VALLEY OF DREAMS
Captain Harrison of the Ares expedition turned away from the little
telescope in the bow of the rocket. "Two weeks more, at the most," he
remarked. "Mars only retrogrades for seventy days in all, relative to
the earth, and we've got to be homeward bound during that period, or
wait a year and a half for old Mother Earth to go around the sun and
catch up with us again. How'd you like to spend a winter here?"
Dick Jarvis, chemist of the party, shivered as he looked up from his
notebook. "I'd just as soon spend it in a liquid air tank!" he averred.
"These eighty-below zero summer nights are plenty for me."
"Well," mused the captain, "the first successful Martian expedition
ought to be home long before then."
"Successful if we get home," corrected Jarvis. "I don't trust these
cranky rockets—not since the auxiliary dumped me in the middle of Thyle
last week. Walking back from a rocket ride is a new sensation to me."
"Which reminds me," returned Harrison, "that we've got to recover your
films. They're important if we're to pull this trip out of the red.
Remember how the public mobbed the first moon pictures? Our shots ought
to pack 'em to the doors. And the broadcast rights, too; we might show a
profit for the Academy."
"What interests me," countered Jarvis, "is a personal profit. A book,
for instance; exploration books are always popular. Martian
Deserts—how's that for a title?"
"Lousy!" grunted the captain. "Sounds like a cook-book for desserts.
You'd have to call it 'Love Life of a Martian,' or something like that."
Jarvis chuckled. "Anyway," he said, "if we once get back home, I'm going
to grab what profit there is, and never, never, get any farther from the
earth than a good stratosphere plane'll take me. I've learned to
appreciate the planet after plowing over this dried-up pill we're on
"I'll lay you odds you'll be back here year after next," grinned the
Captain. "You'll want to visit your pal—that trick ostrich."
"Tweel?" The other's tone sobered. "I wish I hadn't lost him, at that.
He was a good scout. I'd never have survived the dream-beast but for
him. And that battle with the push-cart things—I never even had a
chance to thank him."
"A pair of lunatics, you two," observed Harrison. He squinted through
the port at the gray gloom of the Mare Cimmerium. "There comes the sun."
He paused. "Listen, Dick—you and Leroy take the other auxiliary rocket
and go out and salvage those films."
Jarvis stared. "Me and Leroy?" he echoed ungrammatically. "Why not me
and Putz? An engineer would have some chance of getting us there and
back if the rocket goes bad on us."
The captain nodded toward the stern, whence issued at that moment a
medley of blows and guttural expletives. "Putz is going over the insides
of the Ares," he announced. "He'll have his hands full until we leave,
because I want every bolt inspected. It's too late for repairs once we
"And if Leroy and I crack up? That's our last auxiliary."
"Pick up another ostrich and walk back," suggested Harrison gruffly.
Then he smiled. "If you have trouble, we'll hunt you out in the Ares,"
he finished. "Those films are important." He turned. "Leroy!"
The dapper little biologist appeared, his face questioning.
"You and Jarvis are off to salvage the auxiliary," the Captain said.
"Everything's ready and you'd better start now. Call back at half-hour
intervals; I'll be listening."
Leroy's eyes glistened. "Perhaps we land for specimens—no?" he queried.
"Land if you want to. This golf ball seems safe enough."
"Except for the dream-beast," muttered Jarvis with a faint shudder. He
frowned suddenly. "Say, as long as we're going that way, suppose I have
a look for Tweel's home! He must live off there somewhere, and he's the
most important thing we've seen on Mars."
Harrison hesitated. "If I thought you could keep out of trouble," he
muttered. "All right," he decided. "Have a look. There's food and water
aboard the auxiliary; you can take a couple of days. But keep in touch
with me, you saps!"
Jarvis and Leroy went through the airlock out to the grey plain. The
thin air, still scarcely warmed by the rising sun, bit flesh and lung
like needles, and they gasped with a sense of suffocation. They dropped
to a sitting posture, waiting for their bodies, trained by months in
acclimatization chambers back on earth, to accommodate themselves to the
tenuous air. Leroy's face, as always, turned a smothered blue, and
Jarvis heard his own breath rasping and rattling in his throat. But in
five minutes, the discomfort passed; they rose and entered the little
auxiliary rocket that rested beside the black hull of the Ares.
The under-jets roared out their fiery atomic blast; dirt and bits of
shattered biopods spun away in a cloud as the rocket rose. Harrison
watched the projectile trail its flaming way into the south, then turned
back to his work.
It was four days before he saw the rocket again. Just at evening, as the
sun dropped behind the horizon with the suddenness of a candle falling
into the sea, the auxiliary flashed out of the southern heavens, easing
gently down on the flaming wings of the under-jets. Jarvis and Leroy
emerged, passed through the swiftly gathering dusk, and faced him in the
light of the Ares. He surveyed the two; Jarvis was tattered and
scratched, but apparently in better condition than Leroy, whose
dapperness was completely lost. The little biologist was pale as the
nearer moon that glowed outside; one arm was bandaged in thermo-skin and
his clothes hung in veritable rags. But it was his eyes that struck
Harrison most strangely; to one who lived these many weary days with the
diminutive Frenchman, there was something queer about them. They were
frightened, plainly enough, and that was odd, since Leroy was no coward
or he'd never have been one of the four chosen by the Academy for the
first Martian expedition. But the fear in his eyes was more
understandable than that other expression, that queer fixity of gaze
like one in a trance, or like a person in an ecstasy. "Like a chap who's
seen Heaven and Hell together," Harrison expressed it to himself. He was
yet to discover how right he was.
He assumed a gruffness as the weary pair sat down. "You're a fine
looking couple!" he growled. "I should've known better than to let you
wander off alone." He paused. "Is your arm all right, Leroy? Need any
Jarvis answered. "It's all right—just gashed. No danger of infection
here, I guess; Leroy says there aren't any microbes on Mars."
