughter that kindly and protective sentiment which, whether above the earth or below it,
an all-wise Providence has bestowed upon the feminine division of the human race. But
until very lately I had ascribed it to that affection for 'pets' which a human female at every
age shares with a human child. I now became painfully aware that the feeling with which
Zee deigned to regard me was different from that which I had inspired in Taee. But this
conviction gave me none of that complacent gratification which the vanity of man
ordinarily conceives from a flattering appreciation of his personal merits on the part of
the fair sex; on the contrary, it inspired me with fear. Yet of all the Gy-ei in the
community, if Zee were perhaps the wisest and the strongest, she was, by common
repute, the gentlest, and she was certainly the most popularly beloved. The desire to aid,
to succour, to protect, to comfort, to bless, seemed to pervade her whole being. Though
the complicated miseries that originate in penury and guilt are unknown to the social
system of the Vril-ya, still, no sage had yet discovered in vril an agency which could
banish sorrow from life; and wherever amongst her people sorrow found its way, there
Zee followed in the mission of comforter. Did some sister Gy fail to secure the love she
sighed for? Zee sought her out, and brought all the resources of her lore, and all the
consolations of her sympathy, to bear upon a grief that so needs the solace of a confidant.
In the rare cases, when grave illness seized upon childhood or youth, and the cases, less
rare, when, in the hardy and adventurous probation of infants, some accident, attended
with pain and injury occurred, Zee forsook her studies and her sports, and became the
healer and nurse. Her favourite flights were towards the extreme boundaries of the
domain where children were stationed on guard against outbreaks of warring forces in
nature, or the invasions of devouring animals, so that she might warn them of any peril
which her knowledge detected or foresaw, or be at hand if any harm had befallen. Nay,
even in the exercise of her scientific acquirements there was a concurrent benevolence of
purpose and will. Did she learn any novelty in invention that would be useful to the
practitioner of some special art or craft? she hastened to communicate and explain it. Was
some veteran sage of the College perplexed and wearied with the toil of an abstruse
study? she would patiently devote herself to his aid, work out details for him, sustain his
spirits with her hopeful smile, quicken his wit with her luminous suggestion, be to him, as
it were, his own good genius made visible as the strengthener and inspirer. The same
tenderness she exhibited to the inferior creatures. I have often known her bring home
some sick and wounded animal, and tend and cherish it as a mother would tend and
cherish her stricken child. Many a time when I sat in the balcony, or hanging garden, on
which my window opened, I have watched her rising in the air on her radiant wings, and
in a few moments groups of infants below, catching sight of her, would soar upward with
joyous sounds of greeting; clustering and sporting around her, so that she seemed a very
centre of innocent delight. When I have walked with her amidst the rocks and valleys
without the city, the elk-deer would scent or see her from afar, come bounding up, eager
for the caress of her hand, or follow her footsteps, till dismissed by some musical whisper
that the creature had learned to comprehend. It is the fashion among the virgin Gy-ei to
wear on their foreheads a circlet, or coronet, with gems resembling opals, arranged in