Mizora, by Mary E. Bradley Lane

Chapter 10

I had begun to feel an intense longing to return to my own country, but it was accompanied by a desire, equally as strong, to carry back to that woe-burdened land some of the noble lessons and doctrines I had learned in this. I saw no means of doing it that seemed so available as a companion, — a being, born and bred in an atmosphere of honor and grandly humane ideas and actions.

My heart and my judgment turned to Wauna. She was endeared to me by long and gentle association. She was self-reliant and courageous, and possessed a strong will. Who, of all my Mizora acquaintances, was so well adapted to the service I required.

When I broached the subject to her, Wauna expressed herself as really pleased with the idea; but when we went to the Preceptress, she acknowledged a strong reluctance to the proposition. She said:

“Wauna can form no conception of the conditions of society in your country. They are far, very far, behind our own. They will, I fear, chafe her own nature more than she can improve theirs. Still, if I thought she could lead your people into a broader intelligence, and start them on the way upward to enlightenment and real happiness, I would let her go. The moment, however, that she desires to return she must be aided to do so.”

I pledged myself to abide by any request the Preceptress might make of me. Wauna’s own inclinations greatly influenced her mother, and finally we obtained her consent. Our preparations were carefully made. The advanced knowledge of chemistry in Mizora placed many advantages in our way. Our boat was an ingenious contrivance with a thin glass top that could be removed and folded away until needed to protect us from the rigors of the Arctic climate.

I had given an accurate description of the rapids that would oppose us, and our boat was furnished with a motive power sufficient to drive us through them at a higher rate of speed than what they moved at. It was built so as to be easily converted into a sled, and runners were made that could be readily adjusted. We were provided with food and clothing prepared expressly for the severe change to and rigors of the Arctic climate through which we must pass.

I was constantly dreading the terrors of that long ice-bound journey, but the Preceptress appeared to be little concerned about it. When I spoke of its severities, she said for us to observe her directions, and we should not suffer. She asked me if I had ever felt uncomfortable in any of the air-ship voyages I had taken, and said that the cold of the upper regions through which I had passed in their country was quite as intense as any I could meet within a lower atmosphere of my own.

The newspapers had a great deal to say about the departure of the Preceptress’ daughter on so uncertain a mission, and to that strange land of barbarians which I represented. When the day arrived for our departure, immense throngs of people from all parts of the country lined the shore, or looked down upon us from their anchored air-ships.

The last words of farewell had been spoken to my many friends and benefactors. Wauna had bidden a multitude of associates good-bye, and clasped her mother’s hand, which she held until the boat parted from the shore. Years have passed since that memorable parting, but the look of yearning love in that Mizora mother’s eyes haunts me still. Long and vainly has she watched for a boat’s prow to cleave that amber mist and bear to her arms that vision of beauty and tender love I took away from her. My heart saddens at the thought of her grief and long, long waiting that only death will end.

We pointed the boat’s prow toward the wide mysterious circle of amber mists, and then turned our eyes for a last look at Mizora. Wauna stood silent and calm, earnestly gazing into the eyes of her mother, until the shore and the multitude of fair faces faded like a vision of heaven from our views.

“O beautiful Mizora!” cried the voice of my heart. “Shall I ever again see a land so fair, where natures so noble and aims so lofty have their abiding place? Memory will return to you though my feet may never again tread your delightful shores. Farewell, sweet ideal land of my Soul, of Humanity, farewell!”

My thoughts turned to that other world from which I had journeyed so long. Would the time ever come when it, too, would be a land of universal intelligence and happiness? When the difference of nations would be settled by argument instead of battle? When disease, deformity and premature death would be unknown? When locks, and bolts and bars would be useless?

I hoped so much from the personal influence of Wauna. So noble, so utterly unconscious of wrong, she must surely revolutionize human nature whenever it came in contact with her own.

I pictured to myself my own dear land — dear, despite its many phases of wretchedness — smiling in universal comfort and health. I imagined its political prisons yawning with emptiness, while their haggard and decrepit and sorrowful occupants hobbled out into the sunshine of liberty, and the new life we were bringing to them. Fancy flew abroad on the wings of hope, dropping the seeds of progress wherever it passed.

The poor should be given work, and justly paid for it, instead of being supported by charity. The charity that had fostered indolence in its mistaken efforts to do good, should be employed to train poverty to skillful labor and economy in living. And what a world of good that one measure would produce! The poor should possess exactly the same educational advantages that were supplied to the rich. In this one measure, if I could only make it popular, I would see the golden promise of the future of my country. “Educate your poor and they will work out their own salvation. Educated Labor can dictate its rights to Capital.”

How easy of accomplishment it all seemed to me, who had seen the practical benefits arising to a commonwealth that had adopted these mottoes. I doubted not that the wiser and better of my own people would aid and encourage me. Free education would lead to other results.

Riches should be accumulated only by vast and generous industries that reached a helping hand to thousands of industrious poor, instead of grinding them out of a few hundred of poorly-paid and over-worked artisans. Education in the hands of the poor would be a powerful agent with which they would alleviate their own condition, and defend themselves against oppression and knavery.

The prisons should be supplied with schools as well as work-rooms, where the intellect should be trained and cultivated, and where moral idiocy, by the stern and rigorous law of Justice to Innocence, should be forced to deny itself posterity.

No philanthropical mind ever spread the wings of its fancy for a broader flight.


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