Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Rough Riders On Mars! - Chapter 5 – Visiting The City

Chapter 5 – Visiting The City
I awoke early the next morning, quite refreshed and ready to explore my new surroundings. I knew that the men that traveled with me would also want to visit the town, so first I arranged their leave. I kept the men in the groups I organized on the trip out. To these I assigned two from the garrison; they would act as escorts for the new arrivals. Each group was to take a three hour excursion into town. This schedule would give the men a taste of their new home without giving them too much time to get into trouble.
Having made the arrangements for the men, I prepared myself for a visit to the Mayor of Ceraunius. Of course Mayor is not the Martian title. It isn’t really a good translation of the title. However, it will give the reader an idea the man’s job. I decided to wear a civilian suit to the meeting as I wished to appear congenial,  since only half of my command ( 1 and ½ companies) was on station.
At ten a.m. I set off with my translator, Professor August Hjalmar Edgren and an escort of five riflemen. Professor Edgren is a native of Sweden who joined the 99th New York Regiment as a lieutenant during the Civil War. He is fluent in a number of Earth languages as well as common Martian and the local variations around Ceraunius. The Professor and I got along quite well during my stay and became good friends.
As we walked into town, I got my first look at the Martians. As a rule, they are thin and small
framed.They appear slightly taller than the average earthman, an appearance that is accentuated by their thin build. The face is oblong, with oriental eyes and an aquiline nose. The ears look to be a normal human shape for the lobe, but the top of the ear comes to an acute point. The skin color is a pale green, the eyes have a base of yellow with an iris of red, and the hair is golden or honey blonde.
The dress of the common man is a simple kilt, though more of the ancient Egyptian style than the Scottish. It is secured about the waist with a belt and hangs down to just above the knee. The female’s garment reminds me of those seen on the ancient Greek statues. It is sleeveless and may be hung from one or both shoulders and is bound about the high waist with a ribbon or belt. The garments of both sexes come in a wide variety of colors. All footwear consists of a thin sandal.
The civil authorities wear tight fitting trousers and long sleeved shirts with a very wide belt around the midsection. They wear a cowl over their heads from which only their face protrudes. The cowl covers the neck and part or all of the shoulders. Finally, they wear a thick soled shoe or boot.
The architecture of the city is monotonously the same. Invariably, each building consists of four square based towers that taper gradually to the roof on each corner, connected by corridors. This left an open courtyard in the middle of each building. Doors are in the center of each tower, flanked by windows. The windows in the corridors are high up on the wall and can only provide light into the corridor. There are parapet walls on both the towers and the corridors. The walls are very thick, causing the windows and doors to be set back from the exterior wall face. This restricts the visibility from the windows. Colors range from a pastel pink, to orange, or mauve.
 We passed through the residential district and into the commercial district. Most shops were divided into two sections. One tower on the street contained high end merchandise for the upper classes. The other tower contained goods for the masses. Street stalls were put up in front of the common shops, giving the street the look and feel of an Arab bazaar. The remainder of the building was used as a workshop or residence.
We entered the government district, though there was no way to tell other than small plaques near the doors. Of course, these signs were written in the Martian script, so I could not make heads or tails of them. As we penetrated deeper into the civil district, I noted that some buildings had guards posted at the doors. I asked the Professor about this, and he told me that the more important offices were protected by the military. I noted that the soldiers dressed no differently than the ordinary man, other than a sword and perhaps another weapon. We turned to a doorway and Professor Edgren addressed the guards. One of the guards turned and went inside.

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