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"Wonderful! Wonderful!" he ejaculated enthusiastically, when the
black dome was filled with twinkling stars. He leaned for a long
time against the parapet, listening to the music from the streets
below, and watching the flying-machines with their vari-colored
lights rise from the little parks at the intersection of the
streets and dart away over the roofs like big fireflies. Then
he began to feel sleepy, and, going back to his chambers, he

When he awoke the next morning, the rosy glow of the sun was
shining in at his windows. On rising he was surprised to find a
delectable breakfast spread on a table in his sitting-room.

"Treating me like a lord, any way," he said drily. "I can't say I
dislike the thing as a whole." When he had satisfied his sharp
hunger he went out into a corridor and seeing an elevator he
entered it and went down to the throne-room. The king was just
leaving his throne, but seeing Thorndyke he turned to him with a

"How did you sleep?" he asked.

"Well, indeed," replied Thorndyke, with a low bow.

"I cannot talk to you now. I intended to, but I have promised my
people a 'War of the Elements' to-day and am busy. You will enjoy
it, I trust."

"I am sure of it, your Majesty."

"Well, be about the palace, for it is a good point from which to
view the display."

With these words he turned away and the Englishman, as if drawn
there by the memory of his last conversation with Bernardino,
sought the retreat where he had bidden her good-night. He sat down
on the seat they had occupied, and gave himself over to delightful
reveries about her beauty and loveliness of nature. Looking up
suddenly he saw a pair of white hands part the palm leaves in
front of him and the subject of his thoughts emerged into view.

She wore a regal gown and beautiful silken head-dress set with
fine gems, and gave him a warm glance of friendly greeting.

"I half hoped to find you here," she said, blushing modestly under
his ardent gaze; "that is, I knew you would not know where to go -
---" She paused, her face suffused with blushes.

"I did not hope to find you here," he said, coming to her aid
gallantly, "but it was a delight to sit here where I last saw

She blushed even deeper, and a pleased look flashed into her eyes.
"It was important that I should see you this morning," she
continued, with a womanly desire to disguise her own feeling. "I
wanted to tell you where to meet me when the storm begins."

"Where?" he asked.

"On the roof of the palace, near the stairs leading down to your
chambers. At first it will be very dark, and it is then that we
must get out of sight of the palace. No other flying-machines will
be in the air, and Captain Tradmos thinks, if we are very careful,
we can get away safely before the display of lightning."

"If we find my friend what can we do with him?"

She hesitated a moment, a look of perplexity on her face, then she
said: "We can bring him back and keep him hidden in your chambers
till some better arrangement can be made. We shall think of some
expedient before long, but at present he must be saved from

Thorndyke attempted to draw her to a seat beside him, but she
held back. "No," she said resolutely, "it would never do for us
to be seen together. If my father should suspect anything now,
all hope would be lost."

Thorndyke reluctantly released her hand.

"You are right, I beg your pardon," he said humbly. "I shall meet
you promptly. Of course I want to save poor Johnston, but the
delight of being with you again, even for a moment, so
intoxicates me that I forget even my duty to him."

After she left him he wandered out in the streets along the busy
thoroughfares, and into the beautiful parks, the flowers and
foliage changing color as each new hour dawned. The fragrance of
the flowers delighted his sense of smell, and the luscious fruits
hung from vine and tree in great abundance.

He was impatient for the time to arrive at which he was to meet
the princess. After awhile he noticed the people closing the shops
and booths, and in holiday dress going to the parks and public
squares. He hastened to the palace. The great rotunda and the
throne-room were energetically astir. Everybody wore rich apparel
and was talking of the coming fete. The king was on his throne
surrounded by his men of science. In a cluster of ladies in court
dress, the Englishman recognized Bernardino. Catching his eye, she
looked startled for an instant, and, then, with a furtive glance
at the king, she swept her eyes back to Thorndyke and raised them
significantly toward his chambers. He understood, and his quick
movement was his reply. He turned immediately to an elevator that
was going up, and entered it. Again he was alone on the palace
roof. The color of the sunlight looked so natural that he studied
it closely to see if he could not detect something artificial in
its appearance, but in vain. He found that it did not pain his
eyes to look at the sun steadily. He took from his pocket a small
sunglass, and focussed the rays on his hand, but the heat was not
intensified sufficiently to burn him.

