THE SATURN

Presentation of this planet and its moons, including ring and creatures

- Chapter 8 -
The Ship Plant, Chaiaba.


 
W
e have already discussed the plants of this country, and the various trees and shrubbery. But before we turn our attention to the rivers and lakes, it will be necessary to learn about the plants which grow everywhere on the banks of these rivers and lakes, just like the reeds, bulrushes and various water plants on earth. We shall now discuss the ship plant, which on Saturn is known as chaiaba.
 
2
On Saturn this plant belongs to the species of trailing vines and therefore to the species of pumpkin, but there is one difference: it forms jointed sections wherever the stalk grows continuously over the surface of the ground, and at this section a large number of white roots grow into the ground and in this manner draw new liquids and nourishment from the soil. They become more vigorous and are able to spread farther, especially along the banks of rivers and lakes.
 
3
What does this plant look like? What kind of fruit does it bear and for what purpose? When it emerges from the soil this plant looks like a shoot, almost like a reed on earth, one which you would use as stucco work or as a building material for your houses. The stalk grows to a height of 90 to 120 feet like a green golden pole without any leaves. At the end of this pole the plant has a blue bud which opens up gradually into a peculiar kind of blossom, just as if you were to attach ten white and light red flags to the top of a round pole.
 
4
These flags are attached to 12-foot, whitish-yellow straight long stems from which they unroll; and when they are fully grown they are 24 to 30 feet long and hang and flutter from these stems. The blossom which grows from these long stems is structured in such a way that it could also be considered a fruit, one which does not wither, but instead remains for years firm and permanent.
 
5
The pole, which is actually the stalk, usually has a diameter of 30 to 90 inches at the bottom. The inside of the stalk is hollow; however, it has the firmness of metal. Once the stalk has reached half its maturity, shoots come forth at the roots which swiftly and luxuriantly begin to meander on the ground; these shoots also have a golden-green color, only slightly lighter. These round shoots grow high stems with large broad leaves at the joint of every section. This stem is greenish-blue, round and hollow and has a length of approximately 12 to 18 feet. The leaf is an obtuse ovate and has a length of 30 feet and a width of 18 feet. The leaf is red, as red as the most beautiful roses on earth. The edge is approximately 60 inches wide and has the color of the most beautiful light rainbow. Its surface shines like polished gold and the edges shine in majestic splendor. The underside is completely dark blue and covered with 9-inch-long hair that has the appearance of the most beautiful silk and which resembles in color the most purified indigo on earth, only slightly lighter. The petiole of the leaf is greenish-gold, as if you were to cover polished gold with a thin layer of green. The petiole is smooth and has a diameter of 30 to 60 inches at the stem. Where the petiole projects from the stalk it is surrounded by a kind of pointed crown, only that there are several tips and they are rounded at the ends and are a dazzling white color. At approximately the third section, a peculiar blossom grows on a long and strong pedicel. This blossom resembles a large bell; at the outer edge, the open end, this blossom has a diameter of 24 to 30 feet, whereas at the pedicel, the closed end, it has a diameter of 6 to 9 feet.
 
6
This flower is perfectly rounded in all its parts, as if it were made by a lathe. It differs in only one respect from the shape of a bell in that its wide brim is trimmed upwards with 9-inch-long tips which are joined together in a comb-like manner at regular intervals. The blossom's color is a light yellow and the tips are bright red.
 
7
From the center of this bell calyx emerges a dazzling white column, two times higher than the bell blossom plus the tips; in other words it grows beyond the brim. This column is the male reproductive organ, the stamen, and the tips at the brim are actually the pistils of this blossom. When the stamen is fully developed, it begins to disperse little shining stars which are attracted by the tips on the brim like electric sparks. This is actually the pollination of this plant.
 
8
Once the pollination has been adequately accomplished, this massive blossom withers and falls from the pedicel without changing its form, at which point it is often gathered. It has the softness of a cushion and is used for that purpose. The tips are cut off and, because of their firmness, are used as nails.
 
9
How does such a fruit grow? I can tell you that it is the most peculiar fruit in the world. As peculiar as it may seem to you, in the end this plant produces a real boat. But do not assume that these are like boats or ships on earth, which can run aground with crew and cargo. That is an impossibility with these ships which are grown. And you will learn why this is so, as soon as the structure of this fruit is explained to you. After the blossoms fall off, which are just like the pumpkins on earth, the fruit below begins to develop rapidly and enormously in the following manner: if you were to build a large egg out of fine sheet metal and then dent it on the top, one girdle into the other (not one pole into the other), in such a way that the indented wall does not touch the bottom wall - in other words so that there is a space between the two walls - then that is what the fruit resembles.
 
10
Now apply this form to our fruit, because our fruit grows in this indented oviform and when it is fully ripened it has a length of 180 to 240 feet and a width of 90 to 120 feet. The space between the indented upper wall and the lower wall is usually between 6 to 9 feet. When the fruit is completely ripe, each of these walls has a thickness of 5 to 7-1/2 feet and the firmness of metal. When the fruit is ripe it detaches itself from the stem in which the actual seeds are located in a circular fashion. In the fruit itself is nothing but a very fine kind of air. This is why this fruit is very easy to lift; even a child can do so with very little effort. The edge is surrounded by a very peculiar molding which extends approximately 12 feet over and above the fruit and has the appearance of the fins of a fish on earth. However, it is on all sides evenly radial and elastically firm so that no one can break anything off, unless he makes a special effort.
 
11
The fruit is set into the water the way it is and is used as a ship that cannot easily be destroyed. The Saturnites steer this ship with the shoot or reed, and they steer it like you steer your riverboats. This shoot or rudder has the advantage of being very light, and because it is hollow it is not necessary to touch the bottom with the stalk; instead, the water itself becomes the counter effect, because the cubic content of water soon becomes heavier than the hollow space of this shoot. In this manner the water itself resists the thrust of such a shoot. The flags that were also mentioned in paragraph 3 are sawed off, and with them the inhabitants adorn the railings of these natural ships.
 
12
Another kind of aquatic locomotion on Saturn is achieved by using the aforementioned beautiful leaves of this plant and making sails out of them. All that has to be done is to saw such a leaf off together with the petiole, as well as the pointed crown with the tips, and glue the leaf with the sap of another plant between the flags which are erected to the rim of the ship. Even a hurricane on earth would not be able to do any harm to it. This ship is able to accommodate ten Saturnites and, in an emergency, up to twenty.
 
13
The Saturnites very artfully connect several of these boats to make a larger boat which would make one of your great ocean liners on earth a mere toy by comparison. Because on the wide streams, large lakes and immense oceans, thousands of these boats are often connected to make one larger boat. On these boats, beautiful lightweight buildings are constructed, so that in fact such a floating ship looks more like a city than a ship.
 
14
Now I have told you everything about this peculiar fruit! Awaken your fantasy and you will be pleasantly surprised. The only thing that I have to add is the color of this fruit, which is very unattractive. The skin looks like the scales of a pike and is also of the same color. And for today, I say, Amen!