The Moon Pool
Part 2 out of 7
Da Costa at last relieved the Cantonese at the wheel. O'Keefe and I
drew chairs up to the rail. The brighter stars shone out dimly through
a hazy sky; gleams of phosphorescence tipped the crests of the waves
and sparkled with an almost angry brilliance as the bow of the Suwarna
tossed them aside. O'Keefe pulled contentedly at a cigarette. The
glowing spark lighted the keen, boyish face and the blue eyes, now
black and brooding under the spell of the tropic night.
"Are you American or Irish, O'Keefe?" I asked suddenly.
"Why?" he laughed.
"Because," I answered, "from your name and your service I would
suppose you Irish--but your command of pure Americanese makes me
He grinned amiably.
"I'll tell you how that is," he said. "My mother was an American--a
Grace, of Virginia. My father was the O'Keefe, of Coleraine. And these
two loved each other so well that the heart they gave me is half Irish
and half American. My father died when I was sixteen. I used to go to
the States with my mother every other year for a month or two. But
after my father died we used to go to Ireland every other year. And
there you are--I'm as much American as I am Irish.
"When I'm in love, or excited, or dreaming, or mad I have the brogue.
But for the everyday purpose of life I like the United States talk,
and I know Broadway as well as I do Binevenagh Lane, and the Sound as
well as St. Patrick's Channel; educated a bit at Eton, a bit at
Harvard; always too much money to have to make any; in love lots of
times, and never a heartache after that wasn't a pleasant one, and
never a real purpose in life until I took the king's shilling and
earned my wings; something over thirty--and that's me--Larry
"But it was the Irish O'Keefe who sat out there waiting for the
banshee," I laughed.
"It was that," he said somberly, and I heard the brogue creep over his
voice like velvet and his eyes grew brooding again. "There's never an
O'Keefe for these thousand years that has passed without his warning.
An' twice have I heard the banshee calling--once it was when my
younger brother died an' once when my father lay waiting to be carried
out on the ebb tide."
He mused a moment, then went on: "An' once I saw an Annir Choille, a
girl of the green people, flit like a shade of green fire through
Carntogher woods, an' once at Dunchraig I slept where the ashes of the
Dun of Cormac MacConcobar are mixed with those of Cormac an' Eilidh
the Fair, all burned in the nine flames that sprang from the harping
of Cravetheen, an' I heard the echo of his dead harpings--"
He paused again and then, softly, with that curiously sweet, high
voice that only the Irish seem to have, he sang:
Woman of the white breasts, Eilidh;
Woman of the gold-brown hair, and lips of the red, red rowan,
Where is the swan that is whiter, with breast more soft,
Or the wave on the sea that moves as thou movest, Eilidh.
There was a little silence. I looked upon him with wonder. Clearly he
was in deepest earnest. I know the psychology of the Gael is a curious
one and that deep in all their hearts their ancient traditions and
beliefs have strong and living roots. And I was both amused and
Here was this soldier, who had faced war and its ugly realities
open-eyed and fearless, picking, indeed, the most dangerous branch of
service for his own, a modern if ever there was one, appreciative of
most unmystical Broadway, and yet soberly and earnestly attesting to
his belief in banshee, in shadowy people of the woods, and phantom
harpers! I wondered what he would think if he could see the Dweller
and then, with a pang, that perhaps his superstitions might make him
an easy prey.
He shook his head half impatiently and ran a hand over his eyes;
turned to me and grinned:
"Don't think I'm cracked, Professor," he said. "I'm not. But it takes
me that way now and then. It's the Irish in me. And, believe it or
not, I'm telling you the truth."
I looked eastward where the moon, now nearly a week past the full, was
"You can't make me see what you've seen, Lieutenant," I laughed. "But
you can make me hear. I've always wondered what kind of a noise a
disembodied spirit could make without any vocal cords or breath or any
other earthly sound-producing mechanism. How does the banshee sound?"
O'Keefe looked at me seriously.
"All right," he said. "I'll show you." From deep down in his throat
came first a low, weird sobbing that mounted steadily into a keening
whose mournfulness made my skin creep. And then his hand shot out and
gripped my shoulder, and I stiffened like stone in my chair--for from
behind us, like an echo, and then taking up the cry, swelled a wail
that seemed to hold within it a sublimation of the sorrows of
centuries! It gathered itself into one heartbroken, sobbing note and
died away! O'Keefe's grip loosened, and he rose swiftly to his feet.
"It's all right, Professor," he said. "It's for me. It found me--all
this way from Ireland."
Again the silence was rent by the cry. But now I had located it. It
came from my room, and it could mean only one thing--Huldricksson had
"Forget your banshee!" I gasped, and made a jump for the cabin.
Out of the corner of my eye I noted a look of half-sheepish relief
flit over O'Keefe's face, and then he was beside me. Da Costa shouted
an order from the wheel, the Cantonese ran up and took it from his
hands and the little Portuguese pattered down toward us. My hand on
the door, ready to throw it open, I stopped. What if the Dweller were
within--what if we had been wrong and it was not dependent for its
power upon that full flood of moon ray which Throckmartin had thought
essential to draw it from the blue pool!
From within, the sobbing wail began once more to rise. O'Keefe pushed
me aside, threw open the door and crouched low within it. I saw an
automatic flash dully in his hand; saw it cover the cabin from side to
side, following the swift sweep of his eyes around it. Then he
straightened and his face, turned toward the berth, was filled with
Through the window streamed a shaft of the moonlight. It fell upon
Huldricksson's staring eyes; in them great tears slowly gathered and
rolled down his cheeks; from his opened mouth came the woe-laden
wailing. I ran to the port and drew the curtains. Da Costa snapped the
The Norseman's dolorous crying stopped as abruptly as though cut. His
gaze rolled toward us. And at one bound he broke through the leashes I
had buckled round him and faced us, his eyes glaring, his yellow hair
almost erect with the force of the rage visibly surging through him.
Da Costa shrunk behind me. O'Keefe, coolly watchful, took a quick step
that brought him in front of me.
"Where do you take me?" said Huldricksson, and his voice was like the
growl of a beast. "Where is my boat?"
I touched O'Keefe gently and stood before the giant.
"Listen, Olaf Huldricksson," I said. "We take you to where the
sparkling devil took your Helma and your Freda. We follow the
sparkling devil that came down from the moon. Do you hear me?" I spoke
slowly, distinctly, striving to pierce the mists that I knew swirled
around the strained brain. And the words did pierce.
He thrust out a shaking hand.
"You say you follow?" he asked falteringly. "You know where to
follow? Where it took my Helma and my little Freda?"
"Just that, Olaf Huldricksson," I answered. "Just that! I pledge you
my life that I know."
Da Costa stepped forward. "He speaks true, Olaf. You go faster on
the Suwarna than on the Br-rw-un'ilda, Olaf, yes."
The giant Norseman, still gripping my hand, looked at him. "I know
you, Da Costa," he muttered. "You are all right. Ja! You are a fair
man. Where is the Brunhilda?"
"She follow be'ind on a big rope, Olaf," soothed the Portuguese.
"Soon you see her. But now lie down an' tell us, if you can, why you
tie yourself to your wheel an' what it is that happen, Olaf."
"If you'll tell us how the sparkling devil came it will help us all
when we get to where it is, Huldricksson," I said.
On O'Keefe's face there was an expression of well-nigh ludicrous doubt
and amazement. He glanced from one to the other. The giant shifted his
own tense look from me to the Irishman. A gleam of approval lighted in
his eyes. He loosed me, and gripped O'Keefe's arm. "Staerk!" he said.
"Ja--strong, and with a strong heart. A man--ja! He comes too--we
shall need him--ja!"
"I tell," he muttered, and seated himself on the side of the bunk.
"It was four nights ago. My Freda"--his voice shook--"Mine Yndling!
She loved the moonlight. I was at the wheel and my Freda and my Helma
they were behind me. The moon was behind us and the Brunhilda was like
a swanboat sailing down with the moonlight sending her, ja.
"I heard my Freda say: 'I see a nisse coming down the track of the
moon.' And I hear her mother laugh, low, like a mother does when her
Yndling dreams. I was happy--that night--with my Helma and my Freda,
and the Brunhilda sailing like a swan-boat, ja. I heard the child say,
'The nisse comes fast!' And then I heard a scream from my Helma, a
great scream--like a mare when her foal is torn from her. I spun
around fast, ja! I dropped the wheel and spun fast! I saw--" He
covered his eyes with his hands.
The Portuguese had crept close to me, and I heard him panting like a
"I saw a white fire spring over the rail," whispered Olaf
Huldricksson. "It whirled round and round, and it shone like--like
stars in a whirlwind mist. There was a noise in my ears. It sounded
like bells--little bells, ja! Like the music you make when you run
your finger round goblets. It made me sick and dizzy--the hell noise.
"My Helma was--indeholde--what you say--in the middle of the white
fire. She turned her face to me and she turned it on the child, and my
Helma's face burned into my heart. Because it was full of fear, and it
was full of happiness--of glaede. I tell you that the fear in my
Helma's face made me ice here"--he beat his breast with clenched
hand--"but the happiness in it burned on me like fire. And I could
not move--I could not move.
"I said in here"--he touched his head--"I said, 'It is Loki come out
of Helvede. But he cannot take my Helma, for Christ lives and Loki has
no power to hurt my Helma or my Freda! Christ lives! Christ lives!' I
said. But the sparkling devil did not let my Helma go. It drew her to
the rail; half over it. I saw her eyes upon the child and a little she
broke away and reached to it. And my Freda jumped into her arms. And
the fire wrapped them both and they were gone! A little I saw them
whirling on the moon track behind the Brunhilda--and they were gone!
"The sparkling devil took them! Loki was loosed, and he had power. I
turned the Brunhilda, and I followed where my Helma and mine Yndling
had gone. My boys crept up and asked me to turn again. But I would
not. They dropped a boat and left me. I steered straight on the path.
I lashed my hands to the wheel that sleep might not loose them. I
steered on and on and on--
"Where was the God I prayed when my wife and child were taken?" cried
Olaf Huldricksson--and it was as though I heard Throckmartin asking
that same bitter question. "I have left Him as He left me, ja! I pray
now to Thor and to Odin, who can fetter Loki." He sank back, covering
again his eyes.