Just then he heard a loud blast of a trumpet in a tall tower to
the left of the palace. It seemed a momentous signal. The jostling
crowds in the streets below suddenly stood motionless. Every eye
was raised to the sky. Not a sound broke the stillness. Following
the glances of the crowd a few minutes later, Thorndyke noticed a
dark cloud rising in the west, and spreading along the horizon. A
feeling of awe came over him as it gradually increased in volume,
and, in vast black billows, began to roll up toward the sun.

Suddenly out of the stillness came a faraway rumble like a
fusillade of cannon, now dying down low, again reaching such a
height that it pained the ears. Belated flying- machines darted
across the sky here and there, like storm-frightened birds, but
they soon settled to earth. Every eye was on the cloud which was
now gashed with dazzling, vivid, electric flashes. Thorndyke
looked over the vast roof. He was alone. He walked to the western
parapet to get a broader view.

The clouds had increased till almost a third of the heavens were
obscured by the madly whirling blackness. There was a rumble in
the cloud, or beyond it, like thunder, and yet it was not, unless
thunder can be attuned, for the sound was like the music of a
great orchestra magnified a thousand-fold. The grand harmony died
down. There was a blinding flash of electricity in the clouds, and
the Englishman involuntarily covered his eyes with his hands. When
he looked again the blackness was covering the sun. For a moment
its disk showed blood-red through the fringe of the cloud and
then disappeared. Total darkness fell on everything.

The silence was profound. The very air seemed stagnant.

Then the wind overhead, by some unseen force, was lashed into
fury, and all the sky was filled with whirlpools of deeper
blackness. Suddenly there was a flash of soft golden light; this
was followed by streams of pink, of blue and of purple till the
whole heavens were hung with banners, flags, and rain-bows of
flame. Again darkness fell, and it seemed all the deeper after the
gorgeous scene which had preceded it. Thorndyke strained his sight
to detect something moving below, but nothing could be seen, and
no sound came up from the motionless crowds.

Behind him he heard a soft footstep on the stone tiling. It drew
nearer. A hand was being carefully slid along the parapet. The
hand reached him and touched his arm.

It was the princess. "Ah, I have at last found you," she
whispered, "I saw you in the lightning, but lost you again."

He put his arm round her and drew her into his embrace. He tried
to speak, but uttered only an inarticulate sound.

"I could not possibly come earlier," she apologized, nestling
against him so closely that he could feel the quick and excited
beating of her heart. "My father kept me with him till only a
moment ago. Captain Tradmos will be here soon."

"When do we start?" he asked.

"That is the trouble," she replied. "We had counted on getting
away in the darkness, before the display of lightning, but there
is more danger now. If our flying-machine were noticed the search-
lights would be turned on us and we would be discovered at once."

"But even if we get safely away in the darkness when could we

"Oh, that would be easy," she replied. "As soon as the fete is
over, commerce will be resumed and the air will be filled with
air-ships that have been delayed in their regular business, and,
in the disguises which I have for us both, we could come back
without rousing suspicion. We could alight in Winter Park and
return home later."

"What is Winter Park?"

"You have not seen it? You must do so; it is one of the wonders of
Alpha. It is a vast park enclosed with high walls and covered with
a roof of glass. Inside the snow falls, and we have sleighing and
coasting and lakes of ice for skating. It was an invention of the
king. The snowstorms there are beautiful."

Thorndyke's reply was drowned in a harmonious explosion like that
of tuned cannon; this was followed by the chimes of great bells
which seemed to swing back and forth miles overhead.

"Listen!" whispered Bernardino, "father calls it 'musical
thunder,' and he declares that it is produced in no other country
but this."

"It is not; he is right." And the heart of the Englishman was
stirred by deep emotion. He had never dreamed that anything could
so completely chain his fancy and elevate his imagination as what
he heard. The musical clangor died down. The strange harmony grew
more entrancing as it softened. Then the whole eastern sky began
to flush with rosy, shimmering light.

"My father calls this the 'Ideal Dawn of Day,'" whispered
Bernardino. "See the faint golden halo near the horizon; that is
where the sun is supposed to be."

"How is it done?" asked the Englishman.

