I have been thus explicit in detailing the circumstances of my entrance into the land of Mizora, or, in other words, the interior of the earth, lest some incredulous person might doubt the veracity of this narrative.
It does seem a little astonishing that a woman should have fallen by accident, and without intention or desire, upon a discovery that explorers and scientists had for years searched for in vain. But such was the fact, and, in generosity, I have endeavored to make my accident as serviceable to the world in general, and Science in particular, as I could, by taking observations of the country, its climate and products, and especially its people.
I met with the greatest difficulty in acquiring their language. Accustomed to the harsh dialect of the North, my voice was almost intractable in obtaining their melodious accentuation. It was, therefore, many months before I mastered the difficulty sufficiently to converse without embarrassment, or to make myself clearly understood. The construction of their language was simple and easily understood, and in a short time I was able to read it with ease, and to listen to it with enjoyment. Yet, before this was accomplished, I had mingled among them for months, listening to a musical jargon of conversation, that I could neither participate in, nor understand. All that I could therefore discover about them during this time, was by observation. This soon taught me that I was not in a seminary — in our acceptance of the term — but in a College of Experimental Science. The ladies — girls I had supposed them to be — were, in fact, women and mothers, and had reached an age that with us would be associated with decrepitude, wrinkles and imbecility. They were all practical chemists, and their work was the preparation of food from the elements. No wonder that they possessed the suppleness and bloom of eternal youth, when the earthy matter and impurities that are ever present in our food, were unknown to theirs.
I also discovered that they obtained rain artificially when needed, by discharging vast quantities of electricity in the air. I discovered that they kept no cattle, nor animals of any kind for food or labor. I observed a universal practice of outdoor exercising; the aim seeming to be to develop the greatest capacity of lung or muscle. It was astonishing the amount of air a Mizora lady could draw into her lungs. They called it their brain stimulant, and said that their faculties were more active after such exercise. In my country, a cup of strong coffee, or some other agreeable beverage, is usually taken into the stomach to invigorate or excite the mind.
One thing I remarked as unusual among a people of such cultured taste, and that was the size of the ladies’ waists. Of all that I measured not one was less than thirty inches in circumference, and it was rare to meet with one that small. At first I thought a waist that tapered from the arm pits would be an added beauty, if only these ladies would be taught how to acquire it. But I lived long enough among them to look upon a tapering waist as a disgusting deformity. They considered a large waist a mark of beauty, as it gave a greater capacity of lung power; and they laid the greatest stress upon the size and health of the lungs. One little lady, not above five feet in height, I saw draw into her lungs two hundred and twenty-five cubic inches of air, and smile proudly when she accomplished it. I measured five feet and five inches in height, and with the greatest effort I could not make my lungs receive more than two hundred cubic inches of air. In my own country I had been called an unusually robust girl, and knew, by comparison, that I had a much larger and fuller chest than the average among women.
I noticed with greater surprise than anything else had excited in me, the marked absence of men. I wandered about the magnificent building without hindrance or surveillance. There was not a lock or bolt on any door in it. I frequented a vast gallery filled with paintings and statues of women, noble looking, beautiful women, but still — nothing but women. The fact that they were all blondes, singular as it might appear, did not so much impress me. Strangers came and went, but among the multitude of faces I met, I never saw a man’s.
In my own country I had been accustomed to regard man as a vital necessity. He occupied all governmental offices, and was the arbitrator of domestic life. It seemed, therefore, impossible to me for a country or government to survive without his assistance and advice. Besides, it was a country over which the heart of any man must yearn, however insensible he might be to beauty or female loveliness. Wealth was everywhere and abundant. The climate as delightful as the most fastidious could desire. The products of the orchards and gardens surpassed description. Bread came from the laboratory, and not from the soil by the sweat of the brow. Toil was unknown; the toil that we know, menial, degrading and harassing. Science had been the magician that had done away all that. Science, so formidable and austere to our untutored minds, had been gracious to these fair beings and opened the door to nature’s most occult secrets. The beauty of those women it is not in my power to describe. The Greeks, in their highest art, never rivalled it, for here was a beauty of mind that no art can represent. They enhanced their physical charms with attractive costumes, often of extreme elegance. They wore gems that flashed a fortune as they passed. The rarest was of a pale rose color, translucent as the clearest water, and of a brilliancy exceeding the finest diamond. Their voices, in song, could only be equaled by a celestial choir. No dryad queen ever floated through the leafy aisles of her forest with more grace than they displayed in every movement. And all this was for feminine eyes alone — and they of the most enchanting loveliness.
Among all the women that I met during my stay in Mizora — comprising a period of fifteen years — I saw not one homely face or ungraceful form. In my own land the voice of flattery had whispered in my ear praises of face and figure, but I felt ill-formed and uncouth beside the perfect symmetry and grace of these lovely beings. Their chief beauty appeared in a mobility of expression. It was the divine fire of Thought that illumined every feature, which, while gazing upon the Aphrodite of Praxitiles, we must think was all that the matchless marble lacked. Emotion passed over their features like ripples over a stream. Their eyes were limpid wells of loveliness, where every impulse of their natures were betrayed without reserve.
“It would be a paradise for man.”
I made this observation to myself, and as secretly would I propound the question:
“Why is he not here in lordly possession?”
In my world man was regarded, or he had made himself regarded, as a superior being. He had constituted himself the Government, the Law, Judge, Jury and Executioner. He doled out reward or punishment as his conscience or judgment dictated. He was active and belligerent always in obtaining and keeping every good thing for himself. He was indispensable. Yet here was a nation of fair, exceedingly fair women doing without him, and practising the arts and sciences far beyond the imagined pale of human knowledge and skill.
Of their progress in science I will give some accounts hereafter.
It is impossible to describe the feeling that took possession of me as months rolled by, and I saw the active employments of a prosperous people move smoothly and quietly along in the absence of masculine intelligence and wisdom. Cut off from all inquiry by my ignorance of their language, the singular absence of the male sex began to prey upon my imagination as a mystery. The more so after visiting a town at some distance, composed exclusively of schools and colleges for the youth of the country. Here I saw hundreds of children — and all of them were girls. Is it to be wondered at that the first inquiry I made, was:
“Where are the men?”
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