Part 3 out of 7
Neither the past nor the future had much real interest for
Bastin; any more than they had for Bickley, though for different
reasons. The former was done with; the latter he was quite
content to leave in other hands. If he had any clear idea
thereof, probably that undiscovered land appeared to him as a
big, pleasant place where are no unbelievers or erroneous
doctrines, and all sinners will be sternly repressed, in which,
clad in a white surplice with all proper ecclesiastical
trappings, he would argue eternally with the Early Fathers and in
due course utterly annihilate Bickley, that is in a moral sense.
Personally and as a man he was extremely attached to Bickley as a
necessary and wrong-headed nuisance to which he had become
And I! What did I feel? I do not know; I cannot describe. An
extraordinary attraction, a semi-spiritual exaltation, I think.
That cave mouth might have been a magnet drawing my soul. With my
body I should have been afraid, as I daresay I was, for our
circumstances were sufficiently desperate. Here we were,
castaways upon an island, probably uncharted, one of thousands in
the recesses of a vast ocean, from which we had little chance of
escape. More, having offended the religious instincts of the
primeval inhabitants of that island, we had been forced to flee
to a rocky mountain in the centre of a lake, where, after the
food we had brought with us by accident was consumed, we should
no doubt be forced to choose between death by starvation, or, if
we attempted to retreat, at the hands of justly infuriated
savages. Yet these facts did not oppress me, for I was being
drawn, drawn to I knew not what, and if it were to doom--well, no
Therefore, none of us cared: Bastin because his faith was equal
to any emergency and there was always that white-robed heaven
waiting for him beyond which his imagination did not go (I often
wondered whether he pictured Mrs. Bastin as also waiting; if so,
he never said anything about her); Bickley because as a child of
the Present and a servant of knowledge he feared no future,
believing it to be for him non-existent, and was careless as to
when his strenuous hour of life should end; and I because I felt
that yonder lay my true future; yes, and my true past, even
though to discover them I must pass through that portal which we
know as Death.
We reached the mouth of the cave. It was a vast place; perhaps
the arch of it was a hundred feet high, and I could see that once
all this arch had been adorned with sculptures. Protected as
these were by the overhanging rock, for the sculptured mouth of
the cave was cut deep into the mountain face, they were still so
worn that it was impossible to discern their details. Time had
eaten them away like an acid. But what length of time? I could
not guess, but it must have been stupendous to have worked thus
upon that hard and sheltered rock.
This came home to me with added force when, from subsequent
examination, we learned that the entire mouth of this cave had
been sealed up for unnumbered ages. It will be remembered that
Marama told me the mountain in the lake had risen much during the
frightful cyclone in which we were wrecked and with it the cave
mouth which previously had been invisible. From the markings on
the mountain side it was obvious that something of the sort had
happened very recently, at any rate on this eastern face. That
is, either the flat rock had sunk or the volcano had been thrown
Once in the far past the cave had been as it was when we found
it. Then it had gone down in such a way that the table-rock
entirely sealed the entrance. Now this entrance was once more
open, and although of course there was a break in them, the
grooves of which I have spoken ran on into the cave at only a
slightly different level from that at which they lay upon the
flat rock. And yet, although they had been thus sheltered by a
great stone curtain in front of them, still these sculptures were
worn away by the tooth of Time. Of course, however, this may have
happened to them before they were buried in some ancient
cataclysm, to be thus resurrected at the hour of our arrival upon
Without pausing to make any closer examination of these
crumbled carvings, we entered the yawning mouth of that great
place, following and indeed walking in the deep grooves that I
have mentioned. Presently it seemed to open out as a courtyard
might at the end of a passage; yes, to open on to some vast place
whereof in that gloom we could not see the roof or the limits.
All we knew was that it must be enormous--the echoes of our
voices and footsteps told us as much, for these seemed to come
back to us from high, high above and from far, far away. Bickley
and I said nothing; we were too overcome. But Bastin remarked:
"Did you ever go to Olympia? I did once to see a kind of play
where the people said nothing, only ran about dressed up. They
told me it was religious, the sort of thing a clergyman should
study. I didn't think it religious at all. It was all about a nun
who had a baby."
"Well, what of it?" snapped Bickley.
"Nothing particular, except that nuns don't have babies, or if
they do the fact should not be advertised. But I wasn't thinking
of that. I was thinking that this place is like an underground
"Oh, be quiet!" I said, for though Bastin's description was not
bad, his monotonous, drawling voice jarred on me in that
"Be careful where you walk," whispered Bickley, for even he
seemed awed, "there may be pits in this floor."
