Page:Melbourne and Mars.djvu/48

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46
MELBOURNE AND MARS.

and books of the ages that are gone, can visit the observatories, of which we have many, and study the heavens by the aid of the most powerful telescopes to be found in the universe. I can dress as I please, and wherever my lot is cast the best of accommodation and provision is at my service. When I marry, if ever such an event should occur, my wife will have the same advantages. Seeing that such a favor has at this early period of my life been conferred upon me I will take care to be worthy of it. Already I can see many ways in which my discovery can be utilised. If I make myself thoroughly capable as a mechanic I shall be able to do much more than I can now. Still, no pupil who has gone through a course at Bertrand's technical school can complain of inability to use tools and understand mechanical operations, and his school is only one of thousands of similar ones.

I have not said much of our sports and games; but it must not be inferred that we have no play. Indeed, I question if there is any place in the solar system, at any race, where we can be beaten in the enjoyment of active sports and games. Public gymnasiums are very abundant, and men and women of all ages visit them. For a few years after she is married a woman has probably other duties to attend to, and does not frequent the gymnasiums, but she comes with her sons and daughters in a while and lets them see that the skill and strength of her youth have not quite departed. Probably we owe much of our activity, vigor, health and longevity to this kind of education. If we did not play we should not develop our muscles and become the well-knit and compact people that we are. For our work is so easy and light that it would not alone cause more than a very partial development. We have ball games of more than a dozen kinds; we have skating and ice dances, sleighing, sliding, hill shooting with small sleighs, upon which only two people can sit. We have dancing and archery and music—music to everything and everywhere. We have air sports. Sometimes a hundred flying fishes will take turns at performing difficult feats. These are generally little air boats built for the use of one person, though larger ones are sometimes brought into play. People are not allowed to use air boats until they have had plenty of practice in rapid movements, executed with great precision.

The swift descent is always one part of a programme of air sports. Twenty boats or so are placed in line, forty feet apart, so that their wings will not be liable to clash, at the height of a thousand feet. At a given signal an article is dropped from each, and each boat darts down in pursuit. The boat has to pass the falling body, and to go underneath and catch it. In a competition of this kind more than half will succeed, and first place is given to the one who catches his falling body the first and commences remounting. The successful competitors are placed in line again at a height