Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/185

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131
CANALS

appearance that, had we possessed our present knowledge of the planet's physical condition before, we might almost have predicted what we see as criterion of the presence of living beings. What confronts us is this:—

When the great continental areas, the reddish-ochre portions of the disk, are attentively examined in sufficiently steady air, their desert-like ground is seen to be traversed by a network of fine, straight, dark lines. The lines start from points on the coast of the blue-green regions, commonly well-marked bays, and proceed directly to what seem centres in the middle of the continent, since most surprisingly they meet there other lines that have come to the same spot with apparently a like determinate intent. And this state of things is not confined to any one part of the planet, but takes place all over the reddish-ochre regions.

The lines appear either absolutely straight from one end to the other, or curved in an equally uniform manner. There is nothing haphazard in the look of any of them. Plotting upon a globe betrays them to be arcs of great circles almost invariably, even the few outstanding exceptions seeming to be but polygonal combinations of the same. Their most instantly conspicuous characteristic is this hopeless lack of happy irregularity. They are, each and all, direct to a degree.