"Few of our people know. It is a secret held only by the king and
half a dozen scientists. The whole thing, however, is operated by
two men in a room in the dome of the palace. The musician is a
young German who was becoming the wonder of the musical world
when father induced him to come to us. I have met him. He says he
has been thoroughly happy here. He lives on music. He showed me
the instrument he used to play, a little thing he called a violin,
and its tones could not reach beyond the limits of a small room.
He laughs at it now and says the instrument that father gave him
to play on has strings drawn from the centre of the earth to the
stars of heaven."

The rose-light had spread over the horizon and climbed almost to
the zenith, and with the dying booming and gentle clangor it began
to fade till all was dark again.

"Captain Tradmos ought to be here now," continued the princess,
glancing uneasily toward the stairway. "We may not have so good an
opportunity as this."

Ten minutes went by.

"Surely, something has gone wrong," whispered Bernardino. "I have
never seen the darkness last so long as this; besides, can't you
hear the muttering of the people?"

Thorndyke acknowledged that he did. He was about to add something
else, but was prevented by a loud blast from the trumpet in the

Bernardino shrank from him and fell to trembling.

"What is the matter?" he asked.
"The trumpet!" she gasped, "something awful has happened!"

A moment of profound silence, then the murmuring of the crowd rose
sullenly like the moaning of a rising storm; a search-light
flashed up in the gloom and swept its uncertain stream from point
to point, but it died out. Another and another shone for an
instant in different parts of the city, but they all failed.

"Something awful has happened," repeated Bernardino, as if to
herself; "the lights will not burn!"

"Had we not better go down?" asked Thorndyke anxiously, excited by
her unusual perturbation.

For answer she mutely drew him to the eastern parapet. Far away in
the east there still lingered a faint hint of pink, but all over
the whole landscape darkness rested.

"See!" she exclaimed, pointing upward, "the clouds are thinning
over the sun, and yet there is no light. What can be the matter?"

At that juncture they heard soft steps on the roof and a voice

"Bernardino! Princess Bernardino!"

"It is Tradmos," she ejaculated gladly, then she called out

"Tradmos! Tradmos!"

"Here!" the voice said, and a figure loomed up before them. It was
the captain. He was panting violently, as if he had been running.

"What is it?" she asked, clasping his arm.

"The sun has gone out," he announced.

A groan escaped her lips and she swayed into Thorndyke's arms.

"The clouds are thinning over the sun, yet there is no light. The
king is excited; he fears a panic!"

"Has such a thing never happened?" asked Thorndyke.

"An hundred years ago; then thousands lost their lives. As soon as
the people suspect the cause of the delay they will go mad with

"What can we do?" asked the princess, recovering her self-

"Nothing, wait!" replied Tradmos. "This is as safe a place as you
could find. Perhaps the trouble may be averted. Look!"

The disk of the veiled sun was aglow with a faintly trembling
light; but it went out. The silence was profound. The populace
seemed unable to grasp the situation, but when the light had
flickered over the black face of the sun once more and again
expired, a sullen murmur rose and grew as it passed from
lip to lip.

It became a threatening roar, broken by an occasional cry of
pain and a dismal groan of terror. There was a crash as if a
mountain had been burst by explosives.

"The swinging bridge has been thrown down!" said Tradmos.

Light after light flashed up in different parts of the city, but
they were so small and so far apart that they seemed to add to the
darkness rather than to lessen it.

"The moon, it will rise!" cried the princess.

"It cannot," said Tradmos in his beard, "at least not for several

"They will kill my father," she said despondently, "they always
hold him responsible for any accident."

"They cannot reach him," consoled Tradmos. "He is safe for the
present at least."

"Is it possible to make the repairs needed?"

"I don't know. When the accident happened long ago the sun was
just rising."

"Has it stopped?"

"I think not; it has simply gone out; the electric connection has,
in some way, been cut off."

The tumult seemed to have extended to the very limits of the city,
and was constantly increasing. The smashing of timber and the
falling of heavy stones were heard near by.

Tradmos leaned far over the parapet. "They are coming toward us!"
he said; "they intend to destroy the palace; we must try to get
down, but we shall meet danger even there."

Chapter XIII.

Johnston and Branasko looked down at the great ball of light
below them in silent wonder. Johnston was the first to speak. He
pointed to the four massive cables which supported the sun at
each corner of the platform and extended upward till they were

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