"Olaf," I said, "what you have called the sparkling devil has taken
ones dear to me. I, too, was following it when we found you. You shall
go with me to its home, and there we will try to take from it your
wife and your child and my friends as well. But now that you may be
strong for what is before us, you must sleep again."
Olaf Huldricksson looked upon me and in his eyes was that something
which souls must see in the eyes of Him the old Egyptians called the
Searcher of Hearts in the Judgment Hall of Osiris.
"You speak truth!" he said at last slowly. "I will do what you say!"
He stretched out an arm at my bidding. I gave him a second injection.
He lay back and soon he was sleeping. I turned toward Da Costa. His
face was livid and sweating, and he was trembling pitiably. O'Keefe
"You did that mighty well, Dr. Goodwin," he said. "So well that I
almost believed you myself."
"What did you think of his story, Mr. O'Keefe?" I asked.
His answer was almost painfully brief and colloquial.
"Nuts!" he said. I was a little shocked, I admit. "I think he's crazy,
Dr. Goodwin," he corrected himself, quickly. "What else could I
I turned to the little Portuguese without answering.
"There's no need for any anxiety tonight, Captain," I said. "Take my
word for it. You need some rest yourself. Shall I give you a sleeping
"I do wish you would, Dr. Goodwin, sair," he answered gratefully.
"Tomorrow, when I feel bettair--I would have a talk with you."
I nodded. He did know something then! I mixed him an opiate of
considerable strength. He took it and went to his own cabin.
I locked the door behind him and then, sitting beside the sleeping
Norseman, I told O'Keefe my story from end to end. He asked few
questions as I spoke. But after I had finished he cross-examined me
rather minutely upon my recollections of the radiant phases upon each
appearance, checking these with Throckmartin's observations of the
same phenomena in the Chamber of the Moon Pool.
"And now what do you think of it all?" I asked.
He sat silent for a while, looking at Huldricksson.
"Not what you seem to think, Dr. Goodwin," he answered at last,
gravely. "Let me sleep over it. One thing of course is certain--you
and your friend Throckmartin and this man here saw--something. But--"
he was silent again and then continued with a kindness that I found
vaguely irritating--"but I've noticed that when a scientist gets
superstitious it--er--takes very hard!
"Here's a few things I can tell you now though," he went on while I
struggled to speak--"I pray in my heart that we'll meet neither the
Dolphin nor anything with wireless on board going up. Because, Dr.
Goodwin, I'd dearly love to take a crack at your Dweller.
"And another thing," said O'Keefe. "After this--cut out the
trimmings, Doc, and call me plain Larry, for whether I think you're
crazy or whether I don't, you're there with the nerve, Professor, and
I'm for YOU.
"Good night!" said Larry and took himself out to the deck hammock he
had insisted upon having slung for him, refusing the captain's
importunities to use his own cabin.
And it was with extremely mixed emotions as to his compliment that I
watched him go. Superstitious. I, whose pride was my scientific
devotion to fact and fact alone! Superstitious--and this from a man
who believed in banshees and ghostly harpers and Irish wood nymphs and
no doubt in leprechauns and all their tribe!
Half laughing, half irritated, and wholly happy in even the part
promise of Larry O'Keefe's comradeship on my venture, I arranged a
couple of pillows, stretched myself out on two chairs and took up my
vigil beside Olaf Huldricksson.
A Lost Page of Earth
When I awakened the sun was streaming through the cabin porthole.
Outside a fresh voice lilted. I lay on my two chairs and listened. The
song was one with the wholesome sunshine and the breeze blowing
stiffly and whipping the curtains. It was Larry O'Keefe at his matins:
The little red lark is shaking his wings,
Straight from the breast of his love he springs
Larry's voice soared.
His wings and his feathers are sunrise red,
He hails the sun and his golden head,
Good morning, Doc, you are long abed.
This last was a most irreverent interpolation, I well knew. I opened
my door. O'Keefe stood outside laughing. The Suwarna, her engines
silent, was making fine headway under all sail, the Brunhilda skipping
in her wake cheerfully with half her canvas up.
The sea was crisping and dimpling under the wind. Blue and white was
the world as far as the eye could reach. Schools of little silvery
green flying fish broke through the water rushing on each side of us;
flashed for an instant and were gone. Behind us gulls hovered and
dipped. The shadow of mystery had retreated far over the rim of this
wide awake and beautiful world and if, subconsciously, I knew that
somewhere it was brooding and waiting, for a little while at least I
was consciously free of its oppression.
"How's the patient?" asked O'Keefe.
He was answered by Huldricksson himself, who must have risen just as I
left the cabin. The Norseman had slipped on a pair of pajamas and,
giant torso naked under the sun, he strode out upon us. We all of us
looked at him a trifle anxiously. But Olaf's madness had left him. In
his eyes was much sorrow, but the berserk rage was gone.
He spoke straight to me: "You said last night we follow?"
"It is where?" he asked again.
"We go first to Ponape and from there to Metalanim Harbour--to the
Nan-Matal. You know the place?"
Huldricksson bowed--a white gleam as of ice showing in his blue eyes.
"It is there?" he asked.
"It is there that we must first search," I answered.
"Good!" said Olaf Huldricksson. "It is good!"
He looked at Da Costa inquiringly and the little Portuguese, following
his thought, answered his unspoken question.
"We should be at Ponape tomorrow morning early, Olaf."
"Good!" repeated the Norseman. He looked away, his eyes tear-filled.
A restraint fell upon us; the embarrassment all men experience when
they feel a great sympathy and a great pity, to neither of which they
quite know how to give expression. By silent consent we discussed at
breakfast only the most casual topics.
When the meal was over Huldricksson expressed a desire to go aboard
The Suwarna hove to and Da Costa and he dropped into the small boat.
When they reached the Brunhilda's deck I saw Olaf take the wheel and
the two fall into earnest talk. I beckoned to O'Keefe and we stretched
ourselves out on the bow hatch under cover of the foresail. He lighted
a cigarette, took a couple of leisurely puffs, and looked at me
"Well?" I asked.
"Well," said O'Keefe, "suppose you tell me what you think--and then
I'll proceed to point out your scientific errors." His eyes twinkled
"Larry," I replied, somewhat severely, "you may not know that I have a
scientific reputation which, putting aside all modesty, I may say is
an enviable one. You used a word last night to which I must interpose
serious objection. You more than hinted that I hid--superstitions. Let
me inform you, Larry O'Keefe, that I am solely a seeker, observer,
analyst, and synthesist of facts. I am not"--and I tried to make my
tone as pointed as my words--"I am not a believer in phantoms or
spooks, leprechauns, banshees, or ghostly harpers."
O'Keefe leaned back and shouted with laughter.
"Forgive me, Goodwin," he gasped. "But if you could have seen
yourself solemnly disclaiming the banshee"--another twinkle showed in
his eyes--"and then with all this sunshine and this wide-open
world"--he shrugged his shoulders--"it's hard to visualize anything
such as you and Huldricksson have described."
"I know how hard it is, Larry," I answered. "And don't think I have
any idea that the phenomenon is supernatural in the sense
spiritualists and table turners have given that word. I do think it is
supernormal; energized by a force unknown to modern science--but that
doesn't mean I think it outside the radius of science."
"Tell me your theory, Goodwin," he said. I hesitated--for not yet
had I been able to put into form to satisfy myself any explanation of
"I think," I hazarded finally, "it is possible that some members of
that race peopling the ancient continent which we know existed here in
the Pacific, have survived. We know that many of these islands are
honeycombed with caverns and vast subterranean spaces, literally
underground lands running in some cases far out beneath the ocean
floor. It is possible that for some reason survivors of this race
sought refuge in the abysmal spaces, one of whose entrances is on the
islet where Throckmartin's party met its end.
"As for their persistence in these caverns--we know they possessed a
high science. They may have gone far in the mastery of certain
universal forms of energy--especially that we call light. They may
have developed a civilization and a science far more advanced than
ours. What I call the Dweller may be one of the results of this
science. Larry--it may well be that this lost race is planning to
emerge again upon earth's surface!"
"And is sending out your Dweller as a messenger, a scientific dove
from their Ark?" I chose to overlook the banter in his question.
"Did you ever hear of the Chamats?" I asked him. He shook his head.
"In Papua," I explained, "there is a wide-spread and immeasurably old
tradition that 'imprisoned under the hills' is a race of giants who
once ruled this region 'when it stretched from sun to sun before the
moon god drew the waters over it'--I quote from the legend. Not only
in Papua but throughout Malaysia you find this story. And, so the
tradition runs, these people--the Chamats--will one day break through
the hills and rule the world; 'make over the world' is the literal
translation of the constant phrase in the tale. It was Herbert Spencer
who pointed out that there is a basis of fact in every myth and legend
of man. It is possible that these survivors I am discussing form
Spencer's fact basis for the Malaysian legend. *1
*1 William Beebe, the famous American naturalist and ornithologist,
recently fighting in France with America's air force, called attention
to this remarkable belief in an article printed not long ago in the
Atlantic Monthly. Still more significant was it that he noted a
persistent rumour that the breaking out of the buried race was
close.--W.J. B., Pres. I. A. of S.
"This much is sure--the moon door, which is clearly operated by the
action of moon rays upon some unknown element or combination and the
crystals through which the moon rays pour down upon the pool their
prismatic columns, are humanly made mechanisms. So long as they are
humanly made, and so long as it IS this flood of moonlight from which
the Dweller draws its power of materialization, the Dweller itself, if
not the product of the human mind, is at least dependent upon the
product of the human mind for its appearance."
"Wait a minute, Goodwin," interrupted O'Keefe. "Do you mean to say
you think that this thing is made of--well--of moonshine?"
"Moonlight," I replied, "is, of course, reflected sunlight. But the
rays which pass back to earth after their impact on the moon's surface
are profoundly changed. The spectroscope shows that they lose
practically all the slower vibrations we call red and infra-red, while
the extremely rapid vibrations we call the violet and ultra-violet are
accelerated and altered. Many scientists hold that there is an unknown
element in the moon--perhaps that which makes the gigantic luminous
trails that radiate in all directions from the lunar crater
Tycho--whose energies are absorbed by and carried on the moon rays.
