Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/191

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137
CANALS

gazed they appeared straighter, and he made out more. Lastly, toward the end of the year, he observed one evening what struck even him as a most startling phenomenon,—the twinning of one of the canals: two parallel canals suddenly showed where but a single one had showed before. The paralleling was so perfect that he suspected optical illusion. He could, however, discover none by changing his telescopes or eye-pieces. The phenomenon, apparently, was real.

At the next opposition he looked to see if by chance he should mark a repetition of the strange event, and went, as he tells us, from surprise to surprise; for one after another of his canals proceeded startlingly to become two, until some twenty of them had thus doubled. This capped the climax to his own wonderment, and, it is needless to add, to other people's incredulity; for nobody else had yet succeeded in seeing the canals at all, let alone seeing them double. Undeterred by the general skepticism, he confirmed at each fresh opposition his previous discoveries, which, in view of the fact that no one else did, tended in astronomical circles to an opposite result.

For nine years he labored thus alone, having his visions all to himself. It was not till 1886 that any one but he saw the canals. In April of that year Perrotin, at Nice, first did so. The