"I wish we had a light," I said, halting.
"If candles are of any use," broke in Bastin, "as it happens I
have a packet in my pocket. I took them with me this morning for
a certain purpose."
"Not unconnected with the paraffin and the burning of the idol,
I suppose?" said Bickley. "Hand them over."
"Yes; if I had been allowed a little more time I intended--"
"Never mind what you intended; we know what you did and that's
enough," said Bickley as he snatched the packet from Bastin's
hand and proceeded to undo it, adding, "By heaven! I have no
matches, nor have you, Arbuthnot!"
"I have a dozen boxes of wax vestas in my other pocket," said
Bastin. "You see, they burn so well when you want to get up a
fire on a damp idol. As you may have noticed, the dew is very
In due course these too were produced. I took possession of
them as they were too valuable to be left in the charge of
Bastin, and, extracting a box from the packet, lit two of the
candles which were of the short thick variety, like those used in
Presently they burned up, making two faint stars of light
which, however, were not strong enough to show us either the roof
or the sides of that vast place. By their aid we pursued our
path, still following the grooves till suddenly these came to an
end. Now all around us was a flat floor of rock which, as we
perceived clearly when we pushed aside the dust that had gathered
thickly on it in the course of ages, doubtless from the gradual
disintegration of the stony walls, had once been polished till it
resembled black marble. Indeed, certain cracks in the floor
appeared to have been filled in with some dark-coloured cement. I
stood looking at them while Bickley wandered off to the right and
a little forward, and presently called to me. I walked to him,
Bastin sticking close to me as I had the other candle, as did the
little dog, Tommy, who did not like these new surroundings and
would not leave my heels.
"Look," said Bickley, holding up his candle, "and tell me--
Before me, faintly shown, was some curious structure of
gleaming rods made of yellowish metal, which rods appeared to be
connected by wires. The structure might have been forty feet high
and perhaps a hundred long. Its bottom part was buried in dust.
"What is that?" asked Bickley again.
I made no answer, for I was thinking. Bastin, however, replied:
"It's difficult to be sure in this light, but I should think
that it may be the remains of a cage in which some people who
lived here kept monkeys, or perhaps it was an aviary. Look at
those little ladders for the monkeys to climb by, or possibly for
the birds to sit on."
"Are you sure it wasn't tame angels?" asked Bickley.
"What a ridiculous remark! How can you keep an angel in a cage?
"Aeroplane!" I almost whispered to Bickley.
"You've got it!" he answered. "The framework of an aeroplane
and a jolly large one, too. Only why hasn't it oxidised?"
"Some indestructible metal," I suggested. "Gold, for instance,
does not oxidise."
He nodded and said:
"We shall have to dig it out. The dust is feet thick about it;
we can do nothing without spades. Come on."
We went round to the end of the structure, whatever it might
be, and presently came to another. Again we went on and came to
another, all of them being berthed exactly in line.
"What did I tell you?" said Bickley in a voice of triumph. "A
whole garage full, a regular fleet of aeroplanes!"
"That must be nonsense," said Bastin, "for I am quite sure that
these Orofenans cannot make such things. Indeed they have no
metal, and even cut the throats of pigs with wooden knives."
Now I began to walk forward, bearing to the left so as to
regain our former line. We could do nothing with these metal
skeletons, and I felt that there must be more to find beyond.
Presently I saw something looming ahead of me and quickened my
pace, only to recoil. For there, not thirty feet away and perhaps
three hundred yards from the mouth of the cave, suddenly appeared
what looked like a gigantic man. Tommy saw it also and barked as
dogs do when they are frightened, and the sound of his yaps
echoed endlessly from every quarter, which scared him to silence.
Recovering myself I went forward, for now I guessed the truth. It
was not a man but a statue.
The thing stood upon a huge base which lessened by successive
steps, eight of them, I think, to its summit. The foot of this
base may have been a square of fifty feet or rather more; the
real support or pedestal of the statue, however, was only a
square of about six feet. The figure itself was little above
life-size, or at any rate above our life-size, say seven feet in
height. It was very peculiar in sundry ways.
To begin with, nothing of the body was visible, for it was
swathed like a corpse. From these wrappings projected one arm,
the right, in the hand of which was the likeness of a lighted
torch. The head was not veiled. It was that of a man, long-nosed,
thin-lipped, stern-visaged; the countenance pervaded by an awful
and unutterable calm, as deep as that of Buddha only less benign.
