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Selestor's Men of Atlantis, by Clara Iza von Ravn, [1937], at

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Institutions for the training of youth. Music. Arts. Industries. Some customs. Food.

Institutions for the training of the mind of youth were builded in a circle, neither high nor grand; and cubes of glass in bars of bronze gave light when storms or clouds the sky obscured.

A garden in this circle shaded o’er from summer's heat by branching palms gave place for exercise, and also for the education of those youths who sought to till the soil; for all was done by pupil-digging of the soil—the planting of the seed—the budding task, to set to foreign wood the home-grown shrub or tree.

Rare fruits, too, were in that circle grown and their progression from a wild and bitter fruit—a food for birds alone, was but a pleasant task for them whose minds were turned to secrets of the growth which nature knows.

Wise men from lands where war and strife prevailed came from afar to teach the art of war, and "statesmen" gave here their garnered lore of forming governments on plans humane and well endowed with all that makes a country great. Some with ambition, hoping soon to lead, bore well in mind the duties of instructors and others studied water navigation.

Plans were laid within the chambers of the "school of mines" to excavate from earth such riches as should make the world stare, dumb with astonishment.

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The art of shaping characters was but the work of time. At first the tongue Atlantis spake was barbarous, crude, the accent of the ignorant who ne’er had looked upon a written page. In time that barbarous tongue was softened, rounded out by words from priest or statesman who had sought of other lands the shore; of castaway on ship, or captive.

All the castaways were given welcome, that their tongue be taught to youth, with methods of their country. Many lands thus lent their methods to the shaping of the language—written speech—that in the years gave fame to old Atlantis. There the leech's skill was taught by one grown old in service mild to many—the service of the healer.

No rule for song was taught in great degree, for in that age men sang as sing the birds, their teacher but old Nature. Burst from throat such melody as heart did prompt.

Yet in the temples children of twelve years, none older, younger, once each day did sing in trained rhythm when high noon cast light within the circle marked upon each temple's floor; and in a garland stood they; fingers twined within the fingers of his fellows, slowly circling round the blaze of light. Within the sacred circle stood the youths and voices like the birds from forests depths pierced sunlight golden with their melody.

When reached that tender year ye number "twelve" they stood each noon and sang unto the gods. Old Phenox came to bless, the priests did teach each urchin lifting up his voice. That year of song was called the crossing of the threshold of the door of childhood. None might turn, reentering childhood's state again. And all their melody was as the note the captive bird sends forth when loosened from its thrall; for life stretched out before them,

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life and hope, the hope of youth, alas, too often drowned in bitter tears!

No child upon that isle so poor he might not taste the joy of knowledge; for the state, the kingdom later, claimed each child when born, and only guardians were the parents named. And so was carefully prepared each mind to farther bend the impulse to greater lore, and worked they all as for one common good when "land" or "country" was the subject for the best endeavor.

No language save their own the women early knew; it was decided wiser to withhold the knowledge gleaned by man, for woman was considered but a toy. A useful adjunct to the pride of man. Yet some proved willful and did gain much lore, all secretly. The priestcraft taught, and held in high esteem, the women of the land who knew of star directions—subtle voice of Nature—all which man might learn.

In the beginning laws were made to fit such disobedience—banishment from home, from husband, and another given in her stead; but later, when the priests did interpose a milder sentence was pronounced. It was that all who stole the knowledge fit for man alone—must don the manly garb. Yet ere the island sunk were many mothers teaching offspring arts, the sciences, and were not held accountable by law.

The arts? Ah, she—Atlantis—was the monarch of the earth in arts. Her carven figures rivalled life indeed! Pale marble spake to sense as flesh were there all animate, and subjects wrought in bronze spake from the temples vast whose paves were laid in symbols, marble flecked with golden groups of birds, or histories wrought in gold and metal fair that science had commingled.

Metal that the waves had cast no foul decay upon

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nor wrought a change save that the creatures creep about inscriptions to the gods or king whose people loved him well.

A marriage feast with figures true to life lies lapped by waves and coated with fine sand, yet if the power of man could raise the slab, so mighty, it were fit to place in any hall of earth, a work that Time hath touched not with his gnawing fangs which crumbles all, if so man's work as God's be not akin to that eternal wave which marks the growth of Time.

The cups for feast were beaten not from gold, but shaped of that transparent stuff which tossed to pave doth fall in fragments. Clear as bubble blown from foaming sea and tinted with the hues that rainbow showeth. All about the globe were woven with the skill of cunning craftsmen lilies pale, or rose, that all save scent marked perfect as marked God who gave it birth from out the soil.

Still other cups were wove from crystal as a basket grows from taper fingers, each clear strand apart, yet so welded to its fellow that the wine passed not between; in color cups like these were blue or gold or mocking wine with redness. Vases, too, were builded of the braided crystal for the chamber's use, to lave, or hold therein the flowers bright which slaves had gathered.

