Page:Melbourne and Mars.djvu/33

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31
GASTON'S CLASS.

of a boy of nearly four years, each year counting almost double our three hundred and eighty-five days.

Winter twice as long as an earth winter, and more than twice as severe on a planet that receives only four-ninths as much heat and light as our own. No wonder that Charlie's mother and father are busy storing up food in the larder and getting out and airing the soft, warm winter clothing and out-door wraps. It is a busy time, but no one seems unhappy or anxious. All work cheerfully, as preparing for a season that brings its own pleasures.

Speaking of this approaching winter Jacob says:—"I can remember last winter quite well. The weather was very cold, and I was not allowed to be out of doors much. During part of it I was attending Hildreth's class. I remember that I used to slide on rough ice that had grass underneath it, and that we tumbled about and made merry. Our house was always warm, and so was the class-room, but the out-door life was very cold. If we were not running about and sliding we had to hurry indoors.

This winter I am going to have skates, and father has taken the flying fish back to the depôt, and got a sleigh in its place. I asked father who was going to draw the sleigh, and he pointed out a machine, underneath which he said would do that very easily and for any distance. In my waking hours I cannot understand these machines. They seem natural enough to my dreamlife. There must be some great force in the air-boat to move it at the speed at which it travels, carrying all of us and now the sleigh. It is not steam. It moves in silence, and never shows a trace of smoke or heat. I have never seen a coal or a piece of firewood; nothing is burnt. Mother touches a knob and we have a warm fire glowing in the stove, another and the room is beautifully lit, although there is no flame and no brilliant point of light visible. Many things appear more perfect in my dreamworld than in my waking one.

Hard frost has set in, snow has fallen. Early this morning my father told me we would try my new skates this afternoon if the weather did not get too cold. I hurried home from school, and we all had dinner, after which we got into the sleigh and all slid along over the white snow. We were not long in reaching the very lake into which I had almost dropped last summer. How different the scene, and yet how exhilarating. All is life and graceful motion. Thousands of skaters, of both sexes and all ages, are gliding rapidly and easily about, while a band discourses sweet and lively music on the shore. They all look happy, and all seem to enter into their enjoyments heartily, as if they were entirely free from suffering and care. The elder people, and there are many here, are just as bright and happy looking at the younger ones. Even those who sit in their sleighs and watch, and those who prefer walking to gliding have all the same happy look, a look that tells of content and happiness, of something more than the mere pleasure of the day.