On the brow was a wreathed head-dress, not unlike an Eastern
turban, from which sprang two little wings resembling in some
degree those on the famous Greek head of Hypnos, lord of Sleep.
Between the folds of the wrappings on the back sprang two other
wings, enormous wings bent like those of a bird about to take
flight. Indeed the whole attitude of the figure suggested that it
was springing from earth to air. It was executed in black basalt
or some stone of the sort, and very highly finished. For
instance, on the bare feet and the arm which held the torch could
be felt every muscle and even some of the veins. In the same way
the details of the skull were perfectly perceptible to the touch,
although at first sight not visible on the marble surface. This
was ascertained by climbing on the pedestal and feeling the face
with our hands.
Here I may say that its modelling as well as that of the feet
and the arm filled Bickley, who, of course, was a highly trained
anatomist, with absolute amazement. He said that he would never
have thought it possible that such accuracy could have been
reached by an artist working in so hard a material.
When the others had arrived we studied this relic as closely as
our two candles would allow, and in turn expressed our opinions
of its significance. Bastin thought that if those things down
there were really the remains of aeroplanes, which he did not
believe, the statue had something to do with flying, as was shown
by the fact that it had wings on its head and shoulders. Also, he
added, after examining the face, the head was uncommonly like
that of the idol that he had blown up. It had the same long nose
and severe shut mouth. If he was right, this was probably another
effigy of Oro which we should do well to destroy at once before
the islanders came to worship it.
Bickley ground his teeth as he listened to him.
"Destroy that!" he gasped. "Destroy! Oh! you, you--early
Here I may state that Bastin was quite right, as we proved
subsequently when we compared the head of the fetish, which, as
it will be remembered, he had brought away with him, with that of
the statue. Allowing for an enormous debasement of art, they were
essentially identical in the facial characteristics. This would
suggest the descent of a tradition through countless generations.
Or of course it may have been accidental. I am sure I do not
know, but I think it possible that for unknown centuries other
old statues may have existed in Orofena from which the idol was
copied. Or some daring and impious spirit may have found his way
to the cave in past ages and fashioned the local god upon this
Bickley was struck at once, as I had been, with the resemblance
of the figure to that of the Egyptian Osiris. Of course there
were differences. For instance, instead of the crook and the
scourge, this divinity held a torch. Again, in place of the crown
of Egypt it wore a winged head-dress, though it is true this was
not very far removed from the winged disc of that country. The
wings that sprang from its shoulders, however, suggested
Babylonia rather than Egypt, or the Assyrian bulls that are
similarly adorned. All of these symbolical ideas might have been
taken from that figure. But what was it? What was it?
In a flash the answer came to me. A representation of the
spirit of Death! Neither more nor less. There was the shroud;
there the cold, inscrutable countenance suggesting mysteries that
it hid. But the torch and the wings? Well, the torch was that
which lighted souls to the other world, and on the wings they
flew thither. Whoever fashioned that statue hoped for another
life, or so I was convinced.
I explained my ideas. Bastin thought them fanciful and
preferred his notion of a flying man, since by constitution he
was unable to discover anything spiritual in any religion except
his own. Bickley agreed that it was probably an allegorical
representation of death but sniffed at my interpretation of the
wings and the torch, since by constitution he could not believe
that the folly of a belief in immortality could have developed so
early in the world, that is, among a highly civilised people such
as must have produced this statue.
What we could none of us understand was why this ominous image
with its dead, cold face should have been placed in an aerodrome,
nor in fact did we ever discover. Possibly it was there long
before the cave was put to this use. At first the place may have
been a temple and have so remained until circumstances forced the
worshippers to change their habits, or even their Faith.
We examined this wondrous work and the pedestal on which it
stood as closely as we were able by the dim light of our candles.
I was anxious to go further and see what lay beyond it; indeed we
did walk a few paces, twenty perhaps, onward into the recesses of
Then Bickley discovered something that looked like the mouth of
a well down which he nearly tumbled, and Bastin began to complain
that he was hot and very thirsty; also to point out that he
wished for no more caves and idols at present.