"At any rate, whether by the loss of the vibrations of the red or by
the addition of this mysterious force, the light of the moon becomes
something entirely different from mere modified sunlight--just as the
addition or subtraction of one other chemical in a compound of several
makes the product a substance with entirely different energies and
"Now these rays, Larry, are given perhaps still another mysterious
activity by the globes through which Throckmartin said they passed in
the Chamber of the Moon Pool. The result is the necessary factor in
the formation of the Dweller. There would be nothing scientifically
improbable in such a process. Kubalski, the great Russian physicist,
produced crystalline forms exhibiting every faculty that we call vital
by subjecting certain combinations of chemicals to the action of
highly concentrated rays of various colours. Something in light and
nothing else produced their pseudo-vitality. We do not begin to know
how to harness the potentialities of that magnetic vibration of the
ether we call light."
"Listen, Doc," said Larry earnestly, "I'll take everything you say
about this lost continent, the people who used to live on it, and
their caverns, for granted. But by the sword of Brian Boru, you'll
never get me to fall for the idea that a bunch of moonshine can handle
a big woman such as you say Throckmartin's Thora was, nor a two-fisted
man such as you say Throckmartin was, nor Huldricksson's wife--and
I'll bet she was one of those strapping big northern women too--you'll
never get me to believe that any bunch of concentrated moonshine could
handle them and take them waltzing off along a moonbeam back to
wherever it goes. No, Doc, not on your life, even Tennessee moonshine
couldn't do that--nix!"
"All right, O'Keefe," I answered, now very much irritated indeed.
"What's your theory?" And I could not resist adding: "Fairies?"
"Professor," he grinned, "if that Thing's a fairy it's Irish and when
it sees me it'll be so glad there'll be nothing to it. 'I was lost,
strayed, or stolen, Larry avick,' it'll say, 'an' I was so homesick
for the old sod I was desp'rit,' it'll say, an' 'take me back quick
before I do any more har-rm!' it'll tell me--an' that's the truth.
"Now don't get me wrong. I believe you all saw something all right.
But what I think you saw was some kind of gas. All this region is
volcanic and islands and things are constantly poking up from the sea.
It's probably gas; a volcanic emanation; something new to us and that
drives you crazy--lots of kinds of gas do that. It hit the
Throckmartin party on that island and they probably were all more or
less delirious all the time; thought they saw things; talked it over
and--collective hallucination--just like the Angels of Mons and other
miracles of the war. Somebody sees something that looks like something
else. He points it out to the man next him. 'Do you see it?' asks he.
'Sure I see it,' says the other. And there you are--collective
"When your friends got it bad they most likely jumped overboard one by
one. Huldricksson sails into a place where it is and it hits his wife.
She grabs the child and jumps over. Maybe the moon rays make it
luminous! I've seen gas on the front under the moon that looked like a
thousand whirling dervish devils. Yes, and you could see the devil's
faces in it. And if it got into your lungs nothing could ever make you
think you hadn't seen real devils."
For a time I was silent.
"Larry," I said at last, "whether you are right or I am right, I must
go to the Nan-Matal. Will you go with me, Larry?"
"Goodwin," he replied, "I surely will. I'm as interested as you are.
If we don't run across the Dolphin I'll stick. I'll leave word at
Ponape, to tell them where I am should they come along. If they report
me dead for a while there's nobody to care. So that's all right. Only
old man, be reasonable. You've thought over this so long, you're going
bug, honestly you are."
And again, the gladness that I might have Larry O'Keefe with me, was
so great that I forgot to be angry.
The Moon Pool
Da Costa, who had come aboard unnoticed by either of us, now tapped me
on the arm.
"Doctair Goodwin," he said, "can I see you in my cabin, sair?"
At last, then, he was going to speak. I followed him.
"Doctair," he said, when we had entered, "this is a veree strange
thing that has happened to Olaf. Veree strange. An' the natives of
Ponape, they have been very much excite' lately.
"Of what they fear I know nothing, nothing!" Again that quick, furtive
crossing of himself. "But this I have to tell you. There came to me
from Ranaloa last month a man, a Russian, a doctair, like you. His
name it was Marakinoff. I take him to Ponape an' the natives there
they will not take him to the Nan-Matal where he wish to go--no! So I
take him. We leave in a boat, wit' much instrument carefully tied up.
I leave him there wit' the boat an' the food. He tell me to tell no
one an' pay me not to. But you are a friend an' Olaf he depend much
upon you an' so I tell you, sair."
"You know nothing more than this, Da Costa?" I asked. "Nothing of
"No," he shook his head vehemently. "Nothing more."
"Hear the name Throckmartin while you were there?" I persisted.
"No," his eyes were steady as he answered but the pallor had crept
again into his face.
I was not so sure. But if he knew more than he had told me why was he
afraid to speak? My anxiety deepened and later I sought relief from it
by repeating the conversation to O'Keefe.
"A Russian, eh," he said. "Well, they can be damned nice, or
damned--otherwise. Considering what you did for me, I hope I can look
him over before the Dolphin shows up."
Next morning we raised Ponape, without further incident, and before
noon the Suwarna and the Brunhilda had dropped anchor in the harbour.
Upon the excitement and manifest dread of the natives, when we sought
among them for carriers and workmen to accompany us, I will not dwell.
It is enough to say that no payment we offered could induce a single
one of them to go to the Nan-Matal. Nor would they say why.
Finally it was agreed that the Brunhilda should be left in charge of a
half-breed Chinaman, whom both Da Costa and Huldricksson knew and
trusted. We piled her long-boat up with my instruments and food and
camping equipment. The Suwarna took us around to Metalanim Harbour,
and there, with the tops of ancient sea walls deep in the blue water
beneath us, and the ruins looming up out of the mangroves, a scant
mile from us, left us.
Then with Huldricksson manipulating our small sail, and Larry at the
rudder, we rounded the titanic wall that swept down into the depths,
and turned at last into the canal that Throckmartin, on his map, had
marked as that which, running between frowning Nan-Tauach and its
satellite islet, Tau, led straight to the gate of the place of ancient
And as we entered that channel we were enveloped by a silence; a
silence so intense, so--weighted that it seemed to have substance; an
alien silence that clung and stifled and still stood aloof from
us--the living. It was a stillness, such as might follow the long
tramping of millions into the grave; it was--paradoxical as it may
be--filled with the withdrawal of life.
Standing down in the chambered depths of the Great Pyramid I had known
something of such silence--but never such intensity as this. Larry
felt it and I saw him look at me askance. If Olaf, sitting in the bow,
felt it, too, he gave no sign; his blue eyes, with again the glint of
ice within them, watched the channel before us.
As we passed, there arose upon our left sheer walls of black basalt
blocks, cyclopean, towering fifty feet or more, broken here and there
by the sinking of their deep foundations.
In front of us the mangroves widened out and filled the canal. On
our right the lesser walls of Tau, sombre blocks smoothed and squared
and set with a cold, mathematical nicety that filled me with vague
awe, slipped by. Through breaks I caught glimpses of dark ruins and of
great fallen stones that seemed to crouch and menace us, as we passed.
Somewhere there, hidden, were the seven globes that poured the moon
fire down upon the Moon Pool.
Now we were among the mangroves and, sail down, the three of us pushed
and pulled the boat through their tangled roots and branches. The
noise of our passing split the silence like a profanation, and from
the ancient bastions came murmurs--forbidding, strangely sinister. And
now we were through, floating on a little open space of shadow-filled
water. Before us lifted the gateway of Nan-Tauach, gigantic, broken,
incredibly old; shattered portals through which had passed men and
women of earth's dawn; old with a weight of years that pressed
leadenly upon the eyes that looked upon it, and yet was in some
curious indefinable way--menacingly defiant.
Beyond the gate, back from the portals, stretched a flight of enormous
basalt slabs, a giant's stairway indeed; and from each side of it
marched the high walls that were the Dweller's pathway. None of us
spoke as we grounded the boat and dragged it upon a half-submerged
pier. And when we did speak it was in whispers.
"What next?" asked Larry.
"I think we ought to take a look around," I replied in the same low
tones. "We'll climb the wall here and take a flash about. The whole
place ought to be plain as day from that height."
Huldricksson, his blue eyes alert, nodded. With the greatest
difficulty we clambered up the broken blocks.
To the east and south of us, set like children's blocks in the midst
of the sapphire sea, lay dozens of islets, none of them covering more
than two square miles of surface; each of them a perfect square or
oblong within its protecting walls.
On none was there sign of life, save for a few great birds that
hovered here and there, and gulls dipping in the blue waves beyond.
We turned our gaze down upon the island on which we stood. It was, I
estimated, about three-quarters of a mile square. The sea wall
enclosed it. It was really an enormous basalt-sided open cube, and
within it two other open cubes. The enclosure between the first and
second wall was stone paved, with here and there a broken pillar and
long stone benches. The hibiscus, the aloe tree, and a number of small
shrubs had found place, but seemed only to intensify its stark
"Wonder where the Russian can be?" asked Larry.
I shook my head. There was no sign of life here. Had Marakinoff
gone--or had the Dweller taken him, too? Whatever had happened, there
was no trace of him below us or on any of the islets within our range
of vision. We scrambled down the side of the gateway. Olaf looked at
"We start the search now, Olaf," I said. "And first, O'Keefe, let us
see whether the grey stone is really here. After that we will set up
camp, and while I unpack, you and Olaf search the island. It won't
Larry gave a look at his service automatic and grinned. "Lead on,
Macduff," he said. We made our way up the steps, through the outer
enclosures and into the central square, I confess to a fire of
scientific curiosity and eagerness tinged with a dread that O'Keefe's
analysis might be true. Would we find the moving slab and, if so,
would it be as Throckmartin had described? If so, then even Larry
would have to admit that here was something that theories of gases and
luminous emanations would not explain; and the first test of the whole
amazing story would be passed. But if not--And there before us, the
faintest tinge of grey setting it apart from its neighbouring blocks
of basalt, was the moon door!
There was no mistaking it. This was, in very deed, the portal through
which Throckmartin had seen pass that gloriously dreadful apparition
he called the Dweller. At its base was the curious, seemingly polished
cup-like depression within which, my lost friend had told me, the
opening door swung.
