Page:Melbourne and Mars.djvu/6

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4
MELBOURNE AND MARS.

Nevertheless, I straightened out the curly, crumpled, dirty, dog-eared sheets, and laid them under the heaviest thing in my office—a box of electrodes and zincotypes, used in illustrating my various publications. After they had been here a couple of weeks, and got flattened, I took them up one day when I did not feel fit for heavier work, and began to turn them over, glancing at their contents here and there. It was not long before I saw that this diarist was either a monomaniac, a dreamer, or a man who had undergone a series of the strangest experiences that ever fell to the lot of man, and that in any case his story, if told, would be sure to attract more than mere local attention. For twenty-five years the man had either been living a dual life, spending his time upon two planets of our solar system, or he had been dreaming half the time one of the most vivid and consecutive dreams ever recorded.

My interest was now fully aroused. I read all his musty diaries in their cramped hand-writing and peculiar phraseology with avidity, and determined to make a careful study of the man, and to see him on several occasions in order to find out his mental condition, at the same time fully intending to work up his story, no matter whether he had dreamt it or experienced it. I made an appointment with him for an evening after business hours, and saw him on several occasions while condensing his diaries and preparing a rough draft of his story.

He is more than seventy years of age, is of medium stature, has a finely formed head, and a remarkably intelligent face. I liked him from the first. His appearance, though not striking, told of a thoughtful and truthful nature. He is not a pushing and enterprising man; not one who could make money, although he has had his chances, and has at times managed to get a couple of hundreds of pounds saved up for old age or a rainy day. The face is narrow at the bottom, wide at the top, and the brain is much more fully developed in the upper than the lower stories.

He has not much brain in the region of the selfish propensities, and has not much capacity for the management of financial matters. Self esteem is decidedly weak, and he has not sufficient firmness to take a decided stand and resist aggression. His moral brain is high and wide; he is full of charitable and kindly feeling; he is also religions in the broadest, best and most philosophical sense of the term. His affections are deep, strong and pure, like those of a good woman, and his integrity is beyond suspicion. For the last few years he has been employed in a subordinate capacity by a commercial firm. What little hair he has is very fine, and of the silvery white-