"Look here, Arbuthnot," said Bickley, "these candles are
burning low and we don't want to use up more if we can prevent
it, for we may need what we have got very badly later on. Now,
according to my pocket compass the mouth of this cave points due
east; probably at the beginning it was orientated to the rising
sun for purposes of astronomical observation or of worship at
certain periods of the year. From the position of the sun when we
landed on the rock this morning I imagine that just now it rises
almost exactly opposite to the mouth of the cave. If this is so,
to-morrow at dawn, for a time at least, the light should
penetrate as far as the statue, and perhaps further. What I
suggest is that we should walt till then to explore."
I agreed with him, especially as I was feeling tired, being
exhausted by wonder, and wanted time to think. So we turned back.
As we did so I missed Tommy and inquired anxiously where he was,
being afraid lest he might have tumbled down the well-like hole.
"He's all right," said Bastin. "I saw him sniffing at the base
of that statue. I expect there is a rat in there, or perhaps a
Sure enough when we reached it there was Tommy with his black
nose pressed against the lowest of the tiers that formed the base
of the statue, and sniffing loudly. Also he was scratching in the
dust as a dog does when he has winded a rabbit in a hole. So
engrossed was he in this occupation that it was with difficulty
that I coaxed him to leave the place.
I did not think much of the incident at that time, but
afterwards it came back to me, and I determined to investigate
those stones at the first opportunity.
Passing the wrecks of the machines, we emerged on to the
causeway without accident. After we had rested and washed we set
to work to draw our canoe with its precious burden of food right
into the mouth of the cave, where we hid it as well as we could.
This done we went for a walk round the base of the peak. This
proved to be a great deal larger than we had imagined, over two
miles in circumference indeed. All about it was a belt of fertile
land, as I suppose deposited there by the waters of the great
lake and resulting from the decay of vegetation. Much of this
belt was covered with ancient forest ending in mud flats that
appeared to have been thrown up recently, perhaps at the time of
the tidal wave which bore us to Orofena. On the higher part of
the belt were many of the extraordinary crater-like holes that I
have mentioned as being prevalent on the main island; indeed the
place had all the appearance of having been subjected to a
terrific and continuous bombardment.
When we had completed its circuit we set to work to climb the
peak in order to explore the terraces of which I have spoken and
the ruins which I had seen through my field-glasses. It was quite
true; they were terraces cut with infinite labour out of the
solid rock, and on them had once stood a city, now pounded into
dust and fragments. We struggled over the broken blocks of stone
to what we had taken for a temple, which stood near the lip of
the crater, for without doubt this mound was an extinct volcano,
or rather its crest. All we could make out when we arrived was
that here had once stood some great building, for its courts
could still be traced; also there lay about fragments of steps
Apparently the latter had once been carved, but the passage of
innumerable ages had obliterated the work and we could not turn
these great blocks over to discover if any remained beneath. It
was as though the god Thor had broken up the edifice with his
hammer, or Jove had shattered it with his thunderbolts; nothing
else would account for that utter wreck, except, as Bickley
remarked significantly, the scientific use of high explosives.
Following the line of what seemed to have been a road, we came
to the edge of the volcano and found, as we expected, the usual
depression out of which fire and lava had once been cast, as from
Hecla or Vesuvius. It was now a lake more than a quarter of a
mile across. Indeed it had been thus in the ancient days when the
buildings stood upon the terraces, for we saw the remains of
steps leading down to the water. Perhaps it had served as the
sacred lake of the temple.
We gazed with wonderment and then, wearied out, scrambled back
through the ruins, which, by the way, were of a different stone
from the lava of the mountain, to the mouth of the great cave.
The Dwellers in the Tomb
By now it was drawing towards sunset, so we made such
preparations as we could for the night. One of these was to
collect dry driftwood, of which an abundance lay upon the shore,
to serve us for firing, though unfortunately we had nothing that
we could cook for our meal.
While we were thus engaged we saw a canoe approaching the
table-rock and perceived that in it were the chief Marama and a
priest. After hovering about for a while they paddled the canoe
near enough to allow of conversation which, taking no notice of
their presence, we left it to them to begin.
"O, Friend-from-the-Sea," called Marama, addressing myself, "we
come to pray you and the Great Healer to return to us to be our
guests as before. The people are covered with darkness because of
the loss of your wisdom, and the sick cry aloud for the Healer;
indeed two of those whom he has cut with knives are dying."
"And what of the Bellower?" I asked, indicating Bastin.
"We should like to see him back also, Friend-from-the-Sea, that
we may sacrifice and eat him, who destroyed our god with fire and
caused the Healer to kill his priest."
"That is most unjust," exclaimed Bastin. "I deeply regret the
blood that was shed on the occasion, unnecessarily as I think."
