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A VOYAGE IN SPACE

naturally takes them very much by surprise; while if they have been told, the tale has often come from the mouths of their superstitious priests, who tell it in their own way and for their own purposes. In India an eclipse is a specially good time during which to bathe in sacred waters; certain sacred pools used to receive such masses of bathers at an eclipse that hundreds of them were suffocated; but they died in ecstasy, believing the manner of death to be such as would ensure eternal bliss. Our careful English rule has changed all this by passing the bathers with great rapidity as through a turnstile, down into the water, and out again the other side quick, so that the next person may come—but even our tyranny has never contemplated stopping the bathing. Animals have no one to instruct them beforehand and are taken by surprise. In the next lecture we will have the kinematograph, and you will see how the hens go to roost when totality comes on and come running out after it is over. Even astronomers, who know exactly what to expect, feel the strain, especially in these last few minutes when there is nothing to do but wait, thinking over for the hundredth time whether everything is in exact readiness. Some of them may have dreamt the night before that the eclipse is beginning and they have nothing ready for it, and I can assure you that is a very distressing form of nightmare. But here you see we are all ready, and in a few seconds more the total eclipse will begin. I will ask you to keep silence, please, so that the time-caller and the astronomer's instructions may be clearly heard. Now!