Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/189

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135
CANALS

it is the systematic network of the whole that is most amazing. Each line not only goes with wonderful directness from one point to another, but at this latter spot it contrives to meet, exactly, another line which has come with like directness from quite a different direction. Nor do two only manage thus to rendezvous. Three, four, five, and even seven will similarly fall in on the same spot,—a gregariousness which, to a greater or less extent, finds effective possibility all over the surface of the planet. The disk is simply a network of such intersections. Sometimes a canal goes only from one intersection to another; more commonly it starts with right of continuation, and, after reaching the first rendezvous, goes on in unchanged course to several more.

The result is that the whole of the great reddish-ochre portions of the planet is cut up into a series of spherical triangles of all possible sizes and shapes. What their number may be lies quite beyond the possibility of count at present; for the better our own air, the more of them are visible. About four times as many as are down on Schiaparelli's chart of the same regions have been seen at Flagstaff. But, before proceeding further with a description of these Martian phenomena, the history of their discovery deserves to be sketched here, since it is as strange as the canals themselves.