What was that portal--more enigmatic than was ever sphinx? And what
lay beyond it? What did that smooth stone, whose wan deadness
whispered of ages-old corridors of time opening out into alien,
unimaginable vistas, hide? It had cost the world of science
Throckmartin's great brain--as it had cost Throckmartin those he
loved. It had drawn me to it in search of Throckmartin--and its shadow
had fallen upon the soul of Olaf the Norseman; and upon what thousands
upon thousands more I wondered, since the brains that had conceived it
had vanished with their secret knowledge?
What lay beyond it?
I stretched out a shaking hand and touched the surface of the slab. A
faint thrill passed through my hand and arm, oddly unfamiliar and as
oddly unpleasant; as of electric contact holding the very essence of
cold. O'Keefe, watching, imitated my action. As his fingers rested on
the stone his face filled with astonishment.
"It's the door?" he asked. I nodded. There was a low whistle from
him and he pointed up toward the top of the grey stone. I followed the
gesture and saw, above the moon door and on each side of it, two
gently curving bosses of rock, perhaps a foot in diameter.
"The moon door's keys," I said.
"It begins to look so," answered Larry. "If we can find them," he
"There's nothing we can do till moonrise," I replied. "And we've none
too much time to prepare as it is. Come!"
A little later we were beside our boat. We lightered it, set up the
tent, and as it was now but a short hour to sundown I bade them leave
me and make their search. They went off together, and I busied myself
with opening some of the paraphernalia I had brought with me.
First of all I took out the two Becquerel ray-condensers that I had
bought in Sydney. Their lenses would collect and intensify to the
fullest extent any light directed upon them. I had found them most
useful in making spectroscopic analysis of luminous vapours, and I
knew that at Yerkes Observatory splendid results had been obtained
from them in collecting the diffused radiance of the nebulae for the
If my theory of the grey slab's mechanism were correct, it was
practically certain that with the satellite only a few nights past the
full we could concentrate enough light on the bosses to open the rock.
And as the ray streams through the seven globes described by
Throckmartin would be too weak to energize the Pool, we could enter
the chamber free from any fear of encountering its tenant, make our
preliminary observations and go forth before the moon had dropped so
far that the concentration in the condensers would fall below that
necessary to keep the portal from closing.
I took out also a small spectroscope, and a few other instruments for
the analysis of certain light manifestations and the testing of metal
and liquid. Finally, I put aside my emergency medical kit.
I had hardly finished examining and adjusting these before O'Keefe and
Huldricksson returned. They reported signs of a camp at least ten days
old beside the northern wall of the outer court, but beyond that no
evidence of others beyond ourselves on Nan-Tauach.
We prepared supper, ate and talked a little, but for the most part
were silent. Even Larry's high spirits were not in evidence; half a
dozen times I saw him take out his automatic and look it over. He was
more thoughtful than I had ever seen him. Once he went into the tent,
rummaged about a bit and brought out another revolver which, he said,
he had got from Da Costa, and a half-dozen clips of cartridges. He
passed the gun over to Olaf.
At last a glow in the southeast heralded the rising moon. I picked up
my instruments and the medical kit; Larry and Olaf shouldered each a
short ladder that was part of my equipment, and, with our electric
flashes pointing the way, walked up the great stairs, through the
enclosures, and straight to the grey stone.
By this time the moon had risen and its clipped light shone full upon
the slab. I saw faint gleams pass over it as of fleeting
phosphorescence--but so faint were they that I could not be sure of
the truth of my observation.
We set the ladders in place. Olaf I assigned to stand before the door
and watch for the first signs of its opening--if open it should. The
Becquerels were set within three-inch tripods, whose feet I had
equipped with vacuum rings to enable them to hold fast to the rock.
I scaled one ladder and fastened a condenser over the boss; descended;
sent Larry up to watch it, and, ascending the second ladder, rapidly
fixed the other in its place. Then, with O'Keefe watchful on his
perch, I on mine, and Olaf's eyes fixed upon the moon door, we began
our vigil. Suddenly there was an exclamation from Larry.
"Seven little lights are beginning to glow on this stone!" he cried.
But I had already seen those beneath my lens begin to gleam out with a
silvery lustre. Swiftly the rays within the condenser began to thicken
and increase, and as they did so the seven small circles waxed like
stars growing out of the dusk, and with a queer--curdled is the best
word I can find to define it--radiance entirely strange to me.
Beneath me I heard a faint, sighing murmur and then the voice of
"It opens--the stone turns--"
I began to climb down the ladder. Again came Olaf's voice:
"The stone--it is open--" And then a shriek, a wail of blended anguish
and pity, of rage and despair--and the sound of swift footsteps racing
through the wall beneath me!
I dropped to the ground. The moon door was wide open, and through it
I caught a glimpse of a corridor filled with a faint, pearly vaporous
light like earliest misty dawn. But of Olaf I could see--nothing! And
even as I stood, gaping, from behind me came the sharp crack of a
rifle; the glass of the condenser at Larry's side flew into fragments;
he dropped swiftly to the ground, the automatic in his hand flashed
once, twice, into the darkness.
And the moon door began to pivot slowly, slowly back into its place!
I rushed toward the turning stone with the wild idea of holding it
open. As I thrust my hands against it there came at my back a snarl
and an oath and Larry staggered under the impact of a body that had
flung itself straight at his throat. He reeled at the lip of the
shallow cup at the base of the slab, slipped upon its polished curve,
fell and rolled with that which had attacked him, kicking and
writhing, straight through the narrowing portal into the passage!
Forgetting all else, I sprang to his aid. As I leaped I felt the
closing edge of the moon door graze my side. Then, as Larry raised a
fist, brought it down upon the temple of the man who had grappled with
him and rose from the twitching body unsteadily to his feet, I heard
shuddering past me a mournful whisper; spun about as though some
giant's hand had whirled me--
The end of the corridor no longer opened out into the moonlit square
of ruined Nan-Tauach. It was barred by a solid mass of glimmering
stone. The moon door had closed!
O'Keefe took a stumbling step toward the barrier behind us. There was
no mark of juncture with the shining walls; the slab fitted into the
sides as closely as a mosaic.
"It's shut all right," said Larry. "But if there's a way in, there's
a way out. Anyway, Doc, we're right in the pew we've been heading
for--so why worry?" He grinned at me cheerfully. The man on the floor
groaned, and he dropped to his knees beside him.
"Marakinoff!" he cried.
At my exclamation he moved aside, turning the face so I could see it.
It was clearly Russian, and just as clearly its possessor was one of
unusual force and intellect.
The strong, massive brow with orbital ridge unusually developed, the
dominant, high-bridged nose, the straight lips with their more than
suggestion of latent cruelty, and the strong lines of the jaw beneath
a black, pointed beard all gave evidence that here was a personality
beyond the ordinary.
"Couldn't be anybody else," said Larry, breaking in on my thoughts.
"He must have been watching us over there from Chau-ta-leur's vault
all the time."
Swiftly he ran practised hands over his body; then stood erect,
holding out to me two wicked-looking magazine pistols and a knife. "He
got one of my bullets through his right forearm, too," he said. "Just
a flesh wound, but it made him drop his rifle. Some arsenal, our
little Russian scientist, what?"
I opened my medical kit. The wound was a slight one, and Larry stood
looking on as I bandaged it.
"Got another one of those condensers?" he asked, suddenly. "And do
you suppose Olaf will know enough to use it?"
"Larry," I answered, "Olaf's not outside! He's in here somewhere!"
His jaw dropped.
"The hell you say!" he whispered.
"Didn't you hear him shriek when the stone opened?" I asked.
"I heard him yell, yes," he said. "But I didn't know what was the
matter. And then this wildcat jumped me--" He paused and his eyes
widened. "Which way did he go?" he asked swiftly. I pointed down the
faintly glowing passage.
"There's only one way," I said.
"Watch that bird close," hissed O'Keefe, pointing to Marakinoff--and
pistol in hand stretched his long legs and raced away. I looked down
at the Russian. His eyes were open, and he reached out a hand to me. I
lifted him to his feet.
"I have heard," he said. "We follow, quick. If you will take my arm,
please, I am shaken yet, yes--" I gripped his shoulder without a word,
and the two of us set off down the corridor after O'Keefe. Marakinoff
was gasping, and his weight pressed upon me heavily, but he moved with
all the will and strength that were in him.
As we ran I took hasty note of the tunnel. Its sides were smooth and
polished, and the light seemed to come not from their surfaces, but
from far within them--giving to the walls an illusive aspect of
distance and depth; rendering them in a peculiarly weird
way--spacious. The passage turned, twisted, ran down, turned again. It
came to me that the light that illumined the tunnel was given out by
tiny points deep within the stone, sprang from the points ripplingly
and spread upon their polished faces.
There was a cry from Larry far ahead.
I gripped Marakinoff's arm closer and we sped on. Now we were coming
fast to the end of the passage. Before us was a high arch, and through
it I glimpsed a dim, shifting luminosity as of mist filled with
rainbows. We reached the portal and I looked into a chamber that might
have been transported from that enchanted palace of the Jinn King that
rises beyond the magic mountains of Kaf.
Before me stood O'Keefe and a dozen feet in front of him,
Huldricksson, with something clasped tightly in his arms. The
Norseman's feet were at the verge of a shining, silvery lip of stone
within whose oval lay a blue pool. And down upon this pool staring
upward like a gigantic eye, fell seven pillars of phantom light--one
of them amethyst, one of rose, another of white, a fourth of blue, and
three of emerald, of silver, and of amber. They fell each upon the
azure surface, and I knew that these were the seven streams of
radiance, within which the Dweller took shape--now but pale ghosts of
their brilliancy when the full energy of the moon stream raced through
Huldricksson bent and placed on the shining silver lip of the Pool
that which he held--and I saw that it was the body of a child! He set
it there so gently, bent over the side and thrust a hand down into the
water. And as he did so he moaned and lurched against the little body
that lay before him. Instantly the form moved--and slipped over the
verge into the blue. Huldricksson threw his body over the stone, hands
clutching, arms thrust deep down--and from his lips issued a
long-drawn, heart-shrivelling wail of pain and of anguish that held in
it nothing human!
Close on its wake came a cry from Marakinoff.