"Then go and atone for it with your own," said Bickley, "and
everybody will be pleased."
Waving to them to be silent, I said:
"Are you mad, Marama, that you should ask us to return to
sojourn among people who tried to kill us, merely because the
Bellower caused fire to burn an image of wood and its head to fly
from its shoulders, just to show you that it had no power to hold
itself together, although you call it a god? Not so, we wash our
hands of you; we leave you to go your own way while we go ours,
till perchance in a day to come, after many misfortunes have
overtaken you, you creep about our feet and with prayers and
offerings beg us to return."
I paused to observe the effect of my words. It was excellent,
for both Marama and the priest wrung their hands and groaned.
Then I went on:
"Meanwhile we have something to tell you. We have entered the
cave where you said no man might set a foot, and have seen him
who sits within, the true god." (Here Bastin tried to interrupt,
but was suppressed by Bickley.)
They looked at each other in a frightened way and groaned more
loudly than before.
"He sends you a message, which, as he told us of your approach,
we came to the shore to deliver to you."
"How can you say that?" began Bastin, but was again violently
suppressed by Bickley.
"It is that he, the real Oro, rejoices that the false Oro,
whose face is copied from his face, has been destroyed. It is
that he commands you day by day to bring food in plenty and lay
it upon the Rock of Offerings, not forgetting a supply of fresh
fish from the sea, and with it all those things that are stored
in the house wherein we, the strangers from the sea, deigned to
dwell awhile until we left you because in your wickedness you
wished to murder us."
"And if we refuse--what then?" asked the priest, speaking for
the first time.
"Then Oro will send death and destruction upon you. Then your
food shall fail and you shall perish of sickness and want, and
the Oromatuas, the spirits of the great dead, shall haunt you in
your sleep, and Oro shall eat up your souls."
At these horrible threats both of them uttered a kind of wail,
after which, Marama asked:
"And if we consent, what then, Friend-from-the-Sea?"
"Then, perchance," I answered, "in some day to come we may
return to you, that I may give you of my wisdom and the Great
Healer may cure your sick and the Bellower may lead you through
his gate, and in his kindness make you to see with his eyes."
This last clause of my ultimatum did not seem to appeal to the
priest, who argued a while with Marama, though what he said we
could not hear. In the end he appeared to give way. At any rate
Marama called out that all should be done as we wished, and that
meanwhile they prayed us to intercede with Oro in the cave, and
to keep back the ghosts from haunting them, and to protect them
from misfortune. I replied that we would do our best, but could
guarantee nothing since their offence was very great.
Then, to show that the conversation was at an end, we walked
away with dignity, pushing Bastin in front of us, lest he should
spoil the effect by some of his ill-timed and often over-true
"That's capital," said Bickley, when we were out of hearing.
"The enemy has capitulated. We can stop here as long as we like,
provisioned from the mainland, and if for any reason we wish to
leave, be sure of our line of retreat."
"I don't know what you call capital," exclaimed Bastin. "It
seems to me that all the lies which Arbuthnot has just told are
sufficient to bring a judgment upon us. Indeed, I think that I
will go back with Marama and explain the truth."
"I never before knew anybody who was so anxious to be cooked
and eaten," remarked Bickley. "Moreover, you are too late, for
the canoe is a hundred yards away by now, and you shan't have
ours. Remember the Pauline maxims, old fellow, which you are so
fond of quoting, and be all things to all men, and another that
is more modern, that when you are at Rome, you must do as the
Romans do; also a third, that necessity has no law, and for the
matter of that, a fourth, that all is fair in love and war."
"I am sure, Bickley, that Paul never meant his words to bear
the debased sense which you attribute to them--" began Bastin,
but at this point I hustled him off to light a fire--a process at
which I pointed out he had shown himself an expert.
We slept that night under the overhanging rock just to one side
of the cave, not in the mouth, because of the draught which drew
in and out of the great place. In that soft and balmy clime this
was no hardship, although we lacked blankets. And yet, tired
though I was, I could not rest as I should have done. Bastin
snored away contentedly, quite unaffected by his escape which to
him was merely an incident in the day's work; and so, too,
slumbered Bickley, except that he did not snore. But the
amazement and the mystery of all that we had discovered and of
all that might be left for us to discover, held me back from
What did it mean? What could it mean? My nerves were taut as
harp strings and seemed to vibrate to the touch of invisible
fingers, although I could not interpret the music that they made.