"Well," exploded the Captain, "Let's hear it, then! Your radio reports
sounded screwy. 'Escaped from Paradise!' Huh!"
"I didn't want to give details on the radio," said Jarvis soberly.
"You'd have thought we'd gone loony."
"I think so, anyway."
"Moi aussi!" muttered Leroy. "I too!"
"Shall I begin at the beginning?" queried the chemist. "Our early
reports were pretty nearly complete." He stared at Putz, who had come in
silently, his face and hands blackened with carbon, and seated himself
"At the beginning," the Captain decided.
"Well," began Jarvis, "we got started all right, and flew due south
along the meridian of the Ares, same course I'd followed last week. I
was getting used to this narrow horizon, so I didn't feel so much like
being cooped under a big bowl, but one does keep overestimating
distances. Something four miles away looks eight when you're used to
terrestrial curvature, and that makes you guess its size just four times
too large. A little hill looks like a mountain until you're almost over
"I know that," grunted Harrison.
"Yes, but Leroy didn't, and I spent our first couple of hours trying to
explain it to him. By the time he understood (if he does yet) we were
past Cimmerium and over that Xanthus desert, and then we crossed the
canal with the mud city and the barrel-shaped citizens and the place
where Tweel had shot the dream-beast. And nothing would do for Pierre
here but that we put down so he could practice his biology on the
remains. So we did.
"The thing was still there. No sign of decay; couldn't be, of course,
without bacterial forms of life, and Leroy says that Mars is as sterile
as an operating table."
"Comme le coeur d'une fileuse," corrected the little
biologist, who was beginning to regain a trace of his usual energy.
"Like an old maid's heart!"
"However," resumed Jarvis, "about a hundred of the little grey-green
biopods had fastened onto the thing and were growing and branching.
Leroy found a stick and knocked 'em off, and each branch broke away and
became a biopod crawling around with the others. So he poked around at
the creature, while I looked away from it; even dead, that rope-armed
devil gave me the creeps. And then came the surprise; the thing was part
"C'est vrai!" confirmed the biologist. "It's true!"
"It was a big cousin of the biopods," continued Jarvis. "Leroy was quite
excited; he figures that all Martian life is of that sort—neither plant
nor animal. Life here never differentiated, he says; everything has both
natures in it, even the barrel-creatures—even Tweel! I think he's
right, especially when I recall how Tweel rested, sticking his beak in
the ground and staying that way all night. I never saw him eat or drink,
either; perhaps his beak was more in the nature of a root, and he got
his nourishment that way."
"Sounds nutty to me," observed Harrison.
"Well," continued Jarvis, "we broke up a few of the other growths and
they acted the same way—the pieces crawled around, only much slower
than the biopods, and then stuck themselves in the ground. Then Leroy
had to catch a sample of the walking grass, and we were ready to leave
when a parade of the barrel-creatures rushed by with their push-carts.
They hadn't forgotten me, either; they all drummed out, 'We are
v-r-r-iends—ouch!' just as they had before. Leroy wanted to shoot one
and cut it up, but I remembered the battle Tweel and I had had with
them, and vetoed the idea. But he did hit on a possible explanation as
to what they did with all the rubbish they gathered."
"Made mud-pies, I guess," grunted the captain.
"More or less," agreed Jarvis. "They use it for food, Leroy thinks. If
they're part vegetable, you see, that's what they'd want—soil with
organic remains in it to make it fertile. That's why they ground up sand
and biopods and other growths all together. See?"
"Dimly," countered Harrison. "How about the suicides?"
"Leroy had a hunch there, too. The suicides jump into the grinder when
the mixture has too much sand and gravel; they throw themselves in to
adjust the proportions."
"Rats!" said Harrison disgustedly. "Why couldn't they bring in some
extra branches from outside?"
"Because suicide is easier. You've got to remember that these creatures
can't be judged by earthly standards; they probably don't feel pain, and
they haven't got what we'd call individuality. Any intelligence they
have is the property of the whole community—like an ant-heap. That's
it! Ants are willing to die for their ant-hill; so are these creatures."
"So are men," observed the captain, "if it comes to that."
"Yes, but men aren't exactly eager. It takes some emotion like
patriotism to work 'em to the point of dying for their country; these
things do it all in the day's work." He paused.
"Well, we took some pictures of the dream-beast and the
barrel-creatures, and then we started along. We sailed over Xanthus,
keeping as close to the meridian of the Ares as we could, and pretty
soon we crossed the trail of the pyramid-builder. So we circled back to
let Leroy take a look at it, and when we found it, we landed. The thing
had completed just two rows of bricks since Tweel and I left it, and
there it was, breathing in silicon and breathing out bricks as if it had
eternity to do it in—which it has. Leroy wanted to dissect it with a
Boland explosive bullet, but I thought that anything that had lived for
ten million years was entitled to the respect due old age, so I talked
him out of it. He peeped into the hole on top of it and nearly got
beaned by the arm coming up with a brick, and then he chipped off a few
pieces of it, which didn't disturb the creature a bit. He found the
place I'd chipped, tried to see if there was any sign of healing, and
decided he could tell better in two or three thousand years. So we took
a few shots of it and sailed on.
"Mid afternoon we located the wreck of my rocket. Not a thing disturbed;
we picked up my films and tried to decide what next. I wanted to find
Tweel if possible; I figured from the fact of his pointing south that he
lived somewhere near Thyle. We plotted our route and judged that the
desert we were in now was Thyle II; Thyle I should be east of us. So, on
a hunch, we decided to have a look at Thyle I, and away we buzzed."
"Der motors?" queried Putz, breaking his long silence.
"For a wonder, we had no trouble, Karl. Your blast worked perfectly. So
we hummed along, pretty high to get a wider view, I'd say about fifty
thousand feet. Thyle II spread out like an orange carpet, and after a
while we came to the grey branch of the Mare Chronium that bounded it.
