View Full Version : First Men in the Moon, The - Herbert George Wells

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06-01-2007, 11:58 PM
Chapter 22 - The Astonishing Communication of Mr. Julius Wendigee

WHEN I had finished my account of my return to the earth at Littlestone, I
wrote, "The End," made a flourish, and threw my pen aside, fully believing
that the whole story of the First Men in the Moon was done. Not only had I
done this, but I had placed my manuscript in the hands of a literary
agent, had permitted it to be sold, had seen the greater portion of it
appear in the Strand Magazine, and was setting to work again upon the
scenario of the play I had commenced at Lympne before I realised that the
end was not yet. And then, following me from Amalfi to Algiers, there
reached me (it is now about six months ago) one of the most astounding
communications I have ever been fated to receive. Briefly, it informed me
that Mr. Julius Wendigee, a Dutch electrician, who has been experimenting
with certain apparatus akin to the apparatus used by Mr. Tesla in America,
in the hope of discovering some method of communication with Mars, was
receiving day by day a curiously fragmentary message in English, which was
indisputably emanating from Mr. Cavor in the moon.

At first I thought the thing was an elaborate practical by some one who
had seen the manuscript of my narrative. I answered Mr. Wendigee
jestingly, but he replied in a manner that put such suspicion altogether
aside, and in a state of inconceivable excitement I hurried from Algiers
to the little observatory upon the St. Gothard in which he was working. In
the presence of his record and his appliances - and above all of the
messages from Cavor that were coming to hand - my lingering doubts
vanished. I decided at once to accept a proposal he made to me to remain
with him, assisting him to take down the record from day to day, and
endeavouring with him to send a message back to the moon. Cavor, we
learnt, was not only alive, but free, in the midst of an almost
inconceivable community of these ant-like beings, these ant-men, in the
blue darkness of the lunar caves. He was lamed, it seemed, but otherwise
in quite good health - in better health, he distinctly said, than he
usually enjoyed on earth. He had had a fever, but it had left no bad
effects. But curiously enough he seemed to be labouring under a conviction
that I was either dead in the moon crater or lost in the deep of space.

His message began to be received by Mr. Wendigee when that gentleman was
engaged in quite a different investigation. The reader will no doubt
recall the little excitement that began the century, arising out an
announcement by Mr. Nikola Tesla, the American electrical celebrity, that
he had received a message from Mars. His announcement renewed attention to
fact that had long been familiar to scientific people, namely: that from
some unknown source in space, waves of electromagnetic disturbance,
entirely similar those used by Signor Marconi for his wireless telegraphy,
are constantly reaching the earth. Besides Tesla quite a number of other
observers have been engaged in perfecting apparatus for receiving and
recording these vibrations, though few would go so far to consider them
actual messages from some extraterrestrial sender. Among that few,
however, we must certainly count Mr. Wendigee. Ever since 1898 he had
devoted himself almost entirely to this subject, and being a man of ample
means he had erected an observatory on the flanks of Monte Rosa, in a
position singularly adapted in every way for such observations.

My scientific attainments, I must admit, are not great, but so far as they
enable me to judge, Mr. Wendigee's contrivances for detecting and
recording any disturbances in the electromagnetic conditions of space are
singularly original and ingenious. And by a happy combination of
circumstances they were set up and in operation about two months before
Cavor made his first attempt to call up the earth. Consequently we have
fragments of his communication even from the beginning. Unhappily, they
are only fragments, and the most momentous of all the things that he had
to tell humanity - the instructions, that is, for the making of Cavorite,
if, indeed, he ever transmitted them - have throbbed themselves away
unrecorded into space. We never succeeded in getting a response back to
Cavor. He was unable to tell, therefore, what we had received or what we
had missed; nor, indeed, did he certainly know that any one on earth was
really aware of his efforts to reach us. And the persistence he displayed
in sending eighteen long descriptions of lunar affairs - as they would be
if we had them complete - shows how much his mind must have turned back
towards his native planet since he left it two years ago.

You can imagine how amazed Mr. Wendigee must have been when he discovered
his record of electromagnetic disturbances interlaced by Cavor's
straightforward English. Mr. Wendigee knew nothing of our wild journey
moonward, and suddenly - this English out of the void!

It is well the reader should understand the conditions under which it
would seem these messages were sent. Somewhere within the moon Cavor
certainly had access for a time to a considerable amount of electrical
apparatus, and it would seem he rigged up - perhaps furtively - a
transmitting arrangement of the Marconi type. This he was able to operate
at irregular intervals: sometimes for only half an hour or so, sometimes
for three or four hours at a stretch. At these times he transmitted his
earthward message, regardless of the fact that the relative position of
the moon and points upon the earth's surface is constantly altering. As a
consequence of this and of the necessary imperfections of our recording
instruments his communication comes and goes in our records in an
extremely fitful manner; it becomes blurred; it "fades out" in a
mysterious and altogether exasperating way. And added to this is the fact
that he was not an expert operator; he had partly forgotten, or never
completely mastered, the code in general use, and as he became fatigued he
dropped words and misspelt in a curious manner.

Altogether we have probably lost quite half of the communications he made,
and much we have is damaged, broken, and partly effaced. In the abstract
that follows the reader must be prepared therefore for a considerable
amount of break, hiatus, and change of topic. Mr. Wendigee and I are
collaborating in a complete and annotated edition of the Cavor record,
which we hope to publish, together with a detailed account of the
instruments employed, beginning with the first volume in January next.
That will be the full and scientific report, of which this is only the
popular transcript. But here we give at least sufficient to complete the
story I have told, and to give the broad outlines of the state of that
other world so near, so akin, and yet so dissimilar to our own.