Once or twice also I thought I heard actual music with my
physical ears, and that of a strange quality. Soft and low and
dreamful, it appeared to well from the recesses of the vast cave,
a wailing song in an unknown tongue from the lips of women, or of
a woman, multiplied mysteriously by echoes. This, however, must
have been pure fancy, since there was no singer there.
Presently I dozed off, to be awakened by the sudden sound of a
great fish leaping in the lake. I sat up and stared, fearing lest
it might be the splash of a paddle, for I could not put from my
mind the possibility of attack. All I saw, however, was the low
line of the distant shore, and above it the bright and setting
stars that heralded the coming of the sun. Then I woke the
others, and we washed and ate, since once the sun rose time would
At length it appeared, splendid in a cloudless sky, and, as I
had hoped, directly opposite to the mouth of the cave. Taking our
candles and some stout pieces of driftwood which, with our
knives, we had shaped on the previous evening to serve us as
levers and rough shovels, we entered the cave. Bickley and I were
filled with excitement and hope of what we knew not, but Bastin
showed little enthusiasm for our quest. His heart was with his
half-converted savages beyond the lake, and of them, quite
rightly I have no doubt, he thought more than he did of all the
archaeological treasures in the whole earth. Still, he came,
bearing the blackened head of Oro with him which, with
unconscious humour, he had used as a pillow through the night
because, as he said, "it was after all softer than stone." Also,
I believe that in his heart he hoped that he might find an
opportunity of destroying the bigger and earlier edition of Oro
in the cave, before it was discovered by the natives who might
wish to make it an object of worship. Tommy came also, with
greater alacrity than I expected, since dogs do not as a rule
like dark places. When we reached the statue I learned the
reason; he remembered the smell he had detected at its base on
the previous day, which Bastin supposed to proceed from a rat,
and was anxious to continue his investigations.
We went straight to the statue, although Bickley passed the
half-buried machines with evident regret. As we had hoped, the
strong light of the rising sun fell upon it in a vivid ray,
revealing all its wondrous workmanship and the majesty--for no
other word describes it--of the somewhat terrifying countenance
that appeared above the wrappings of the shroud. Indeed, I was
convinced that originally this monument had been placed here in
order that on certain days of the year the sun might fall upon it
thus, when probably worshippers assembled to adore their hallowed
symbol. After all, this was common in ancient days: witness the
instance of the awful Three who sit in the deepest recesses of
the temple of Abu Simbel, on the Nile.
We gazed and gazed our fill, at least Bickley and I did, for
Bastin was occupied in making a careful comparison between the
head of his wooden Oro and that of the statue.
"There is no doubt that they are very much alike," he said.
"Why, whatever is that dog doing? I think it is going mad," and
he pointed to Tommy who was digging furiously at the base of the
lowest step, as at home I have seen him do at roots that
sheltered a rabbit.
Tommy's energy was so remarkable that at length it seriously
attracted our attention. Evidently he meant that it should do so,
for occasionally he sprang back to me barking, then returned and
sniffed and scratched. Bickley knelt down and smelt at the stone.
"It is an odd thing, Humphrey," he said, "but there is a
strange odour here, a very pleasant odour like that of
sandal-wood or attar of roses."
"I never heard of a rat that smelt like sandal-wood or attar of
roses," said Bastin. "Look out that it isn't a snake."
I knelt down beside Bickley, and in clearing away the deep dust
from what seemed to be the bottom of the step, which was perhaps
four feet in height, by accident thrust my amateur spade somewhat
strongly against its base where it rested upon the rocky floor.
Next moment a wonder came to pass. The whole massive rock
began to turn outwards as though upon a pivot! I saw it coming
and grabbed Bickley by the collar, dragging him back so that we
just rolled clear before the great block, which must have weighed
several tons, fell down and crushed us. Tommy saw it too, and
fled, though a little late, for the edge of the block caught the
tip of his tail and caused him to emit a most piercing howl. But
we did not think of Tommy and his woes; we did not think of our
own escape or of anything else because of the marvel that
appeared to us. Seated there upon the ground, after our backward
tumble, we could see into the space which lay behind the fallen
step, for there the light of the sun penetrated.
The first idea it gave me was that of the jewelled shrine of
some mediaeval saint which, by good fortune, had escaped the
plunderers; there are still such existing in the world. It shone
and glittered, apparently with gold and diamonds, although, as a
matter of fact, there were no diamonds, nor was it gold which
gleamed, but some ancient metal, or rather amalgam, which is now
lost to the world, the same that was used in the tubes of the
air-machines. I think that it contained gold, but I do not know.