That was narrow; we crossed it in half an hour, and there was Thyle
I—same orange-hued desert as its mate. We veered south, toward the Mare
Australe, and followed the edge of the desert. And toward sunset we
"Shpotted?" echoed Putz. "Vot vas shpotted?"
"The desert was spotted—with buildings! Not one of the mud cities of
the canals, although a canal went through it. From the map we figured
the canal was a continuation of the one Schiaparelli called Ascanius.
"We were probably too high to be visible to any inhabitants of the city,
but also too high for a good look at it, even with the glasses. However,
it was nearly sunset, anyway, so we didn't plan on dropping in. We
circled the place; the canal went out into the Mare Australe, and there,
glittering in the south, was the melting polar ice-cap! The canal
drained it; we could distinguish the sparkle of water in it. Off to the
southeast, just at the edge of the Mare Australe, was a valley—the
first irregularity I'd seen on Mars except the cliffs that bounded
Xanthus and Thyle II. We flew over the valley—" Jarvis paused suddenly
and shuddered; Leroy, whose color had begun to return, seemed to pale.
The chemist resumed, "Well, the valley looked all right—then! Just a
gray waste, probably full of crawlers like the others.
"We circled back over the city; say, I want to tell you that place
was—well, gigantic! It was colossal; at first I thought the size was
due to that illusion I spoke of—you know, the nearness of the
horizon—but it wasn't that. We sailed right over it, and you've never
seen anything like it!
"But the sun dropped out of sight right then. I knew we were pretty far
south—latitude 60—but I didn't know just how much night we'd have."
Harrison glanced at a Schiaparelli chart. "About 60—eh?" he said.
"Close to what corresponds to the Antarctic circle. You'd have about
four hours of night at this season. Three months from now you'd have
none at all."
"Three months!" echoed Jarvis, surprised. Then he grinned. "Right! I
forget the seasons here are twice as long as ours. Well, we sailed out
into the desert about twenty miles, which put the city below the horizon
in case we overslept, and there we spent the night.
"You're right about the length of it. We had about four hours of
darkness which left us fairly rested. We ate breakfast, called our
location to you, and started over to have a look at the city.
"We sailed toward it from the east and it loomed up ahead of us like a
range of mountains. Lord, what a city! Not that New York mightn't have
higher buildings, or Chicago cover more ground, but for sheer mass,
those structures were in a class by themselves. Gargantuan!
"There was a queer look about the place, though. You know how a
terrestrial city sprawls out, a nimbus of suburbs, a ring of residential
sections, factory districts, parks, highways. There was none of that
here; the city rose out of the desert as abruptly as a cliff. Only a few
little sand mounds marked the division, and then the walls of those
"The architecture was strange, too. There were lots of devices that are
impossible back home, such as set-backs in reverse, so that a building
with a small base could spread out as it rose. That would be a valuable
trick in New York, where land is almost priceless, but to do it, you'd
have to transfer Martian gravitation there!
"Well, since you can't very well land a rocket in a city street, we put
down right next to the canal side of the city, took our small cameras
and revolvers, and started for a gap in the wall of masonry. We weren't
ten feet from the rocket when we both saw the explanation for a lot of
"The city was in ruin! Abandoned, deserted, dead as Babylon! Or at
least, so it looked to us then, with its empty streets which, if they
had been paved, were now deep under sand."
"A ruin, eh?" commented Harrison. "How old?"
"How could we tell?" countered Jarvis. "The next expedition to this golf
ball ought to carry an archeologist—and a philologist, too, as we
found out later. But it's a devil of a job to estimate the age of
anything here; things weather so slowly that most of the buildings might
have been put up yesterday. No rainfall, no earthquakes, no vegetation
is here to spread cracks with its roots—nothing. The only aging factors
here are the erosion of the wind—and that's negligible in this
atmosphere—and the cracks caused by changing temperature. And one other
agent—meteorites. They must crash down occasionally on the city,
judging from the thinness of the air, and the fact that we've seen four
strike ground right here near the Ares."
"Seven," corrected the captain. "Three dropped while you were gone."
"Well, damage by meteorites must be slow, anyway. Big ones would be as
rare here as on earth, because big ones get through in spite of the
atmosphere, and those buildings could sustain a lot of little ones. My
guess at the city's age—and it may be wrong by a big percentage—would
be fifteen thousand years. Even that's thousands of years older than any
human civilization; fifteen thousand years ago was the Late Stone Age in
the history of mankind.
"So Leroy and I crept up to those tremendous buildings feeling like
pygmies, sort of awe-struck, and talking in whispers. I tell you, it was
ghostly walking down that dead and deserted street, and every time we
passed through a shadow, we shivered, and not just because shadows are
cold on Mars. We felt like intruders, as if the great race that had
built the place might resent our presence even across a hundred and
fifty centuries. The place was as quiet as a grave, but we kept
imagining things and peeping down the dark lanes between buildings and
looking over our shoulders. Most of the structures were windowless, but
when we did see an opening in those vast walls, we couldn't look away,
expecting to see some horror peering out of it.
"Then we passed an edifice with an open arch; the doors were there, but
blocked open by sand. I got up nerve enough to take a look inside, and
then, of course, we discovered we'd forgotten to take our flashes. But
we eased a few feet into the darkness and the passage debouched into a
colossal hall. Far above us a little crack let in a pallid ray of
daylight, not nearly enough to light the place; I couldn't even see if
the hall rose clear to the distant roof. But I know the place was
enormous; I said something to Leroy and a million thin echoes came
slipping back to us out of the darkness. And after that, we began to
hear other sounds—slithering rustling noises, and whispers, and sounds
like suppressed breathing—and something black and silent passed between
us and that far-away crevice of light.