"Catch him!" shouted the Russian. "Drag him back! Quick!"
He leaped forward, but before he could half clear the distance,
O'Keefe had leaped too, had caught the Norseman by the shoulders and
toppled him backward, where he lay whimpering and sobbing. And as I
rushed behind Marakinoff I saw Larry lean over the lip of the Pool and
cover his eyes with a shaking hand; saw the Russian peer into it with
real pity in his cold eyes.
Then I stared down myself into the Moon Pool, and there, sinking, was
a little maid whose dead face and fixed, terror-filled eyes looked
straight into mine; and ever sinking slowly, slowly--vanished! And I
knew that this was Olaf's Freda, his beloved yndling!
But where was the mother, and where had Olaf found his babe?
The Russian was first to speak.
"You have nitroglycerin there, yes?" he asked, pointing toward my
medical kit that I had gripped unconsciously and carried with me
during the mad rush down the passage. I nodded and drew it out.
"Hypodermic," he ordered next, curtly; took the syringe, filled it
accurately with its one one-hundredth of a grain dosage, and leaned
over Huldricksson. He rolled up the sailor's sleeves half-way to the
shoulder. The arms were white with somewhat of that weird
semitranslucence that I had seen on Throckmartin's breast where a
tendril of the Dweller had touched him; and his hands were of the same
whiteness--like a baroque pearl. Above the line of white, Marakinoff
thrust the needle.
"He will need all his heart can do," he said to me.
Then he reached down into a belt about his waist and drew from it a
small, flat flask of what seemed to be lead. He opened it and let a
few drops of its contents fall on each arm of the Norwegian. The
liquid sparkled and instantly began to spread over the skin much as
oil or gasoline dropped on water does--only far more rapidly. And as
it spread it drew a sparkling film over the marbled flesh and little
wisps of vapour rose from it. The Norseman's mighty chest heaved with
agony. His hands clenched. The Russian gave a grunt of satisfaction at
this, dropped a little more of the liquid, and then, watching closely,
grunted again and leaned back. Huldricksson's laboured breathing
ceased, his head dropped upon Larry's knee, and from his arms and
hands the whiteness swiftly withdrew.
Marakinoff arose and contemplated us--almost benevolently.
"He will all right be in five minutes," he said. "I know. I do it to
pay for that shot of mine, and also because we will need him. Yes." He
turned to Larry. "You have a poonch like a mule kick, my young
friend," he said. "Some time you pay me for that, too, eh?" He smiled;
and the quality of the grimace was not exactly reassuring. Larry
looked him over quizzically.
"You're Marakinoff, of course," he said. The Russian nodded,
betraying no surprise at the recognition.
"And you?" he asked.
"Lieutenant O'Keefe of the Royal Flying Corps," replied Larry,
saluting. "And this gentleman is Dr. Walter T. Goodwin."
Marakinoff's face brightened.
"The American botanist?" he queried. I nodded.
"Ah," cried Marakinoff eagerly, "but this is fortunate. Long I have
desired to meet you. Your work, for an American, is most excellent;
surprising. But you are wrong in your theory of the development of the
Angiospermae from Cycadeoidea dacotensis. Da--all wrong--"
I was interrupting him with considerable heat, for my conclusions from
the fossil Cycadeoidea I knew to be my greatest triumph, when Larry
broke in upon me rudely.
"Say," he spluttered, "am I crazy or are you? What in damnation kind
of a place and time is this to start an argument like that?
"Angiospermae, is it?" exclaimed Larry. "HELL!"
Marakinoff again regarded him with that irritating air of benevolence.
"You have not the scientific mind, young friend," he said. "The
poonch, yes! But so has the mule. You must learn that only the fact is
important--not you, not me, not this"--he pointed to Huldricksson--"or
its sorrows. Only the fact, whatever it is, is real, yes. But"--he
turned to me--"another time--"
Huldricksson interrupted him. The big seaman had risen stiffly to his
feet and stood with Larry's arm supporting him. He stretched out his
hands to me.
"I saw her," he whispered. "I saw mine Freda when the stone swung.
She lay there--just at my feet. I picked her up and I saw that mine
Freda was dead. But I hoped--and I thought maybe mine Helma was
somewhere here, too, So I ran with mine yndling--here--" His voice
broke. "I thought maybe she was NOT dead," he went on. "And I saw
that"--he pointed to the Moon Pool--"and I thought I would bathe her
face and she might live again. And when I dipped my hands within--the
life left them, and cold, deadly cold, ran up through them into my
heart. And mine Freda--she fell--" he covered his eyes, and dropping
his head on O'Keefe's shoulder, stood, racked by sobs that seemed to
tear at his very soul.
The Flame-Tipped Shadows
Marakinoff nodded his head solemnly as Olaf finished.
"Da!" he said. "That which comes from here took them both--the woman
and the child. Da! They came clasped within it and the stone shut upon
them. But why it left the child behind I do not understand."
"How do you know that?" I cried in amazement.
"Because I saw it," answered Marakinoff simply. "Not only did I see
it, but hardly had I time to make escape through the entrance before
it passed whirling and murmuring and its bell sounds all joyous. Da!
It was what you call the squeak close, that."
"Wait a moment," I said--stilling Larry with a gesture. "Do I
understand you to say that you were within this place?"
Marakinoff actually beamed upon me.
"Da, Dr. Goodwin," he said, "I went in when that which comes from it
I gaped at him, stricken dumb; into Larry's bellicose attitude crept a
suggestion of grudging respect; Olaf, trembling, watched silently.
"Dr. Goodwin and my impetuous young friend, you," went on Marakinoff
after a moment's silence and I wondered vaguely why he did not include
Huldricksson in his address--"it is time that we have an
understanding. I have a proposal to make to you also. It is this; we
are what you call a bad boat, and all of us are in it. Da! We need all
hands, is it not so? Let us put together our knowledge and our brains
and resources--and even a poonch of a mule is a resource," he looked
wickedly at O'Keefe, "and pull our boat into quiet waters again. After
"All very well, Marakinoff," interjected Larry, "but I don't feel very
safe in any boat with somebody capable of shooting me through the
Marakinoff waved a deprecatory hand.
"It was natural that," he said, "logical, da! Here is a very great
secret, perhaps many secrets to my country invaluable--" He paused,
shaken by some overpowering emotion; the veins in his forehead grew
congested, the cold eyes blazed and the guttural voice harshened.
"I do not apologize and I do not explain," rasped Marakinoff. "But I
will tell you, da! Here is my country sweating blood in an experiment
to liberate the world. And here are the other nations ringing us like
wolves and waiting to spring at our throats at the least sign of
weakness. And here are you, Lieutenant O'Keefe of the English wolves,
and you Dr. Goodwin of the Yankee pack--and here in this place may be
that will enable my country to win its war for the worker. What are
the lives of you two and this sailor to that? Less than the flies I
crush with my hand, less than midges in the sunbeam!"
He suddenly gripped himself.
"But that is not now the important thing," he resumed, almost coldly.
"Not that nor my shooting. Let us squarely the situation face. My
proposal is so: that we join interests, and what you call see it
through together; find our way through this place and those secrets
learn of which I have spoken, if we can. And when that is done we will
go our ways, to his own land each, to make use of them for our lands
as each of us may. On my part, I offer my knowledge--and it is very
valuable, Dr. Goodwin--and my training. You and Lieutenant O'Keefe do
the same, and this man Olaf, what he can of his strength, for I do not
think his usefulness lies in his brains, no."
"In effect, Goodwin," broke in Larry as I hesitated, "the professor's
proposition is this: he wants to know what's going on here but he
begins to realize it's no one man's job and besides we have the drop
on him. We're three to his one, and we have all his hardware and
cutlery. But also we can do better with him than without him--just as
he can do better with us than without us. It's an even break--for a
while. But once he gets that information he's looking for, then look
out. You and Olaf and I are the wolves and the flies and the midges
again--and the strafing will be about due. Nevertheless, with three to
one against him, if he can get away with it he deserves to. I'm for
taking him up, if you are."
There was almost a twinkle in Marakinoff's eyes.
"It is not just as I would have put it, perhaps," he said, "but in its
skeleton he has right. Nor will I turn my hand against you while we
are still in danger here. I pledge you my honor on this."
"All right, Professor," he grinned. "I believe you mean every word
you say. Nevertheless, I'll just keep the guns."
Marakinoff bowed, imperturbably.
"And now," he said, "I will tell you what I know. I found the secret
of the door mechanism even as you did, Dr. Goodwin. But by
carelessness, my condensers were broken. I was forced to wait while I
sent for others--and the waiting might be for months. I took certain
precautions, and on the first night of this full moon I hid myself
within the vault of Chau-ta-leur."
An involuntary thrill of admiration for the man went through me at the
manifest heroism of this leap in the dark. I could see it reflected in
"I hid in the vault," continued Marakinoff, "and I saw that which
comes from here come out. I waited--long hours. At last, when the moon
was low, it returned--ecstatically--with a man, a native, in embrace
enfolded. It passed through the door, and soon then the moon became
low and the door closed.
"The next night more confidence was mine, yes. And after that which
comes had gone, I looked through its open door. I said, 'It will not
return for three hours. While it is away, why shall I not into its
home go through the door it has left open?' So I went--even to here. I
looked at the pillars of light and I tested the liquid of the Pool on
which they fell. That liquid, Dr. Goodwin, is not water, and it is not
any fluid known on earth." He handed me a small vial, its neck held in
a long thong.
"Take this," he said, "and see."
Wonderingly, I took the bottle; dipped it down into the Pool. The
liquid was extraordinarily light; seemed, in fact, to give the vial
buoyancy. I held it to the light. It was striated, streaked, as though
little living, pulsing veins ran through it. And its blueness, even in
the vial, held an intensity of luminousness.
"Radioactive," said Marakinoff. "Some liquid that is intensely
radioactive; but what it is I know not at all. Upon the living skin it
acts like radium raised to the nth power and with an element most
mysterious added. The solution with which I treated him," he pointed
to Huldricksson, "I had prepared before I came here, from certain
information I had. It is largely salts of radium and its base is
Loeb's formula for the neutralization of radium and X-ray burns.
Taking this man at once, before the degeneration had become really
active, I could negative it. But after two hours I could have done
He paused a moment.
