The Land of the Changing Sun HTML version
Johnston followed his guide to a flying machine outside. He hesitated an instant, as the
officer was holding the door open, and looked back toward the conservatory; but he could
not see Thorndyke.
"Where are you taking me?" he asked desperately. But the officer did not seem to hear
the question. He was motioning to a tall man of athletic build who wore a dark blue
uniform and who came hastily forward and pushed the American into the machine.
Through the open door Johnston saw Thorndyke's anxious face as the Englishman
emerged from the conservatory and strode toward them. The two officers entered and
closed the glass door.
Then the machine rose and Johnston's spirits sank as they shot upward and floated easily
over the humming crowd into the free white light above the smokeless city. The poor
captive leaned on the window-sill and looked out. There was no breeze, and no current of
air except that caused by their rapid passage through the atmosphere.
Up, up, they went, till the city seemed a blur of mingled white and gray, and then the
color below changed to a vague blue as they flew over the fields of the open country.
The first officer took a glass and a decanter from a receptacle under a seat, and, pouring a
little red fluid into the glass, offered it to the American.
"Drink it," he said, "it will put you to sleep for a time."
"I don't want to be drugged."
"The journey will try your nerves. It is harmless."
"I don't want it; if I take it, you will have to pour it down my throat."
The officer smiled as he put the glass and decanter away. Faster and faster flew the
machine. They had to put the window down, for the current of air had become too strong
and cool to be pleasant. The color of the sunlight changed to green, and then at noon,
from the zenith, a glorious red light shimmered down and veiled the earth with such a
beautiful translucent haze that the poor American for a moment almost forgot his trouble.
The afternoon came on. The sunlight became successively green, white, blue, lavender,
rose and gray. The sun was no longer in sight and the gray in the west was darkening into
purple, the last hour of the day. Night was at hand. Johnston's limbs were growing stiff
from inaction, and he had a strong desire to speak or to hear one of the officers say
something, but they were dozing in their respective corners. The moon had risen and
hung far out in space overhead, but they seemed to be leaving it behind. Later he felt sure