"Then we saw three little greenish spots of luminosity in the dusk to
our left. We stood staring at them, and suddenly they all shifted at
once. Leroy yelled 'Ce sont des yeux!' and they were! They
"Well, we stood frozen for a moment, while Leroy's yell reverberated
back and forth between the distant walls, and the echoes repeated the
words in queer, thin voices. There were mumblings and mutterings and
whisperings and sounds like strange soft laughter, and then the
three-eyed thing moved again. Then we broke for the door!
"We felt better out in the sunlight; we looked at each other sheepishly,
but neither of us suggested another look at the buildings inside—though
we did see the place later, and that was queer, too—but you'll hear
about it when I come to it. We just loosened our revolvers and crept on
along that ghostly street.
"The street curved and twisted and subdivided. I kept careful note of
our directions, since we couldn't risk getting lost in that gigantic
maze. Without our thermo-skin bags, night would finish us, even if what
lurked in the ruins didn't. By and by, I noticed that we were veering
back toward the canal, the buildings ended and there were only a few
dozen ragged stone huts which looked as though they might have been
built of debris from the city. I was just beginning to feel a bit
disappointed at finding no trace of Tweel's people here when we rounded
a corner and there he was!
"I yelled 'Tweel!' but he just stared, and then I realized that he
wasn't Tweel, but another Martian of his sort. Tweel's feathery
appendages were more orange hued and he stood several inches taller than
this one. Leroy was sputtering in excitement, and the Martian kept his
vicious beak directed at us, so I stepped forward as peace-maker. I said
'Tweel?' very questioningly, but there was no result. I tried it a dozen
times, and we finally had to give it up; we couldn't connect.
"Leroy and I walked toward the huts, and the Martian followed us. Twice
he was joined by others, and each time I tried yelling 'Tweel' at them
but they just stared at us. So we ambled on with the three trailing us,
and then it suddenly occurred to me that my Martian accent might be at
fault. I faced the group and tried trilling it out the way Tweel himself
did: 'T-r-r-rwee-r-rl!' Like that.
"And that worked! One of them spun his head around a full ninety
degrees, and screeched 'T-r-r-rweee-r-rl!' and a moment later, like an
arrow from a bow, Tweel came sailing over the nearer huts to land on his
beak in front of me!
"Man, we were glad to see each other! Tweel set up a twittering and
chirping like a farm in summer and went sailing up and coming down on
his beak, and I would have grabbed his hands, only he wouldn't keep
still long enough.
"The other Martians and Leroy just stared, and after a while, Tweel
stopped bouncing, and there we were. We couldn't talk to each other any
more than we could before, so after I'd said 'Tweel' a couple of times
and he'd said 'Tick,' we were more or less helpless. However, it was
only mid-morning, and it seemed important to learn all we could about
Tweel and the city, so I suggested that he guide us around the place if
he weren't busy. I put over the idea by pointing back at the buildings
and then at him and us.
"Well, apparently he wasn't too busy, for he set off with us, leading
the way with one of his hundred and fifty-foot nosedives that set Leroy
gasping. When we caught up, he said something like 'one, one, two—two,
two, four—no, no—yes, yes—rock—no breet!' That didn't seem to mean
anything; perhaps he was just letting Leroy know that he could speak
English, or perhaps he was merely running over his vocabulary to refresh
"Anyway, he showed us around. He had a light of sorts in his black
pouch, good enough for small rooms, but simply lost in some of the
colossal caverns we went through. Nine out of ten buildings meant
absolutely nothing to us—just vast empty chambers, full of shadows and
rustlings and echoes. I couldn't imagine their use; they didn't seem
suitable for living quarters, or even for commercial purposes—trade and
so forth; they might have been all right as power-houses, but what could
have been the purpose of a whole city full? And where were the remains
of the machinery?
"The place was a mystery. Sometimes Tweel would show us through a hall
that would have housed an ocean-liner, and he'd seem to swell with
pride—and we couldn't make a damn thing of it! As a display of
architectural power, the city was colossal; as anything else it was just
"But we did see one thing that registered. We came to that same building
Leroy and I had entered earlier—the one with the three eyes in it.
Well, we were a little shaky about going in there, but Tweel twittered
and trilled and kept saying, 'Yes, yes, yes!' so we followed him,
staring nervously about for the thing that had watched us. However, that
hall was just like the others, full of murmurs and slithering noises and
shadowy things slipping away into corners. If the three-eyed creature
were still there, it must have slunk away with the others.
"Tweel led us along the wall; his light showed a series of little
alcoves, and in the first of these we ran into a puzzling thing—a very
weird thing. As the light flashed into the alcove, I saw first just an
empty space, and then, squatting on the floor, I saw—it! A little
creature about as big as a large rat, it was, gray and huddled and
evidently startled by our appearance. It had the queerest, most devilish
little face!—pointed ears or horns and satanic eyes that seemed to
sparkle with a sort of fiendish intelligence.
"Tweel saw it, too, and let out a screech of anger, and the creature
rose on two pencil-thin legs and scuttled off with a half-terrified,
half defiant squeak. It darted past us into the darkness too quickly
even for Tweel, and as it ran, something waved on its body like the
fluttering of a cape. Tweel screeched angrily at it and set up a shrill
hullabaloo that sounded like genuine rage.
"But the thing was gone, and then I noticed the weirdest of imaginable
details. Where it had squatted on the floor was—a book! It had been
hunched over a book!
"I took a step forward; sure enough, there was some sort of inscription
on the pages—wavy white lines like a seismograph record on black sheets
like the material of Tweel's pouch. Tweel fumed and whistled in wrath,
picked up the volume and slammed it into place on a shelf full of
others. Leroy and I stared dumbfounded at each other.
"Had the little thing with the fiendish face been reading? Or was it
simply eating the pages, getting physical nourishment rather than
mental? Or had the whole thing been accidental?