"Next I studied the nature of these luminous walls. I concluded that
whoever had made them, knew the secret of the Almighty's manufacture
of light from the ether itself! Colossal! Da! But the substance of
these blocks confines an atomic--how would you say--atomic
manipulation, a conscious arrangement of electrons, light-emitting and
perhaps indefinitely so. These blocks are lamps in which oil and wick
are electrons drawing light waves from ether itself! A Prometheus,
indeed, this discoverer! I looked at my watch and that little guardian
warned me that it was time to go. I went. That which comes forth
returned--this time empty-handed.
"And the next night I did the same thing. Engrossed in research, I
let the moments go by to the danger point, and scarcely was I replaced
within the vault when the shining thing raced over the walls, and in
its grip the woman and child.
"Then you came--and that is all. And now--what is it you know?"
Very briefly I went over my story. His eyes gleamed now and then, but
he did not interrupt me.
"A great secret! A colossal secret!" he muttered, when I had ended.
"We cannot leave it hidden."
"The first thing to do is to try the door," said Larry, matter of
"There is no use, my young friend," assured Marakinoff mildly.
"Nevertheless we'll try," said Larry. We retraced our way through the
winding tunnel to the end, but soon even O'Keefe saw that any idea of
moving the slab from within was hopeless. We returned to the Chamber
of the Pool. The pillars of light were fainter, and we knew that the
moon was sinking. On the world outside before long dawn would be
breaking. I began to feel thirst--and the blue semblance of water
within the silvery rim seemed to glint mockingly as my eyes rested on
"Da!" it was Marakinoff, reading my thoughts uncannily. "Da! We will
be thirsty. And it will be very bad for him of us who loses control
and drinks of that, my friend. Da!"
Larry threw back his shoulders as though shaking a burden from them.
"This place would give an angel of joy the willies," he said. "I
suggest that we look around and find something that will take us
somewhere. You can bet the people that built it had more ways of
getting in than that once-a-month family entrance. Doc, you and Olaf
take the left wall; the professor and I will take the right."
He loosened one of his automatics with a suggestive movement.
"After you, Professor," he bowed, politely, to the Russian. We parted
and set forth.
The chamber widened out from the portal in what seemed to be the arc
of an immense circle. The shining walls held a perceptible curve, and
from this curvature I estimated that the roof was fully three hundred
feet above us.
The floor was of smooth, mosaic-fitted blocks of a faintly yellow
tinge. They were not light-emitting like the blocks that formed the
walls. The radiance from these latter, I noted, had the peculiar
quality of THICKENING a few yards from its source, and it was this
that produced the effect of misty, veiled distances. As we walked, the
seven columns of rays streaming down from the crystalline globes high
above us waned steadily; the glow within the chamber lost its
prismatic shimmer and became an even grey tone somewhat like moonlight
in a thin cloud.
Now before us, out from the wall, jutted a low terrace. It was all of
a pearly rose-coloured stone, slender, graceful pillars of the same
hue. The face of the terrace was about ten feet high, and all over it
ran a bas-relief of what looked like short-trailing vines, surmounted
by five stalks, on the tip of each of which was a flower.
We passed along the terrace. It turned in an abrupt curve. I heard a
hail, and there, fifty feet away, at the curving end of a wall
identical with that where we stood, were Larry and Marakinoff.
Obviously the left side of the chamber was a duplicate of that we had
explored. We joined. In front of us the columned barriers ran back a
hundred feet, forming an alcove. The end of this alcove was another
wall of the same rose stone, but upon it the design of vines was much
We took a step forward--there was a gasp of awe from the Norseman, a
guttural exclamation from Marakinoff. For on, or rather within, the
wall before us, a great oval began to glow, waxed almost to a flame
and then shone steadily out as though from behind it a light was
streaming through the stone itself!
And within the roseate oval two flame-tipped shadows appeared, stood
for a moment, and then seemed to float out upon its surface. The
shadows wavered; the tips of flame that nimbused them with flickering
points of vermilion pulsed outward, drew back, darted forth again, and
once more withdrew themselves--and as they did so the shadows
thickened--and suddenly there before us stood two figures!
One was a girl--a girl whose great eyes were golden as the fabled
lilies of Kwan-Yung that were born of the kiss of the sun upon the
amber goddess the demons of Lao-Tz'e carved for him; whose softly
curved lips were red as the royal coral, and whose golden-brown hair
reached to her knees!
And the second was a gigantic frog--A WOMAN frog, head helmeted with
carapace of shell around which a fillet of brilliant yellow jewels
shone; enormous round eyes of blue circled with a broad iris of green;
monstrous body of banded orange and white girdled with strand upon
strand of the flashing yellow gems; six feet high if an inch, and with
one webbed paw of its short, powerfully muscled forelegs resting upon
the white shoulder of the golden-eyed girl!
Moments must have passed as we stood in stark amazement, gazing at
that incredible apparition. The two figures, although as real as any
of those who stood beside me, unphantomlike as it is possible to be,
had a distinct suggestion of--projection.
They were there before us--golden-eyed girl and grotesque
frog-woman--complete in every line and curve; and still it was as
though their bodies passed back through distances; as though, to try
to express the wellnigh inexpressible, the two shapes we were looking
upon were the end of an infinite number stretching in fine linked
chain far away, of which the eyes saw only the nearest, while in the
brain some faculty higher than sight recognized and registered the
The gigantic eyes of the frog-woman took us all in--unwinkingly.
Little glints of phosphorescence shone out within the metallic green
of the outer iris ring. She stood upright, her great legs bowed; the
monstrous slit of a mouth slightly open, revealing a row of white
teeth sharp and pointed as lancets; the paw resting on the girl's
shoulder, half covering its silken surface, and from its five webbed
digits long yellow claws of polished horn glistened against the
delicate texture of the flesh.
But if the frog-woman regarded us all, not so did the maiden of the
rosy wall. Her eyes were fastened upon Larry, drinking him in with
extraordinary intentness. She was tall, far over the average of women,
almost as tall, indeed, as O'Keefe himself; not more than twenty years
old, if that, I thought. Abruptly she leaned forward, the golden eyes
softened and grew tender; the red lips moved as though she were
Larry took a quick step, and his face was that of one who after
countless births comes at last upon the twin soul lost to him for
ages. The frog-woman turned her eyes upon the girl; her huge lips
moved, and I knew that she was talking! The girl held out a warning
hand to O'Keefe, and then raised it, resting each finger upon one of
the five flowers of the carved vine close beside her. Once, twice,
three times, she pressed upon the flower centres, and I noted that her
hand was curiously long and slender, the digits like those wonderful
tapering ones the painters we call the primitive gave to their
Three times she pressed the flowers, and then looked intently at Larry
once more. A slow, sweet smile curved the crimson lips. She stretched
both hands out toward him again eagerly; a burning blush rose swiftly
over white breasts and flowerlike face.
Like the clicking out of a cinematograph, the pulsing oval faded and
golden-eyed girl and frog-woman were gone!
And thus it was that Lakla, the handmaiden of the Silent Ones, and
Larry O'Keefe first looked into each other's hearts!
Larry stood rapt, gazing at the stone.
"Eilidh," I heard him whisper; "Eilidh of the lips like the red, red
rowan and the golden-brown hair!"
"Clearly of the Ranadae," said Marakinoff, "a development of the
fossil Labyrinthodonts: you saw her teeth, da?"
"Ranadae, yes," I answered. "But from the Stegocephalia; of the order
Never such a complete indignation as was in O'Keefe's voice as he
"What do you mean--fossils and Stego whatever it is?" he asked. "She
was a girl, a wonder girl--a real girl, and Irish, or I'm not an
"We were talking about the frog-woman, Larry," I said, conciliatingly.
His eyes were wild as he regarded us.
"Say," he said, "if you two had been in the Garden of Eden when Eve
took the apple, you wouldn't have had time to give her a look for
counting the scales on the snake!"
He strode swiftly over to the wall. We followed. Larry paused,
stretched his hand up to the flowers on which the tapering fingers of
the golden-eyed girl had rested.
"It was here she put up her hand," he murmured. He pressed
caressingly the carved calyxes, once, twice, a third time even as she
had--and silently and softly the wall began to split; on each side a
great stone pivoted slowly, and before us a portal stood, opening into
a narrow corridor glowing with the same rosy lustre that had gleamed
around the flame-tipped shadows!
"Have your gun ready, Olaf!" said Larry. "We follow Golden Eyes," he
said to me.
"Follow?" I echoed stupidly.
"Follow!" he said. "She came to show us the way! Follow? I'd follow
her through a thousand hells!"
And with Olaf at one end, O'Keefe at the other, both of them with
automatics in hand, and Marakinoff and I between them, we stepped over
At our right, a few feet away, the passage ended abruptly in a square
of polished stone, from which came faint rose radiance. The roof of
the place was less than two feet over O'Keefe's head.
A yard at left of us lifted a four-foot high, gently curved barricade,
stretching from wall to wall--and beyond it was blackness; an utter
and appalling blackness that seemed to gather itself from infinite
depths. The rose-glow in which we stood was cut off by the blackness
as though it had substance; it shimmered out to meet it, and was
checked as though by a blow; indeed, so strong was the suggestion of
sinister, straining force within the rayless opacity that I shrank
back, and Marakinoff with me. Not so O'Keefe. Olaf beside him, he
strode to the wall and peered over. He beckoned us.
"Flash your pocket-light down there," he said to me, pointing into the
thick darkness below us. The little electric circle quivered down as
though afraid, and came to rest upon a surface that resembled nothing
so much as clear, black ice. I ran the light across--here and there.
The floor of the corridor was of a substance so smooth, so polished,
that no man could have walked upon it; it sloped downward at a slowly
"We'd have to have non-skid chains and brakes on our feet to tackle
that," mused Larry. Abstractedly be ran his hands over the edge on
which he was leaning. Suddenly they hesitated and then gripped
"That's a queer one!" he exclaimed. His right palm was resting upon a
rounded protuberance, on the side of which were three small circular
"A queer one--" he repeated--and pressed his fingers upon the circles.