Gold was beaten fair in dish for flesh and trays to bear the food from fire to banquet hall. The knife, ye call, was shaped as tool thou useth to sever loaf or meat. Not gold but other metal played the part of furnishing the men of old Atlantis * their most useful implement; but that thou graspeth of fine gold was wrought, of "silver," brought from far and greater value held than gold which lay

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among the sands upon the shore in pebbles large or small.

The child at play, perchance, who ne’er had known the city's greed, might pelt his fellows with the grains. "Barbarian" children were they called who dwelt where forest hid their hut, and beasts and fish did furnish all their food, save the date and fig that cast ripe fruit unto their feet.

Couches were built from ivory tusks of creatures wandering where the growth of trees might hide from man. The covering for such couches woven were from strands of thread first spun by worms then fingers soft and deft did fashion.

Linen, too, they knew; but this was brought in galleys from that land whose people passed and in their place had sprung a savage horde who knew the dregs of birth as in that day when first man sprang from force of nature; cradled in the cloud and rocked by winds, and warmed by Sun and fed on God's own atmosphere.

Yea, sandals covered feet that nature made so graceful ’twere a sin to hide in shapen casket that fair print of God on man form. The veils the women wore were made in looms which even the queen did own, and on which her maidens wove, in patterns fair, the fleecy stuff to cover yet not hide.

The graceful grass was bidden to its folds, the vine with purple clusters, the drooping palm and plant ye name as wheat, which giveth food. Most beauteous garments wove Atlantis’ slaves, although the wife of noble, all engrossed in making beautiful her form, did weave a garment that no slave might take into her hands.

This garment glistened as the lily's leaf—a robe of silken splendor wove on loom that nothing of a meaner fiber might employ. The robe was worn by eldest of her flock who sought a bride, if sons had

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blessed her house, and were she blessed with sons, in marriage bonds the eldest craved and wore the glistening robe. And thus ’twas handed down from sire to son—a marriage robe of worth which marked long years of toil.

But one departing to another land unwed bore not with him the sacred robe of life. Aye, jewels strung on golden cord they wore; great blazing stones which Africa's mines did give and emeralds green as leaf. Aye, emeralds. Thus they called them, spake that self-same word; and from Atlantis brought my sires the great green globes of light which thou shalt see—a record of my line—hid in a mummy's breast awaiting but thy hand.

Volcanoes in a state of lesser rage and heat cast up from mud great shells that bore such pearls the eye did give a thrust of light in viewing what the smith held on his tray—the moon—pale ring of pearl of palest rose, or jet which mocked the eye of the beholder.

All were won from him—the smith—with grains of that pure metal—"gold" to commerce known. No coinage they attempted; scales had they for weight and grains of gold were laid thereon.

Ye ask the food which they consumed—the people of that land? Thy table speaks the answer, in degree; such as thine concoctions harmful, learned of priestly cook who brought to simple-minded peasant ways of food that brought no good to him. Fish, flesh of "sheep," ye speak, and wheat—the mixture of the maize and "rice" with fiery fruits that grew there as the years brought foreign tree and shrub unto that isle.

Wild honey brought in galleys from afar, pomegranates, melons, figs and nectarines, the orange, citron and the grape gave all the nourishment they needed.

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They took no blood save that the meat contained; their drink was milk of asses and of goats, not kine which never reached that isle. Later came the method to extract the juice from plant and fruit, and later yet from wheat a draught distilled the priests, sole mark of their own will to so concoct that it became a sacred drink to quaff.

A "feast" was made for men alone. No maid nor wife did sit at festal board such as thou namest, but slaves, light-footed, sped among the guests and danced to beat of hands on polished disc which gave out tone not harsh but ringing, telling of the mood of them who watched the lithesome forms of grace clad all superbly and with modesty.

A household feasted at the well-spread board alone. No guest was bidden when the children grouped about their parents, taking food from their well-loved hands.

Yea, seated not reclining were the elders. Children stood, perchance about the mother's side or grandams. Not the father's, yet a father's hand did reach to each the fruit it best did love, or when sipping gently his well-sweetened wine, bade each red lip quaff but one draught from out his bowl or vase. A loving service from a father's heart set for his hand.

Yet fasting was the rule for child of the Atlantian. Lithe of form and delicate of face were they. No foul distortion from the over-feeding which did mark the alien inhabitants who pressed upon their children grossest food.

And thus Atlantian bodies, spare, gave vital force unto Atlantian brains, for fed by motive power of thoughts from higher things, not grosser, which must eat the vapour giving life to thoughts that spring from bodies mental poise, suffusing brain, and so our thoughts are born. But all absorbed the

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body's finer force, through gross assimilation, brain is starved nor taketh to itself the finer trend of higher thought cast down from Force above.


41:* Africa.

Next: Chapter V. Other inventions of the Atlantians. The science of Ellipse of Sound.