Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The End Of All
by [?]

The difficulty that I experience in complying with your request, dear spirit, springs from the terrestrial limitations of thought and expression, from which, as you may well know, I have not been long enough with you to free myself.

I shall, however, give you a plain narrative of the events attending the extinction of life on our planet, asking you only to remember that I am doing it just as I would have done it, were it possible, for a fellow human being while on earth, using the phraseology and the terrestrial time divisions with which I am most familiar.

The circumstance which at our last intercourse I was trying to explain to you was simply this: In the early summer of the year 1892 a sudden interruption of navigation occurred on the Pacific coast, which, curiously enough, attracted very little attention outside of scientific circles. I was living at the house of my wealthy friend, Judge Brisbane, in Gramercy Park. To tell you the truth, I was in love with his beautiful daughter, of whom I shall have to speak more fully to you, for she was intimately associated with me in the appalling scenes which you desire me to describe.

I was sitting in the Judge’s library on the night of June 25. His daughter was present, and I had been conversing with her in an undertone while the Judge read the evening papers. He suddenly laid down the paper, took off his spectacles, and, turning round in his chair, said to me: “Did you see the brief dispatch in the morning papers two days ago from San Francisco, saying that all the eastern-bound vessels were overdue on that coast?”

I replied at once that I had not noticed it.

“It is astonishing,” he said, “that in our present system of journalism the most important events connected with the welfare of mankind receive the slightest attention from the newspapers, and the trivialities of life are most voluminously treated. A movement in the iron trade that affects millions of homes gets a brief paragraph in small type, and the quarrel of a ballet girl with her paramour receives illuminated attention down whole columns. Here is something taking place in the Pacific Ocean of surpassing interest to the race, and nobody pays the slightest attention to it except, perhaps, the consignees and shipping clerks.”

“What is it?” we both asked, with the languid interest that young people, having an overmastering personal affair on hand, would be apt to take in matters of national or universal importance.

The Judge got up, and going to a side table, where he kept his papers piled in chronological order, pulled out a recent issue of a morning journal, and after looking it over searchingly a moment, said:

“Here. I should think you would notice such a paragraph as this.” Then he read, as I recollect, a telegraphic dispatch to this effect:

“SAN FRANCISCO, June 23.–Considerable anxiety is felt here in commercial circles by the non-arrival of any eastward-bound vessels for a week. The steamship
of the Occidental Line is overdue four days. An unusual easterly wind has been blowing for twenty-four hours. Weather mild.

“That dispatch, you will perceive,” said the Judge, “was sent two days ago. Now here, on the 25th, I read in the evening paper another dispatch from San Francisco, hidden away at the bottom of a column of commercial news. Listen to this:

“SAN FRANCISCO, June 25.–The entire suspension of travel from the West continues to excite the gravest apprehensions. Nothing but coastwise vessels have come in during the past eight days. The U. S. cruiser
left Honolulu three weeks ago for this coast. There is no official intimation of a storm in the Chinese seas.”

The Judge laid the paper down, and regarded us both a moment in silence, as if expecting to hear some remark that indicated our suddenly awakened curiosity.