"If the creature were some rat-like pest that destroyed books, Tweel's
rage was understandable, but why should he try to prevent an intelligent
being, even though of an alien race, from reading—if it was reading? I
don't know; I did notice that the book was entirely undamaged, nor did I
see a damaged book among any that we handled. But I have an odd hunch
that if we knew the secret of the little cape-clothed imp, we'd know the
mystery of the vast abandoned city and of the decay of Martian culture.
"Well, Tweel quieted down after a while and led us completely around
that tremendous hall. It had been a library, I think; at least, there
were thousands upon thousands of those queer black-paged volumes printed
in wavy lines of white. There were pictures, too, in some; and some of
these showed Tweel's people. That's a point, of course; it indicated
that his race built the city and printed the books. I don't think the
greatest philologist on earth will ever translate one line of those
records; they were made by minds too different from ours.
"Tweel could read them, naturally. He twittered off a few lines, and
then I took a few of the books, with his permission; he said 'no, no!'
to some and 'yes, yes!' to others. Perhaps he kept back the ones his
people needed, or perhaps he let me take the ones he thought we'd
understand most easily. I don't know; the books are outside there in the
"Then he held that dim torch of his toward the walls, and they were
pictured. Lord, what pictures! They stretched up and up into the
blackness of the roof, mysterious and gigantic. I couldn't make much of
the first wall; it seemed to be a portrayal of a great assembly of
Tweel's people. Perhaps it was meant to symbolize Society or Government.
But the next wall was more obvious; it showed creatures at work on a
colossal machine of some sort, and that would be Industry or Science.
The back wall had corroded away in part, from what we could see, I
suspected the scene was meant to portray Art, but it was on the fourth
wall that we got a shock that nearly dazed us.
"I think the symbol was Exploration or Discovery. This wall was a little
plainer, because the moving beam of daylight from that crack lit up the
higher surface and Tweel's torch illuminated the lower. We made out a
giant seated figure, one of the beaked Martians like Tweel, but with
every limb suggesting heaviness, weariness. The arms dropped inertly on
the chair, the thin neck bent and the beak rested on the body, as if the
creature could scarcely bear its own weight. And before it was a queer
kneeling figure, and at sight of it, Leroy and I almost reeled against
each other. It was, apparently, a man!"
"A man!" bellowed Harrison. "A man you say?"
"I said apparently," retorted Jarvis. "The artist had exaggerated the
nose almost to the length of Tweel's beak, but the figure had black
shoulder-length hair, and instead of the Martian four, there were five
fingers on its outstretched hand! It was kneeling as if in worship of
the Martian, and on the ground was what looked like a pottery bowl full
of some food as an offering. Well! Leroy and I thought we'd gone
"And Putz and I think so, too!" roared the captain.
"Maybe we all have," replied Jarvis, with a faint grin at the pale face
of the little Frenchman, who returned it in silence. "Anyway," he
continued, "Tweel was squeaking and pointing at the figure, and saying
'Tick! Tick!' so he recognized the resemblance—and never mind any
cracks about my nose!" he warned the captain. "It was Leroy who made the
important comment; he looked at the Martian and said 'Thoth! The god
"Oui!" confirmed the biologist. "Comme l'Egypte!"
"Yeah," said Jarvis. "Like the Egyptian ibis-headed god—the one with
the beak. Well, no sooner did Tweel hear the name Thoth than he set up a
clamor of twittering and squeaking. He pointed at himself and said
'Thoth! Thoth!' and then waved his arm all around and repeated it. Of
course he often did queer things, but we both thought we understood what
he meant. He was trying to tell us that his race called themselves
Thoth. Do you see what I'm getting at?"
"I see, all right," said Harrison. "You think the Martians paid a visit
to the earth, and the Egyptians remembered it in their mythology. Well,
you're off, then; there wasn't any Egyptian civilization fifteen
thousand years ago."
"Wrong!" grinned Jarvis. "It's too bad we haven't an archeologist
with us, but Leroy tells me that there was a stone-age culture in Egypt
then, the pre-dynastic civilization."
"Well, even so, what of it?"
"Plenty! Everything in that picture proves my point. The attitude of the
Martian, heavy and weary—that's the unnatural strain of terrestrial
gravitation. The name Thoth; Leroy tells me Thoth was the Egyptian god
of philosophy and the inventor of writing! Get that? They must have
picked up the idea from watching the Martian take notes. It's too much
for coincidence that Thoth should be beaked and ibis-headed, and that
the beaked Martians call themselves Thoth."
"Well, I'll be hanged! But what about the nose on the Egyptian? Do you
mean to tell me that stone-age Egyptians had longer noses than ordinary
"Of course not! It's just that the Martians very naturally cast their
paintings in Martianized form. Don't human beings tend to relate
everything to themselves? That's why dugongs and manatees started the
mermaid myths—sailors thought they saw human features on the beasts. So
the Martian artist, drawing either from descriptions or imperfect
photographs, naturally exaggerated the size of the human nose to a
degree that looked normal to him. Or anyway, that's my theory."
"Well, it'll do as a theory," grunted Harrison. "What I want to hear is
why you two got back here looking like a couple of year-before-last
Jarvis shuddered again, and cast another glance at Leroy. The little
biologist was recovering some of his accustomed poise, but he returned
the glance with an echo of the chemist's shudder.
"We'll get to that," resumed the latter. "Meanwhile I'll stick to Tweel
and his people. We spent the better part of three days with them, as you
know. I can't give every detail, but I'll summarize the important facts
and give our conclusions, which may not be worth an inflated franc. It's
hard to judge this dried-up world by earthly standards.
"We took pictures of everything possible; I even tried to photograph
that gigantic mural in the library, but unless Tweel's lamp was
unusually rich in actinic rays, I don't suppose it'll show. And that's a
pity, since it's undoubtedly the most interesting object we've found on
Mars, at least from a human viewpoint.
"Tweel was a very courteous host. He took us to all the points of
interest—even the new water-works."
Putz's eyes brightened at the word. "Vater-vorks?" he echoed. "For vot?"
