o make truce as between mortal enemies. The enmities of men and nations are but as child鈥檚-play now. We have come to proclaim the Truce of God against the hour of His final judgment.鈥?
CHAPTER XXX. THE SHADOW OF DEATH.
鈥淎H, I see,鈥?said Olga. 鈥淵ou have come to tell us this wonderful story about 鏉窞涓嶆瑙勭殑瓒虫荡搴楄繕鏈夊悧 the comet, and the message you say you have received from Mars, over again. You are not the first who have prophesied the end of the world by such means, nor will you be the last to be discredited by the event.
鈥淥nce for all, then, let me save misunderstanding by telling you that I don鈥檛 believe a word of it, and therefore 鏉窞kb鍦?nothing that you can say will have any effect on the course of action that I have determined upon. You are of course at liberty to preach your truce elsewhere and at your own risk, though 鏉窞瓒崇枟鎶€甯堣緭鍑?I fear it will be but the voice of one crying in the wilderness.鈥?
鈥淵es, truly in the wilderness,鈥?said Alma before Alan could reply, 鈥渂ut a wilderness that you have made with your own hand, Tsarina. You who have been the evil genius of the world, have you not done harm enough, now that the world has only a few more weeks to 鏉窞鍝噷鏈夊挐瓒充細鎵€ live?鈥?
鈥淎ccording to the idle tale you bring us,鈥?p>
interrupted Olga, repressing with a barely successful effort the anger aroused afresh within her by the serene tone in which Alma spoke. It sounded rather like the voice of an angel speaking to a mortal than of one woman addressing another, and even to herself Olga was forced to admit that there could be no question of equality between this daughter of the air and herself.
鈥淚t is no idle tale,鈥?replied Alma, almost in the same tone which she might have 鏉窞姘寸枟妗戞嬁 used in reproving a wayward child, 鈥渋t is not even a prophecy, it is a mathematical certainty, and if you understood you would believe.鈥?
鈥淵ou are wasting time and your own breath,鈥?said Olga scornfully. 鈥淵ou are not my guests but the Sultan鈥檚, yet he may allow me to say that we have other demands upon our attention more important 鏉窞姘翠細鏈€濂界殑鏄摢瀹?than listening to such sentimentalism as this.鈥?
Before Alma could answer, Alan turned to the Sultan as though not deigning to reply to Olga鈥檚 insulting speech.
鈥淵our Majesty, I see that 鏉窞鎸夋懇濂虫妧甯?this is no time to perform the mission upon which I came. We did not expect the presence of the Tsarina here. Had we done so we should not have come, for I know how vain it would be to reason with her. I came prepared to satisfy the most skilful astronomers in your kingdom that what I say is absolutely true, and I ventured 鏉窞鐢峰＋鍝佽尪 to hope that you, if satisfied by their assurances, would give peace to the world for the remnant of its days.
鈥淏ut even so it is not for us to interrupt or even to introduce an unpleasant element into the doings of to-day, so, with your Majesty鈥檚 permission, I will leave the calculations with your minister and relieve you 鏉窞姘寸（澶氬皯閽?and the Tsarina of our unwelcome presence.鈥?
All this time the Grand Vizier, Musa al Ghazi, had been standing a little to the rear of the group stroking his beard nervously and looking 鏉窞妗戞嬁閰掑簵 anxiously from one to the other. He