In general, the agreeable fumes of the "Aina" were created by one's own inhalations; but Donjalolo deeming the solace too dearly purchased by any exertion of the royal lungs, regaled himself through those of his attendants, whose lips were as moss-rose buds after a shower.
"Then there are more of your people in Mars?" said one of the professors. "Alas, no," replied Aina, her eyes filling with tears, "I alone am left." For a few minutes she was unable to speak.
Much, however, could be learned with the aid of Aina from the Martians, now crowded on the land about the palace. The results of these discoveries will in due time appear, fully elaborated in learned and authoritative treatises prepared by these savants themselves. I shall only call attention to one, which seemed to me very remarkable.
Aina had said that Mars had completed 5,000 circuits about the sun since her people were brought to it as captives. One circuit of Mars occupies 687 days. More than 9000 years had therefore elapsed since the first invasion of the earth by the Martians.
Speaking through Aina, the commander said: "You know who we are. We have come from the earth, which, by your command, was laid waste. Our commission was not revenge, but self-protection. What we have done has been accomplished with that in view.
"Many a time I have seen the vast snow fields around the southern pole of Mars completely disappear as the Summer sun rose high upon them." "With the melting of these snows," continued Aina, "a rapid rise in the level of the water in the southern oceans occurs.
We learned from Aina that there must be stores of provisions in the neighborhood of the palace, because it was the custom of the Martians to lay up such stores during the harvest time in each Martian year in order to provide against the contingency of an extraordinary drought.
Through tubes ignited at the end, Donjaloln's reclining attendants now blew an aromatic incense around him. These were composed of the stimulating leaves of the "Aina," mixed with the long yellow blades of a sweet-scented upland grass; forming a hollow stem.
Accordingly the flagship was carefully brought further down in front of the entrance to the palace, which had been kept clear by the Martian guards, and while the remainder of the squadron assembled within a few feet directly over our heads with the disintegrators turned upon the palace and the crowd below, Mr. Edison and myself, accompanied by Aina, stepped out upon the ground.
The girl, flushed with excitement of the novel situation, fully appreciating the importance of what was about to occur, and looking more charming than before, stood at one side of the principal apartment. Directly facing her were the interpreters, and the rest of us, all with ears intent and eyes focused upon Aina, stood in a double row behind them.