The Radio Planet
“It’s too bad that Myles Cabot can’t see this!” I exclaimed, as my eye fell on the following item:
SIGNALS FROM MARS FAIL TO REACH HARVARD
Cambridge, Massachusetts, Wednesday. The Harvard College Radio Station has for several weeks been in receipt of fragmentary signals of extraordinarily long wave-length, Professor Hammond announced yesterday. So far as it has been possible to test the direction of the source of these waves, it appears that the direction has a twenty-four hour cycle, thus indicating that the origin of these waves is some point outside the earth.
The university authorities will express no opinion as to whether or not these messages come from Mars.
Myles, alone of all the radio engineers of my acquaintance, was competent to surmount these difficulties, and thus enable the Cambridge savants to receive with clearness the message from another planet.
Twelve months ago he would have been available, for he was then quietly visiting at my farm, after five earth-years spent on the planet Venus, where, by the aid of radio, he had led the Cupians to victory over their oppressors, a human-brained race of gigantic black ants. He had driven the last ant from the face of continental Poros, and had won and wed the Princess Lilla, who had borne him a son to occupy the throne of Cupia.
While at my farm Cabot had rigged up a huge radio set and a matter-transmitting apparatus, with which he had (presumably) shot himself back to Poros on the night of the big October storm which had wrecked his installation.
I showed the newspaper item to Mrs. Farley, and lamented on Cabot’s absence. Her response opened up an entirely new line of thought.
Said she: “Doesn’t the very fact that Mr. Cabot isn’t here suggest to you that this may be a message, not from Mars, but from him? Or perhaps from the Princess Lilla, inquiring about him in case he has failed in his attempted return?”
That had never occurred to me! How stupid!
“What had I better do about it, if anything?” I asked. “Drop Professor Hammond a line?”
But Mrs. Farley was afraid that I would be taken for a crank.
That evening, when I was over in town, the clerk in the drug store waylaid me to say that there had been a long-distance phone call for me, and would I please call a certain Cambridge number.
So, after waiting an interminable time in the stuffy booth with my hands full of dimes, nickels, and quarters, I finally got my party.
“This is Professor Kellogg, O. D. Kellogg,” the voice replied.
It was my friend of the Harvard math faculty, the man who had analyzed the measurements of the streamline projectile in which Myles Cabot had shot to earth the account of the first part of his adventures on Venus. Some further adventures Myles had told me in person during his stay on my farm.
“Professor Hammond thinks that he is getting Mars on the air,” the voice continued.
“Yes,” I replied. “I judged as much from what I read in this morning’s paper. But what do you think?”
Kellogg’s reply gave my sluggish mind the second jolt which it had received that day.
“Well,” he said, “in view of the fact that I am one of the few people among your readers who take your radio stories seriously, I think that Hammond is getting Venus. Can you run up here and help me try and convince him?”
And so it was that I took the early boat next morning for Boston, and had lunch with the two professors.
As a result of our conference, a small committee of engineers returned with me to Edgartown that evening for the purpose of trying to repair the wrecked radio set which Myles Cabot had left on my farm.
They utterly failed to comprehend the matter-transmitting apparatus, and so—after the fallen tower had been reerected and the rubbish cleared away—they had devoted their attention to the restoration of the conversational part of the set.
To make a long story short, we finally restored it, with the aid of some old blue prints of Cabot’s which Mrs. Farley, like Swiss Family Robinson’s wife, produced from somewhere. I was the first to try the earphones, and was rewarded by a faint “bzt-bzt” like the song of a north woods blackfly.
In conventional radioese, I repeated the sounds to the Harvard group:
“Dah-dit-dah-dit dah-dah-dit-dah. Dah-dit-dah-dit dah-dah-dit-dah. Dah-dit-dah-dit dah-dah-dit-dah. Dah-dit-dit dit. Dah-dit-dah-dit dit-dah dah-dit dit dit dah-dah-dah dah. Dah-dit-dah-dit dit-dah dah-dit-dit-dit dah-dah-dah dah. Dah-dit-dah-dit dit-dah dah-dit-dit-dit-dah dah-dah-dah.”
A look of incredulity spread over their faces. Again came the same message, and again I repeated it.
“You’re spoofing us!” one of them shouted. “Give me the earphones.”
And he snatched them from my head. Adjusting them on his own head, he spelled out to us, “C-Q C-Q C-Q D-E C-A-B-O-T C-A-B-O-T C-A-B-O-T—”
Seizing the big leaf-switch, he threw it over. The motor-generator began to hum. Grasping the key, the Harvard engineer ticked off into space: “Cabot Cabot Cabot D-E—”
“Has this station a call letter?” he hurriedly asked me.
“Yes,” I answered quickly, “One-X-X-B.”
“One-X-X-B,” he continued the ticking “K.”
Interplanetary communication was an established fact at last! And not with Mars after all these years of scientific speculations. But what meant more to me was that I was again in touch with my classmate Myles Standish Cabot, the radio man.
The next day a party of prominent scientists, accompanied by a telegrapher and two stenographers, arrived at my farm.
During the weeks that followed there was recorded Myles’s own account of the amazing adventures on the planet Venus (or Poros, as its own inhabitants call it, ) which befell him upon his return there after his brief visit to the earth. I have edited those notes into the following coherent story.