"For the canal, naturally. They have to build up a head of water to
drive it through; that's obvious." He looked at the captain. "You told
me yourself that to drive water from the polar caps of Mars to the
equator was equivalent to forcing it up a twenty-mile hill, because Mars
is flattened at the poles and bulges at the equator just like the
"That's true," agreed Harrison.
"Well," resumed Jarvis, "this city was one of the relay stations to
boost the flow. Their power plant was the only one of the giant
buildings that seemed to serve any useful purpose, and that was worth
seeing. I wish you'd seen it, Karl; you'll have to make what you can
from our pictures. It's a sun-power plant!"
Harrison and Putz stared. "Sun-power!" grunted the captain. "That's
primitive!" And the engineer added an emphatic "Ja!" of
"Not as primitive as all that," corrected Jarvis. "The sunlight focused
on a queer cylinder in the center of a big concave mirror, and they drew
an electric current from it. The juice worked the pumps."
"A t'ermocouple!" ejaculated Putz.
"That sounds reasonable; you can judge by the pictures. But the
power-plant had some queer things about it. The queerest was that the
machinery was tended, not by Tweel's people, but by some of the
barrel-shaped creatures like the ones in Xanthus!" He gazed around at
the faces of his auditors; there was no comment.
"Get it?" he resumed. At their silence, he proceeded, "I see you don't.
Leroy figured it out, but whether rightly or wrongly, I don't know. He
thinks that the barrels and Tweel's race have a reciprocal arrangement
like—well, like bees and flowers on earth. The flowers give honey for
the bees; the bees carry the pollen for the flowers. See? The barrels
tend the works and Tweel's people build the canal system. The Xanthus
city must have been a boosting station; that explains the mysterious
machines I saw. And Leroy believes further that it isn't an intelligent
arrangement—not on the part of the barrels, at least—but that it's been
done for so many thousands of generations that it's become
instinctive—a tropism—just like the actions of ants and bees. The
creatures have been bred to it!"
"Nuts!" observed Harrison. "Let's hear you explain the reason for that
big empty city, then."
"Sure. Tweel's civilization is decadent, that's the reason. It's a dying
race, and out of all the millions that must once have lived there,
Tweel's couple of hundred companions are the remnant. They're an
outpost, left to tend the source of the water at the polar cap; probably
there are still a few respectable cities left somewhere on the canal
system, most likely near the tropics. It's the last gasp of a race—and
a race that reached a higher peak of culture than Man!"
"Huh?" said Harrison. "Then why are they dying? Lack of water?"
"I don't think so," responded the chemist. "If my guess at the city's
age is right, fifteen thousand years wouldn't make enough difference in
the water supply—nor a hundred thousand, for that matter. It's
something else, though the water's doubtless a factor."
"Das wasser," cut in Putz. "Vere goes dot?"
"Even a chemist knows that!" scoffed Jarvis. "At least on earth. Here
I'm not so sure, but on earth, every time there's a lightning flash, it
electrolyzes some water vapor into hydrogen and oxygen, and then the
hydrogen escapes into space, because terrestrial gravitation won't hold
it permanently. And every time there's an earthquake, some water is lost
to the interior. Slow—but damned certain." He turned to Harrison.
"Right," conceded the captain. "But here, of course—no earthquakes, no
thunderstorms—the loss must be very slow. Then why is the race dying?"
"The sun-power plant answers that," countered Jarvis. "Lack of fuel!
Lack of power! No oil left, no coal left—if Mars ever had a
Carboniferous Age—and no water-power—just the driblets of energy they
can get from the sun. That's why they're dying."
"With the limitless energy of the atom?" exploded Harrison.
"They don't know about atomic energy. Probably never did. Must have used
some other principle in their space-ship."
"Then," snapped the captain, "what makes you rate their intelligence
above the human? We've finally cracked open the atom!"
"Sure we have. We had a clue, didn't we? Radium and uranium. Do you
think we'd ever have learned how without those elements? We'd never even
have suspected that atomic energy existed!"
"Well? Haven't they—?"
"No, they haven't. You've told me yourself that Mars has only 73 percent
of the earth's density. Even a chemist can see that that means a lack of
heavy metals—no osmium, no uranium, no radium. They didn't have the
"Even so, that doesn't prove they're more advanced than we are. If they
were more advanced, they'd have discovered it anyway."
"Maybe," conceded Jarvis. "I'm not claiming that we don't surpass them
in some ways. But in others, they're far ahead of us."
"In what, for instance?"
"Well—socially, for one thing."
"Huh? How do you mean?"
Jarvis glanced in turn at each of the three that faced him. He
hesitated. "I wonder how you chaps will take this," he muttered.
"Naturally, everybody likes his own system best." He frowned. "Look
here—on the earth we have three types of society, haven't we? And
there's a member of each type right here. Putz lives under a
dictatorship—an autocracy. Leroy's a citizen of the Sixth Commune in
France. Harrison and I are Americans, members of a democracy. There you
are—autocracy, democracy, communism—the three types of terrestrial
societies. Tweel's people have a different system from any of us."
"Different? What is it?"
"The one no earthly nation has tried. Anarchy!"
"Anarchy!" the captain and Putz burst out together.
"But—" Harrison was sputtering. "What do you mean—they're ahead of us?
"All right—bah!" retorted Jarvis. "I'm not saying it would work for us,
or for any race of men. But it works for them."
"But—anarchy!" The captain was indignant.
"Well, when you come right down to it," argued Jarvis defensively,
"anarchy is the ideal form of government, if it works. Emerson said that
the best government was that which governs least, and so did Wendell
Phillips, and I think George Washington. And you can't have any form of
government which governs less than anarchy, which is no government at
The captain was sputtering. "But—it's unnatural! Even savage tribes
have their chiefs! Even a pack of wolves has its leader!"
