Continued from About Farksolia, part 1.
The Farksolians were great people for inventions. Almost every one of their thirty-six hour days they invented something. One of the most important days was when one invented the marvelous mail system that they had. In the middle of the city was an electric mail station. From it ran underground passages to each house in the city. The person that wished to send a letter or a message, writes it out, puts it in the passage, pushes an electric button, and off shoots the box through the passage, to the mail station. The man which receives the letter takes it out of the passage and sends it along the underground passage which leads to the house to whom the letter or package is addressed. In the mail system there is a great closet full of cabinets in which are piles of boxes, so that if one was lost it was easy to replace it, and at the station the men were manufacturing them all the time, for they were lost very often. The envelopes to the letters were very varied indeed. For letters containing valuable things the envelopes were sometimes of metal. Though this precaution was not necessary, considering the fact that none of the men at the mail station were cheats, for they were thoroughly tried out by the queen before they were allowed to go into the business. For notes containing less valuable things are made out of hard beautiful wood, and for notes containing hardly anything valuable the envelopes are made simply of the papery substance that the notes are written on.
The wires of the mail system run along the ground and people walking very often come upon little boxes running along the wires. You usually step over six or seven wires in a single step. The boxes are made of metal. In the winter, when the snow blocks up the passage of the boxes the wires are hoisted from the ground by means of poles.
Another important invention was that of the writing instrument, which, of course, came before the mail system. The invention of the writing instrument was like this: It was a hollow piece of wood sharpened down to a point, and filled with thick, green sap of a certain tree, which is used for ink. Up on the end of this pen that you hold there is a small rubber button, and to wet the sharpened end of the pen you press this button a little and the ink trickles down over the point by means of a little hole just above it. Then when the point gets dry again just press the button again. Sometimes these pens are made of metal but that is quite rare.
The snows of Farksolia have many peculiarities. To begin with snow cannot rest on the trees, and the reason for this is because the sap of the trees is unusually warm and the snow melts away from the warmth of it when it touches the branches through which the sap flows. Also the snow cannot rest under the trees for the outspreading branches throw down a great heat to the ground. Therefore the mountains look much greener in winter than they would otherwise though of course not as green as they do in summer. The leaves of the trees do not fall much in winter and this is another reason for making the trees greener in summer, and even then where they fall vines which grow green in winter twin around the trunks and limbs and take the place of the true leaves of the trees. Though on the great plain the snow level sometimes rises to twenty feet and the Farksolians from Sheheritzade start when the first snow falls and go across the great ocean to the plain in the same machine that they use for coming to the earth, for the sake of the snow. Then when the snows stop falling the Farksolians take a machine which they have hidden on the plain and fly back over the ocean to the city. This journey they can take in about two days.
The Farksolian trees are very peculiar, as I said before most of them are warm-sapped. Nature has planed quite definitely for a green winter. Then there is a special variety of warm-sapped tree and it is this that has the thick dark sap which is used for writing. Though, of course, it has to be cooled before it is used for that purpose. Then there is danger of getting it hard, and when this is done there are two ways to cure it. One is to heat it up and melt it, after which you have to be careful again, about not letting it get hard when it is cooled, and two is to put a bit of water in it, fresh water. Of course, this thins it out more or less, and it is then not so good for writing purposes. But when it is put in a vial with a tight metal cork it stays in the same condition. Then there is another kind of tree whose sap, after going through many processes serves as salt, being rather bitter. It is warm at first, then it is hardened and ground into fine powder. Then a certain food is dipped into it to be eaten.
The foot described is a plant with a stalk almost an inch in diameter. When it is peeled and appears on the food board, anybody would say, “This is the same old food,” and it does look much like celery. Then you dip it in the “salt” from the trees, bite into it, and instead of its being like celery as you supposed it has a funnel down the middle full of red sweet juice, delicious. One of the favorite foods in Farksolia was a fruit. The Farksolians loved fruit. One of the fruits, their favorite, was grown on a beautiful tree with pink and white blossoms, very delicate looking. Then in the fall the blossoms drop off and a beautiful fruit appeared in their place. At first they are green, then turn to a beautiful frosty colour. And the rind looks much like frost, for when you look at it carefully you see all sorts of delicate little patterns all worked in silver. Then when the silver rind is peeled carefully off it revealed silver pulp, and little boxes of the core which are filled with purple and red juices, of all flavors and all sweet. The silver rind is cooked and drunk. Then another food, is a rough brown nut which is very common in the district of Sheheritzade, with a white kernel very sweet. Something like our Brazil Nut. They have a fruit with a yellow soft rind, inside of which is the juiciest pulp of any other fruit. Then there also is a fruit in a green rind with a little pale hard stone, inside of which is a sweet white kernel.
To be continued in About Farksolia, part 3.