At any rate, it was equally lasting and even more beautiful,
though lighter in colour.
For the rest this adorned recess which resembled that of a
large funeral vault, occupying the whole space beneath the base
of the statue that was supported on its arch, was empty save for
two flashing objects that lay side by side but with nearly the
whole width of the vault between them.
I pointed at them to Bickley with my finger, for really I could
"Coffins, by Jove!" he whispered. "Glass or crystal coffins and
people in them. Come on!"
A few seconds later we were crawling into that vault while
Bastin, still nursing the head of Oro as though it were a baby,
stood confused outside muttering something about desecrating
Just as we reached the interior, owing to the heightening of
the sun, the light passed away, leaving us in a kind of twilight.
Bickley produced carriage candles from his pocket and fumbled for
matches. While he was doing so I noticed two things--firstly,
that the place really did smell like a scent-shop, and, secondly,
that the coffins seemed to glow with a kind of phosphorescent
light of their own, not very strong, but sufficient to reveal
their outlines in the gloom. Then the candles burnt up and we
Within the coffin that stood on our left hand as we entered,
for this crystal was as transparent as plate glass, lay a most
wonderful old man, clad in a gleaming, embroidered robe. His long
hair, which was parted in the middle, as we could see beneath the
edge of the pearl-sewn and broidered cap he wore, also his beard
were snowy white. The man was tall, at least six feet four inches
in height, and rather spare. His hands were long and thin, very
delicately made, as were his sandalled feet.
But it was his face that fixed our gaze, for it was marvelous,
like the face of a god, and, as we noticed at once, with some
resemblance to that of the statue above. Thus the brow was broad
and massive, the nose straight and long, the mouth stern and
clear-cut, while the cheekbones were rather high, and the
eyebrows arched. Such are the characteristics of many handsome
old men of good blood, and as the mummies of Seti and others show
us, such they have been for thousands of years. Only this man
differed from all others because of the fearful dignity stamped
upon his features. Looking at him I began to think at once of the
prophet Elijah as he must have appeared rising to heaven,
enhanced by the more earthly glory of Solomon, for although the
appearance of these patriarchs is unknown, of them one conceives
ideas. Only it seemed probable that Elijah may have looked more
benign. Here there was no benignity, only terrible force and
Contemplating him I shivered a little and felt thankful that he
was dead. For to tell the truth I was afraid of that awesome
countenance which, I should add, was of the whiteness of paper,
although the cheeks still showed tinges of colour, so perfect was
the preservation of the corpse.
I was still gazing at it when Bickley said in a voice of
"I say, look here, in the other coffin."
I turned, looked, and nearly collapsed on the floor of the
vault, since beauty can sometimes strike us like a blow. Oh!
there before me lay all loveliness, such loveliness that there
burst from my lips an involuntary cry:
"Alas! that she should be dead!"
A young woman, I supposed, at least she looked young, perhaps
five or six and twenty years of age, or so I judged. There she
lay, her tall and delicate shape half hidden in masses of
rich-hued hair in colour of a ruddy blackness. I know not how
else to describe it, since never have I seen any of the same
tint. Moreover, it shone with a life of its own as though it had
been dusted with gold. From between the masses of this hair
appeared a face which I can only call divine. There was every
beauty that woman can boast, from the curving eyelashes of
extraordinary length to the sweet and human mouth. To these
charms also were added a wondrous smile and an air of kind
dignity, very different from the fierce pride stamped upon the
countenance of the old man who was her companion in death.
She was clothed in some close-fitting robe of white broidered
with gold; pearls were about her neck, lying far down upon the
perfect bosom, a girdle of gold and shining gems encircled her
slender waist, and on her little feet were sandals fastened with
red stones like rubies. In truth, she was a splendid creature,
and yet, I know not how, her beauty suggested more of the spirit
than of the flesh. Indeed, in a way, it was unearthly. My senses
were smitten, it pulled at my heart-strings, and yet its
unutterable strangeness seemed to awake memories within me,
though of what I could not tell. A wild fancy came to me that I
must have known this heavenly creature in some past life.
By now Bastin had joined us, and, attracted by my exclamation
and by the attitude of Bickley, who was staring down at the
coffin with a fixed look upon his face, not unlike that of a
pointer when he scents game, he began to contemplate the wonder
within it in his slow way.