"Well," retorted Jarvis defiantly, "that only proves that government is
a primitive device, doesn't it? With a perfect race you wouldn't need it
at all; government is a confession of weakness, isn't it? It's a
confession that part of the people won't cooperate with the rest and
that you need laws to restrain those individuals which a psychologist
calls anti-social. If there were no anti-social persons—criminals and
such—you wouldn't need laws or police, would you?"
"But government! You'd need government! How about public
"No wars on Mars, in spite of being named after the War God. No point in
wars here; the population is too thin and too scattered, and besides, it
takes the help of every single community to keep the canal system
functioning. No taxes because, apparently, all individuals cooperate in
building public works. No competition to cause trouble, because anybody
can help himself to anything. As I said, with a perfect race government
is entirely unnecessary."
"And do you consider the Martians a perfect race?" asked the captain
"Not at all! But they've existed so much longer than man that they're
evolved, socially at least, to the point where they don't need
government. They work together, that's all." Jarvis paused. "Queer,
isn't it—as if Mother Nature were carrying on two experiments, one at
home and one on Mars. On earth it's trial of an emotional, highly
competitive race in a world of plenty; here it's the trial of a quiet,
friendly race on a desert, unproductive, and inhospitable world.
Everything here makes for cooperation. Why, there isn't even the factor
that causes so much trouble at home—sex!"
"Yeah: Tweel's people reproduce just like the barrels in the mud cities;
two individuals grow a third one between them. Another proof of Leroy's
theory that Martian life is neither animal nor vegetable. Besides, Tweel
was a good enough host to let him poke down his beak and twiddle his
feathers, and the examination convinced Leroy."
"Oui," confirmed the biologist. "It is true."
"But anarchy!" grumbled Harrison disgustedly. "It would show up on a
dizzy, half-dead pill like Mars!"
"It'll be a good many centuries before you'll have to worry about it on
earth," grinned Jarvis. He resumed his narrative.
"Well, we wandered through that sepulchral city, taking pictures of
everything. And then—" Jarvis paused and shuddered—"then I took a
notion to have a look at that valley we'd spotted from the rocket. I
don't know why. But when we tried to steer Tweel in that direction, he
set up such a squawking and screeching that I thought he'd gone batty."
"If possible!" jeered Harrison.
"So we started over there without him; he kept wailing and screaming,
'No—no—no! Tick!' but that made us the more curious. He sailed over our
heads and stuck on his beak, and went through a dozen other antics, but
we ploughed on, and finally he gave up and trudged disconsolately along
"The valley wasn't more than a mile southeast of the city. Tweel could
have covered the distance in twenty jumps, but he lagged and loitered
and kept pointing back at the city and wailing 'No—no—no!' Then he'd
sail up into the air and zip down on his beak directly in front of us,
and we'd have to walk around him. I'd seen him do lots of crazy things
before, of course; I was used to them, but it was as plain as print that
he didn't want us to see that valley."
"Why?" queried Harrison.
"You asked why we came back like tramps," said Jarvis with a faint
shudder. "You'll learn. We plugged along up a low rocky hill that
bounded it, and as we neared the top, Tweel said, 'No breet', Tick! No
breet'!' Well, those were the words he used to describe the silicon
monster; they were also the words he had used to tell me that the image
of Fancy Long, the one that had almost lured me to the dream-beast,
wasn't real. I remembered that, but it meant nothing to me—then!
"Right after that, Tweel said, 'You one-one-two, he one-one-two,' and
then I began to see. That was the phrase he had used to explain the
dream-beast to tell me that what I thought, the creature thought—to
tell me how the thing lured its victims by their own desires. So I
warned Leroy; it seemed to me that even the dream-beast couldn't be
dangerous if we were warned and expecting it. Well, I was wrong!
"As we reached the crest, Tweel spun his head completely around, so his
feet were forward but his eyes looked backward, as if he feared to gaze
into the valley. Leroy and I stared out over it, just a gray waste like
this around us, with the gleam of the south polar cap far beyond its
southern rim. That's what it was one second; the next it was—Paradise!"
"What?" exclaimed the captain.
Jarvis turned to Leroy. "Can you describe it?" he asked.
The biologist waved helpless hands, "C'est impossible!" he
whispered. "Il me rend muet!"
"It strikes me dumb, too," muttered Jarvis. "I don't know how to tell
it; I'm a chemist, not a poet. Paradise is as good a word as I can think
of, and that's not at all right. It was Paradise and Hell in one!"
"Will you talk sense?" growled Harrison.
"As much of it as makes sense. I tell you, one moment we were looking at
a grey valley covered with blobby plants, and the next—Lord! You can't
imagine that next moment! How would you like to see all your dreams made
real? Every desire you'd ever had gratified? Everything you'd ever
wanted there for the taking?"
"I'd like it fine!" said the captain.
"You're welcome, then!—not only your noble desires, remember! Every
good impulse, yes—but also every nasty little wish, every vicious
thought, everything you'd ever desired, good or bad! The dream-beasts
are marvelous salesmen, but they lack the moral sense!"
"Yes. It was a valley of them. Hundreds, I suppose, maybe thousands.
Enough, at any rate, to spread out a complete picture of your desires,
even all the forgotten ones that must have been drawn out of the
subconscious. A Paradise—of sorts! I saw a dozen Fancy Longs, in every
costume I'd ever admired on her, and some I must have imagined. I saw
every beautiful woman I've ever known, and all of them pleading for my
attention. I saw every lovely place I'd ever wanted to be, all packed
queerly into that little valley. And I saw—other things." He shook his
head soberly. "It wasn't all exactly pretty. Lord! How much of the beast
is left in us! I suppose if every man alive could have one look at that
weird valley, and could see just once what nastiness is hidden in
him—well, the world might gain by it. I thanked heaven afterwards that
Leroy—and even Tweel—saw their own pictures and not mine!"