There was a sharp click; the slabs that had opened to let us through
swung swiftly together; a curiously rapid vibration thrilled through
us, a wind arose and passed over our heads--a wind that grew and grew
until it became a whistling shriek, then a roar and then a mighty
humming, to which every atom in our bodies pulsed in rhythm painful
almost to disintegration!
The rosy wall dwindled in a flash to a point of light and disappeared!
Wrapped in the clinging, impenetrable blackness we were racing,
dropping, hurling at a frightful speed--where?
And ever that awful humming of the rushing wind and the lightning
cleaving of the tangible dark--so, it came to me oddly, must the newly
released soul race through the sheer blackness of outer space up to
that Throne of Justice, where God sits high above all suns!
I felt Marakinoff creep close to me; gripped my nerve and flashed my
pocket-light; saw Larry standing, peering, peering ahead, and
Huldricksson, one strong arm around his shoulders, bracing him. And
then the speed began to slacken.
Millions of miles, it seemed, below the sound of the unearthly
hurricane I heard Larry's voice, thin and ghostlike, beneath its
"Got it!" shrilled the voice. "Got it! Don't worry!"
The wind died down to the roar, passed back into the whistling shriek
and diminished to a steady whisper. In the comparative quiet O'Keefe's
tones now came in normal volume.
"Some little shoot-the-chutes, what?" he shouted. "Say--if they had
this at Coney Island or the Crystal Palace! Press all the way in these
holes and she goes top-high. Diminish pressure--diminish speed. The
curve of this--dashboard--here sends the wind shooting up over our
heads--like a windshield. What's behind you?"
I flashed the light back. The mechanism on which we were ended in
another wall exactly similar to that over which O'Keefe crouched.
"Well, we can't fall out, anyway," he laughed. "Wish to hell I knew
where the brakes were! Look out!"
We dropped dizzily down an abrupt, seemingly endless slope; fell--fell
as into an abyss--then shot abruptly out of the blackness into a
throbbing green radiance. O'Keefe's fingers must have pressed down
upon the controls, for we leaped forward almost with the speed of
light. I caught a glimpse of luminous immensities on the verge of
which we flew; of depths inconceivable, and flitting through the
incredible spaces--gigantic shadows as of the wings of Israfel, which
are so wide, say the Arabs, the world can cower under them like a
nestling--and then--again the living blackness!
"What was that?" This from Larry, with the nearest approach to awe
that he had yet shown.
"Trolldom!" croaked the voice of Olaf.
"Chert!" This from Marakinoff. "What a space!"
"Have you considered, Dr. Goodwin," be went on after a pause, "a
curious thing? We know, or, at least, is it not that nine out of ten
astronomers believe, that the moon was hurled out of this same region
we now call the Pacific when the earth was yet like molasses; almost
molten, I should say. And is it not curious that that which comes from
the Moon Chamber needs the moon-rays to bring it forth; is it not? And
is it not significant again that the stone depends upon the moon for
operating? Da! And last--such a space in mother earth as we just
glimpsed, how else could it have been torn but by some gigantic
birth--like that of the moon? Da! I do not put forward these as
statements of fact--no! But as suggestions--"
I started; there was so much that this might explain--an unknown
element that responded to the moon-rays in opening the moon door; the
blue Pool with its weird radioactivity, and the force within it that
reacted to the same light stream--
It was not inconceivable that a film had drawn over the world wound, a
film of earth-flesh which drew itself over that colossal abyss after
our planet had borne its satellite--that world womb did not close
when her shining child sprang forth--it was possible; and all that we
know of earth depth is four miles of her eight thousand.
What is there at the heart of earth? What of that radiant unknown
element upon the moon mount Tycho? What of that element unknown to us
as part of earth which is seen only in the corona of the sun at
eclipse that we call coronium? Yet the earth is child of the sun as
the moon is earth's daughter. And what of that other unknown element
we find glowing green in the far-flung nebulae--green as that we had
just passed through--and that we call nebulium? Yet the sun is child
of the nebulae as the earth is child of the sun and the moon is child
of the earth.
And what miracles are there in coronium and nebulium which, as the
child of nebula and sun, we inherit? Yes--and in Tycho's enigma which
came from earth heart?
We were flashing down to earth heart! And what miracles were hidden
The End of the Journey
"Say Doc!" It was Larry's voice flung back at me. "I was thinking
about that frog. I think it was her pet. Damn me if I see any
difference between a frog and a snake, and one of the nicest women I
ever knew had two pet pythons that followed her around like kittens.
Not such a devilish lot of choice between a frog and a snake--except
on the side of the frog? What? Anyway, any pet that girl wants is
hers, I don't care if it's a leaping twelve-toed lobster or a
whale-bodied scorpion. Get me?"
By which I knew that our remarks upon the frog woman were still
"He thinks of foolish nothings like the foolish sailor!" grunted
Marakinoff, acid contempt in his words. "What are their women
to--this?" He swept out a hand and as though at a signal the car
poised itself for an instant, then dipped, literally dipped down into
sheer space; skimmed forward in what was clearly curved flight, rose
as upon a sweeping upgrade and then began swiftly to slacken its
Far ahead a point of light showed; grew steadily; we were within
it--and softly all movement ceased. How acute had been the strain of
our journey I did not realize until I tried to stand--and sank back,
leg-muscles too shaky to bear my weight. The car rested in a slit in
the centre of a smooth walled chamber perhaps twenty feet square. The
wall facing us was pierced by a low doorway through which we could see
a flight of steps leading downward.
The light streamed through a small opening, the base of which was
twice a tall man's height from the floor. A curving flight of broad,
low steps led up to it. And now it came to my steadying brain that
there was something puzzling, peculiar, strangely unfamiliar about
this light. It was silvery, shaded faintly with a delicate blue and
flushed lightly with a nacreous rose; but a rose that differed from
that of the terraces of the Pool Chamber as the rose within the opal
differs from that within the pearl. In it were tiny, gleaming points
like the motes in a sunbeam, but sparkling white like the dust of
diamonds, and with a quality of vibrant vitality; they were as though
they were alive. The light cast no shadows!
A little breeze came through the oval and played about us. It was
laden with what seemed the mingled breath of spice flowers and pines.
It was curiously vivifying, and in it the diamonded atoms of light
shook and danced.
I stepped out of the car, the Russian following, and began to ascend
the curved steps toward the opening, at the top of which O'Keefe and
Olaf already stood. As they looked out I saw both their faces
change--Olaf's with awe, O'Keefe's with incredulous amaze. I hurried
to their side.
At first all that I could see was space--a space filled with the same
coruscating effulgence that pulsed about me. I glanced upward, obeying
that instinctive impulse of earth folk that bids them seek within the
sky for sources of light. There was no sky--at least no sky such as we
know--all was a sparkling nebulosity rising into infinite distances as
the azure above the day-world seems to fill all the heavens--through
it ran pulsing waves and flashing javelin rays that were like shining
shadows of the aurora; echoes, octaves lower, of those brilliant
arpeggios and chords that play about the poles. My eyes fell beneath
its splendour; I stared outward.
Miles away, gigantic luminous cliffs sprang sheer from the limits of a
lake whose waters were of milky opalescence. It was from these cliffs
that the spangled radiance came, shimmering out from all their
lustrous surfaces. To left and to right, as far as the eye could see,
they stretched--and they vanished in the auroral nebulosity on high!
"Look at that!" exclaimed Larry. I followed his pointing finger. On
the face of the shining wall, stretched between two colossal columns,
hung an incredible veil; prismatic, gleaming with all the colours of
the spectrum. It was like a web of rainbows woven by the fingers of
the daughters of the Jinn. In front of it and a little at each side
was a semi-circular pier, or, better, a plaza of what appeared to be
glistening, pale-yellow ivory. At each end of its half-circle
clustered a few low-walled, rose-stone structures, each of them
surmounted by a number of high, slender pinnacles.
We looked at each other, I think, a bit helplessly--and back again
through the opening. We were standing, as I have said, at its base.
The wall in which it was set was at least ten feet thick, and so, of
course, all that we could see of that which was without were the
distances that revealed themselves above the outer ledge of the oval.
"Let's take a look at what's under us," said Larry.
He crept out upon the ledge and peered down, the rest of us following.
A hundred yards beneath us stretched gardens that must have been like
those of many-columned Iram, which the ancient Addite King had built
for his pleasure ages before the deluge, and which Allah, so the Arab
legend tells, took and hid from man, within the Sahara, beyond all
hope of finding--jealous because they were more beautiful than his in
paradise. Within them flowers and groves of laced, fernlike trees,
pillared pavilions nestled.
The trunks of the trees were of emerald, of vermilion, and of
azure-blue, and the blossoms, whose fragrance was borne to us, shone
like jewels. The graceful pillars were tinted delicately. I noted that
the pavilions were double--in a way, two-storied--and that they were
oddly splotched with circles, with squares, and with oblongs
of--opacity; noted too that over many this opacity stretched like a
roof; yet it did not seem material; rather was it--impenetrable
Down through this city of gardens ran a broad shining green
thoroughfare, glistening like glass and spanned at regular intervals
with graceful, arched bridges. The road flashed to a wide square,
where rose, from a base of that same silvery stone that formed the lip
of the Moon Pool, a titanic structure of seven terraces; and along it
flitted objects that bore a curious resemblance to the shell of the
Nautilus. Within them were--human figures! And upon tree-bordered
promenades on each side walked others!
Far to the right we caught the glint of another emerald-paved road.
And between the two the gardens grew sweetly down to the hither side
of that opalescent water across which were the radiant cliffs and the
curtain of mystery.
Thus it was that we first saw the city of the Dweller; blessed and
accursed as no place on earth, or under or above earth has ever
been--or, that force willing which some call God, ever again shall be!
"Chert!" whispered Marakinoff. "Incredible!"
"Trolldom!" gasped Olaf Huldricksson. "It is Trolldom!"
"Listen, Olaf!" said Larry. "Cut out that Trolldom stuff! There's no
Trolldom, or fairies, outside Ireland. Get that! And this isn't
Ireland. And, buck up, Professor!" This to Marakinoff. "What you see
down there are people--JUST PLAIN PEOPLE. And wherever there's people
is where I live. Get me?
"There's no way in but in--and no way out but out," said O'Keefe.
