Le 29 mars 2016, 10:21 dans Humeurs • 0
My host then led me to a seat among the cushions, and placed himself beside me, looking for some time intently and gravely into my face, but with nothing of offensive curiosity, still less of menace in his gaze. It appeared to me as if he wished to read the character and perhaps the thoughts of his guest. The him. He stretched out his left hand, and grasping mine, placed it on his heart, and then dropping my hand, placed his upon my breast. He then spoke in words whose meaning I could not guess, but the tone sounded to me as that of inquiry.
The question most likely to be asked concerned my character and the place from which I had come. I again explained, again pointing upward. He seemed dubious or perplexed, and it occurred to me that drawing might assist explanation; since, from the bas-reliefs and tracery, it was evident that the art was carried to no common excellence in Mars. I drew, therefore, in the first place, a globe to represent the Earth, traced its orbit round the Sun, and placed a crescent Moon at some little distance, indicating its path round the Earth. It was evident that my host understood my meaning, the more clearly when I marked upon the form of the Earth a crescent, such as she would often present through a Martial telescope. Sketches in outline roughly exhibiting different stages of my voyage, from the first ascent to the final landing, appeared to convince my host of my meaning, if not of my veracity. Signing to me to remain where I was, he left the room. In a few minutes he returned, accompanied by one of the strange squirrel-like animals I had seen in the fields.
I was right in conjecturing that the creature had no opposable thumb; but a little ingenuity had compensated this so far as regarded the power of carrying. A little chain hung down from each wrist, and to these was suspended a tray, upon which were arranged a variety of fruits and what seemed to be small loaves of various materials. Breaking one of these and cutting open with a small knife, apparently of silver, one of the fruits, my host tasted each and then motioned to me to eat. The attendant had placed the tray upon a table, disengaged the chains, and disappeared; the door opening and closing as he trod, somewhat more heavily than had been necessary for my host, upon particular points of the floor.
The food offered me was very delicious and various in flavour. My host showed me how to cut the top from some of the hard-rind fruits, so as to have a cup full of the most delicately-flavoured juice, the whole pulp having been reduced to a liquid syrup by a process with which some semicivilised cultivators on Earth are familiar. When I had finished my meal, my host whistled, and the attendant, returning, carried away the tray. His master gave him at the same time what was evidently an order, repeating it twice, and speaking with signal clearness of intonation. The little creature bowed its head, apparently as a sign of intelligence, and in a few minutes returned with what seemed like a pencil or stylus and writing materials, and with a large silver-like box of very curious form.
To one side was affixed a sort of mouthpiece, consisting of a truncated cone expanding into a saucer-shaped bowl. Across the wider and outer end of the cone was stretched a membrane or diaphragm about three inches in diameter. Into the mouth of the bowl, two or three inches from the diaphragm, my host spoke one by one a series of articulate but single sounds, beginning with a, a, aa, au, o, oo, ou, u, y or ei (long), i (short), oi, e, which I afterwards found to be the twelve vowels of their language. After he had thus uttered some forty distinct sounds, he drew from the back of the instrument a slip of something like goldleaf, on which as many weird curves and angular figures were traced in crimson. Pointing to these in succession, he repeated the sounds in order. I made out that the figures in question represented the sounds spoken into the instrument, and taking out my pencil, marked under each the equivalent character of the Roman alphabet, supplemented by some letters not admitted therein but borrowed from other Aryan tongues.
My host looked on with some interest whilst I did this, and bent his head as if in approval. Here then was the alphabet of the Martial tongue—an alphabet not arbitrary, but actually produced by the vocal sounds it represented! The elaborate machinery modifies the rough signs which are traced by the mere aerial vibrations; but each character is a true physical type, a visual image, of the spoken sound; the voice, temper, accent, sex, of a speaker affect the phonograph, and are recognisable in the record. The instrument wrote, so to speak, different hands under my voice and under Esmo's; and those who knew him could identify his phonogram, as my friends my manuscript.