Jarvis paused again, then resumed, "I turned dizzy with a sort of
ecstasy. I closed my eyes—and with eyes closed, I still saw the whole
thing! That beautiful, evil, devilish panorama was in my mind, not my
eyes. That's how those fiends work—through the mind. I knew it was the
dream-beasts; I didn't need Tweel's wail of 'No breet'! No breet'!'
But—I couldn't keep away! I knew it was death beckoning, but it was
worth it for one moment with the vision."
"Which particular vision?" asked Harrison dryly.
Jarvis flushed. "No matter," he said. "But beside me I heard Leroy's cry
of 'Yvonne! Yvonne!' and I knew he was trapped like myself. I fought for
sanity; I kept telling myself to stop, and all the time I was rushing
headlong into the snare!
"Then something tripped me. Tweel! He had come leaping from behind; as I
crashed down I saw him flash over me straight toward—toward what I'd
been running to, with his vicious beak pointed right at her heart!"
"Oh!" nodded the captain. "Her heart!"
"Never mind that. When I scrambled up, that particular image was gone,
and Tweel was in a twist of black ropey arms, just as when I first saw
him. He'd missed a vital point in the beast's anatomy, but was jabbing
away desperately with his beak.
"Somehow, the spell had lifted, or partially lifted. I wasn't five feet
from Tweel, and it took a terrific struggle, but I managed to raise my
revolver and put a Boland shell into the beast. Out came a spurt of
horrible black corruption, drenching Tweel and me—and I guess the
sickening smell of it helped to destroy the illusion of that valley of
beauty. Anyway, we managed to get Leroy away from the devil that had
him, and the three of us staggered to the ridge and over. I had presence
of mind enough to raise my camera over the crest and take a shot of the
valley, but I'll bet it shows nothing but gray waste and writhing
horrors. What we saw was with our minds, not our eyes."
Jarvis paused and shuddered. "The brute half poisoned Leroy," he
continued. "We dragged ourselves back to the auxiliary, called you, and
did what we could to treat ourselves. Leroy took a long dose of the
cognac that we had with us; we didn't dare try anything of Tweel's
because his metabolism is so different from ours that what cured him
might kill us. But the cognac seemed to work, and so, after I'd done one
other thing I wanted to do, we came back here—and that's all."
"All, is it?" queried Harrison. "So you've solved all the mysteries of
"Not by a damned sight!" retorted Jarvis. "Plenty of unanswered
questions are left."
"Ja!" snapped Putz. "Der evaporation—dot iss shtopped how?"
"In the canals? I wondered about that, too; in those thousands of miles,
and against this low air-pressure, you'd think they'd lose a lot. But
the answer's simple; they float a skin of oil on the water."
Putz nodded, but Harrison cut in. "Here's a puzzler. With only coal and
oil—just combustion or electric power—where'd they get the energy to
build a planet-wide canal system, thousands and thousands of miles of
'em? Think of the job we had cutting the Panama Canal to sea level, and
then answer that!"
"Easy!" grinned Jarvis. "Martian gravity and Martian air—that's the
answer. Figure it out: First, the dirt they dug only weighed a third its
earth-weight. Second, a steam engine here expands against ten pounds per
square inch less air pressure than on earth. Third, they could build the
engine three times as large here with no greater internal weight. And
fourth, the whole planet's nearly level. Right, Putz?"
The engineer nodded. "Ja! Der shteam—engine—it iss
sieben-und zwanzig—twenty-seven times so effective here."
"Well, there does go the last mystery then," mused Harrison.
"Yeah?" queried Jarvis sardonically. "You answer these, then. What was
the nature of that vast empty city? Why do the Martians need canals,
since we never saw them eat or drink? Did they really visit the earth
before the dawn of history, and, if not atomic energy, what powered
their ship? Since Tweel's race seems to need little or no water, are
they merely operating the canals for some higher creature that does?
Are there other intelligences on Mars? If not, what was the
demon-faced imp we saw with the book? There are a few mysteries for
"I know one or two more!" growled Harrison, glaring suddenly at little
Leroy. "You and your visions! 'Yvonne!' eh? Your wife's name is Marie,
The little biologist turned crimson. "Oui," he admitted
unhappily. He turned pleading eyes on the captain. "Please," he said.
"In Paris tout le monde—everybody he think differently of
those things—no?" He twisted uncomfortably. "Please, you will not tell
Marie, n'est-ce pas?"
Harrison chuckled. "None of my business," he said. "One more question,
Jarvis. What was the one other thing you did before returning here?"
Jarvis looked diffident. "Oh—that." He hesitated. "Well I sort of felt
we owed Tweel a lot, so after some trouble, we coaxed him into the
rocket and sailed him out to the wreck of the first one, over on Thyle
II. Then," he finished apologetically, "I showed him the atomic blast,
got it working—and gave it to him!"
"You what?" roared the Captain. "You turned something as powerful as
that over to an alien race—maybe some day as an enemy race?"
"Yes, I did," said Jarvis. "Look here," he argued defensively. "This
lousy, dried-up pill of a desert called Mars'll never support much human
population. The Sahara desert is just as good a field for imperialism,
and a lot closer to home. So we'll never find Tweel's race enemies. The
only value we'll find here is commercial trade with the Martians. Then
why shouldn't I give Tweel a chance for survival? With atomic energy,
they can run their canal system a hundred per cent instead of only one
out of five, as Putz's observations showed. They can repopulate those
ghostly cities; they can resume their arts and industries; they can
trade with the nations of the earth—and I'll bet they can teach us a
few things," he paused, "if they can figure out the atomic blast, and
I'll lay odds they can. They're no fools, Tweel and his ostrich-faced
Produced by Greg Weeks, Pat A. Benoy and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
Transcriber's Note: This etext of Valley of Dreams by Stanley G. Weinbaum was
produced from "A Martian Odyssey and Others"
published in 1949. Extensive research did not uncover
any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed. Pagination
corresponds to that of the original text.