Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/165

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already there on the last day of May. The most conspicuous of them lay between Noachis and Hellas, in the Mare Australe. It began in the great polar bay, and thence traversed the Mare Erythræum to the hourglass Sea (Syrtis Major). The next most conspicuous one started in the other bay, and came down between Hellas and Ausonia. Although these straits were distinguishably darker than the seas through which they passed, the seas themselves were then at their darkest. The fact that these straits traversed the seas suffices to raise a second doubt as to the genuineness of seas; the first suspicion as to their character—coming from their being a little off color; not so blue, that is, as what we practically know to be water, the polar sea—finding thus corroboration. It will appear later that in all probability the straits themselves were impostors, and that neither seas nor straits were water.

The appearance of things at this initial stage of the Martian Nile-like inundation last June was most destructive to modern maps of Mars, for all the markings between the south polar cap and the continental coast-line seemed with one consent to have, as nearly as might be, obliterated themselves.

It was impossible to fix any definite boundaries to the south temperate chain of islands, so indistinguishably did the light areas and the