"And there's the stairway. Eggs are eggs no matter how they're
cooked--and people are just people, fellow travellers, no matter what
dish they are in," he concluded. "Come on!"
With the three of us close behind him, he marched toward the entrance.
Yolara, Priestess of the Shining One
"You'd better have this handy, Doc." O'Keefe paused at the head of the
stairway and handed me one of the automatics he had taken from
"Shall I not have one also?" rather anxiously asked the latter.
"When you need it you'll get it," answered O'Keefe. "I'll tell you
frankly, though, Professor, that you'll have to show me before I trust
you with a gun. You shoot too straight--from cover."
The flash of anger in the Russian's eyes turned to a cold
"You say always just what is in your mind, Lieutenant O'Keefe," he
mused. "Da--that I shall remember!" Later I was to recall this odd
observation--and Marakinoff was to remember indeed.
In single file, O'Keefe at the head and Olaf bringing up the rear, we
passed through the portal. Before us dropped a circular shaft, into
which the light from the chamber of the oval streamed liquidly; set in
its sides the steps spiralled, and down them we went, cautiously. The
stairway ended in a circular well; silent--with no trace of exit! The
rounded stones joined each other evenly--hermetically. Carved on one
of the slabs was one of the five flowered vines. I pressed my fingers
upon the calyxes, even as Larry had within the Moon Chamber.
A crack--horizontal, four feet wide--appeared on the wall; widened,
and as the sinking slab that made it dropped to the level of our eyes,
we looked through a hundred-feet-long rift in the living rock! The
stone fell steadily--and we saw that it was a Cyclopean wedge set
within the slit of the passageway. It reached the level of our feet
and stopped. At the far end of this tunnel, whose floor was the
polished rock that had, a moment before, fitted hermetically into its
roof, was a low, narrow triangular opening through which light
"Nowhere to go but out!" grinned Larry. "And I'll bet Golden Eyes is
waiting for us with a taxi!" He stepped forward. We followed,
slipping, sliding along the glassy surface; and I, for one, had a
lively apprehension of what our fate would be should that enormous
mass rise before we had emerged! We reached the end; crept out of the
narrow triangle that was its exit.
We stood upon a wide ledge carpeted with a thick yellow moss. I
looked behind--and clutched O'Keefe's arm. The door through which we
had come had vanished! There was only a precipice of pale rock, on
whose surfaces great patches of the amber moss hung; around whose base
our ledge ran, and whose summits, if summits it had, were hidden, like
the luminous cliffs, in the radiance above us.
"Nowhere to go but ahead--and Golden Eyes hasn't kept her date!"
laughed O'Keefe--but somewhat grimly.
We walked a few yards along the ledge and, rounding a corner, faced
the end of one of the slender bridges. From this vantage point the
oddly shaped vehicles were plain, and we could see they were, indeed,
like the shell of the Nautilus and elfinly beautiful. Their drivers
sat high upon the forward whorl. Their bodies were piled high with
cushions, upon which lay women half-swathed in gay silken webs. From
the pavilioned gardens smaller channels of glistening green ran into
the broad way, much as automobile runways do on earth; and in and out
of them flashed the fairy shells.
There came a shout from one. Its occupants had glimpsed us. They
pointed; others stopped and stared; one shell turned and sped up a
runway--and quickly over the other side of the bridge came a score of
men. They were dwarfed--none of them more than five feet high,
prodigiously broad of shoulder, clearly enormously powerful.
"Trolde!" muttered Olaf, stepping beside O'Keefe, pistol swinging free
in his hand.
But at the middle of the bridge the leader stopped, waved back his
men, and came toward us alone, palms outstretched in the immemorial,
universal gesture of truce. He paused, scanning us with manifest
wonder; we returned the scrutiny with interest. The dwarf's face was
as white as Olaf's--far whiter than those of the other three of us;
the features clean-cut and noble, almost classical; the wide set eyes
of a curious greenish grey and the black hair curling over his head
like that on some old Greek statue.
Dwarfed though he was, there was no suggestion of deformity about him.
The gigantic shoulders were covered with a loose green tunic that
looked like fine linen. It was caught in at the waist by a broad
girdle studded with what seemed to be amazonites. In it was thrust a
long curved poniard resembling the Malaysian kris. His legs were
swathed in the same green cloth as the upper garment. His feet were
My gaze returned to his face, and in it I found something subtly
disturbing; an expression of half-malicious gaiety that underlay the
wholly prepossessing features like a vague threat; a mocking deviltry
that hinted at entire callousness to suffering or sorrow; something of
the spirit that was vaguely alien and disquieting.
He spoke--and, to my surprise, enough of the words were familiar to
enable me clearly to catch the meaning of the whole. They were
Polynesian, the Polynesian of the Samoans which is its most ancient
form, but in some indefinable way--archaic. Later I was to know that
the tongue bore the same relation to the Polynesian of today as does
NOT that of Chaucer, but of the Venerable Bede, to modern English. Nor
was this to be so astonishing, when with the knowledge came the
certainty that it was from it the language we call Polynesian sprang.
"From whence do you come, strangers--and how found you your way here?"
said the green dwarf.
I waved my hand toward the cliff behind us. His eyes narrowed
incredulously; he glanced at its drop, upon which even a mountain goat
could not have made its way, and laughed.
"We came through the rock," I answered his thought. "And we come in
peace," I added.
"And may peace walk with you," he said half-derisively--"if the
Shining One wills it!"
He considered us again.
"Show me, strangers, where you came through the rock," he commanded.
We led the way to where we had emerged from the well of the stairway.
"It was here," I said, tapping the cliff.
"But I see no opening," he said suavely.
"It closed behind us," I answered; and then, for the first time,
realized how incredible the explanation sounded. The derisive gleam
passed through his eyes again. But he drew his poniard and gravely
sounded the rock.
"You give a strange turn to our speech," he said. "It sounds
strangely, indeed--as strange as your answers." He looked at us
quizzically. "I wonder where you learned it! Well, all that you can
explain to the Afyo Maie." His head bowed and his arms swept out in a
wide salaam. "Be pleased to come with me!" he ended abruptly.
"In peace?" I asked.
"In peace," he replied--then slowly--"with me at least."
"Oh, come on, Doc!" cried Larry. "As long as we're here let's see the
sights. Allons mon vieux!" he called gaily to the green dwarf. The
latter, understanding the spirit, if not the words, looked at O'Keefe
with a twinkle of approval; turned then to the great Norseman and
scanned him with admiration; reached out and squeezed one of the
"Lugur will welcome you, at least," he murmured as though to himself.
He stood aside and waved a hand courteously, inviting us to pass. We
crossed. At the base of the span one of the elfin shells was waiting.
Beyond, scores had gathered, their occupants evidently discussing us
in much excitement. The green dwarf waved us to the piles of cushions
and then threw himself beside us. The vehicle started off smoothly,
the now silent throng making way, and swept down the green roadway at
a terrific pace and wholly without vibration, toward the
As we flew along I tried to discover the source of the power, but I
could not--then. There was no sign of mechanism, but that the shell
responded to some form of energy was certain--the driver grasping a
small lever which seemed to control not only our speed, but our
We turned abruptly and swept up a runway through one of the gardens,
and stopped softly before a pillared pavilion. I saw now that these
were much larger than I had thought. The structure to which we had
been carried covered, I estimated, fully an acre. Oblong, with its
slender, vari-coloured columns spaced regularly, its walls were like
the sliding screens of the Japanese--shoji.
The green dwarf hurried us up a flight of broad steps flanked by great
carved serpents, winged and scaled. He stamped twice upon mosaicked
stones between two of the pillars, and a screen rolled aside,
revealing an immense hall scattered about with low divans on which
lolled a dozen or more of the dwarfish men, dressed identically as he.
They sauntered up to us leisurely; the surprised interest in their
faces tempered by the same inhumanly gay malice that seemed to be
characteristic of all these people we had as yet seen.
"The Afyo Maie awaits them, Rador," said one.
The green dwarf nodded, beckoned us, and led the way through the great
hall and into a smaller chamber whose far side was covered with the
opacity I had noted from the aerie of the cliff. I examined
the--blackness--with lively interest.
It had neither substance nor texture; it was not matter--and yet it
suggested solidity; an entire cessation, a complete absorption of
light; an ebon veil at once immaterial and palpable. I stretched,
involuntarily, my hand out toward it, and felt it quickly drawn back.
"Do you seek your end so soon?" whispered Rador. "But I forget--you
do not know," he added. "On your life touch not the blackness, ever.
He stopped, for abruptly in the density a portal appeared; swinging
out of the shadow like a picture thrown by a lantern upon a screen.
Through it was revealed a chamber filled with a soft rosy glow. Rising
from cushioned couches, a woman and a man regarded us, half leaning
over a long, low table of what seemed polished jet, laden with flowers
and unfamiliar fruits.
About the room--that part of it, at least, that I could see--were a
few oddly shaped chairs of the same substance. On high, silvery
tripods three immense globes stood, and it was from them that the rose
glow emanated. At the side of the woman was a smaller globe whose
roseate gleam was tempered by quivering waves of blue.
"Enter Rador with the strangers!" a clear, sweet voice called.
Rador bowed deeply and stood aside, motioning us to pass. We entered,
the green dwarf behind us, and out of the corner of my eye I saw the
doorway fade as abruptly as it had appeared and again the dense shadow
fill its place.
"Come closer, strangers. Be not afraid!" commanded the bell-toned
The woman, sober scientist that I am, made the breath catch in my
throat. Never had I seen a woman so beautiful as was Yolara of the
Dweller's city--and none of so perilous a beauty. Her hair was of the
colour of the young tassels of the corn and coiled in a regal crown
above her broad, white brows; her wide eyes were of grey that could
change to a cornflower blue and in anger deepen to purple; grey or
blue, they had little laughing devils within them, but when the storm
of anger darkened them--they were not laughing, no! The silken webs
that half covered, half revealed her did not hide the ivory whiteness
of her flesh nor the sweet curve of shoulders and breasts. But for all
her amazing beauty, she was--sinister! There was cruelty about the
curving mouth, and in the music of her voice--not conscious cruelty,
but the more terrifying, careless cruelty of nature itself.
The girl of the rose wall had been beautiful, yes! But her beauty was
human, understandable. You could imagine her with a babe in her
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