"Well, I never!" he said. "Do you think the Glittering Lady in
there is human?"
"The Glittering Lady is dead, but I suppose that she was human
in her life," I answered in an awed whisper.
"Of course she is dead, otherwise she would not be in that
glass coffin. I think I should like to read the Burial Service
over her, which I daresay was never done when she was put in
"How do you know she is dead?" asked Bickley in a sharp voice
and speaking for the first time. "I have seen hundreds of
corpses, and mummies too, but never any that looked like these."
I stared at him. It was strange to hear Bickley, the scoffer at
miracles, suggesting that this greatest of all miracles might be
"They must have been here a long time," I said, "for although
human, they are not, I think, of any people known to the world
to-day; their dress, everything, shows it, though perhaps
thousands of years ago--" and I stopped.
"Quite so," answered Bickley; "I agree. That is why I suggest
that they may have belonged to a race who knew what we do not,
namely, how to suspend animation for great periods of time."
I said no more, nor did Bastin, who was now engaged in studying
the old man, and for once, wonderstruck and overcome. Bickley,
however, took one of the candles and began to make a close
examination of the coffins. So did Tommy, who sniffed along the
join of that of the Glittering Lady until his nose reached a
certain spot, where it remained, while his black tail began to
wag in a delighted fashion. Bickley pushed him away and
"As I thought," he said--"air-holes. See!"
I looked, and there, bored through the crystal of the coffin in
a line with the face of its occupant, were a number of little
holes that either by accident or design outlined the shape of a
"They are not airtight," murmured Bickley; "and if air can
enter, how can dead flesh remain like that for ages?"
Then he continued his search upon the other side.
"The lid of this coffin works on hinges," he said. "Here they
are, fashioned of the crystal itself. A living person within
could have pulled it down before the senses departed."
"No," I answered; "for look, here is a crystal bolt at the end
and it is shot from without."
This puzzled him; then as though struck by an idea, he began to
examine the other coffin.
"I've got it!" he exclaimed presently. "The old god in here"
(somehow we all thought of this old man as not quite normal)
"shut down the Glittering Lady's coffin and bolted it. His own is
not bolted, although the bolt exists in the same place. He just
got in and pulled down the lid. Oh! what nonsense I am talking--
for how can such things be? Let us get out and think."
So we crept from the sepulchre in which the perfumed air had
begun to oppress us and sat ourselves. down upon the floor of the
cave, where for a while we remained silent.
"I am very thirsty," said Bastin presently. "Those smells seem
to have dried me up. I am going to get some tea--I mean water, as
unfortunately there is no tea," and he set off towards the mouth
of the cave.
We followed him, I don't quite know why, except that we wished
to breathe freely outside, also we knew that the sepulchre and
its contents would be as safe as they had been for--well, how
It proved to be a beautiful morning outside. We walked up and
down enjoying it sub-consciously, for really our--that is
Bickley's and my own--intelligences were concentrated on that
sepulchre and its contents. Where Bastin's may have been I do not
know, perhaps in a visionary teapot, since I was sure that it
would take him a day or two to appreciate the significance of our
discoveries. At any rate, he wandered off, making no remarks
about them, to drink water, I suppose.
Presently he began to shout to us from the end of the
table-rock and we went to see the reason of his noise. It proved
to be very satisfactory, for while we were in the cave the
Orofenans had brought absolutely everything belonging to us,
together with a large supply of food from the main island. Not a
single article was missing; even our books, a can with the bottom
out, and the broken pieces of a little pocket mirror had been
religiously transported, and with these a few articles that had
been stolen from us, notably my pocket-knife. Evidently a great
taboo had been laid upon all our possessions. They were now
carefully arranged in one of the grooves of the rock that Bickley
supposed had been made by the wheels of aeroplanes, which was why
we had not seen them at once.
Each of us rushed for what we desired most--Bastin for one of
the canisters of tea, I for my diaries, and Bickley for his chest
of instruments and medicines. These were removed to the mouth of
the cave, and after them the other things and the food; also a
bell tent and some camp furniture that we had brought from the
ship. Then Bastin made some tea of which he drank four large
pannikins, having first said grace over it with unwonted fervour.
Nor did we disdain our share of the beverage, although Bickley
preferred cocoa and I coffee. Cocoa and coffee we had no time to
make then, and in view of that sepulchre in the cave, what had we
to do with cocoa and coffee?
So Bickley and I said to each other, and yet presently he
changed his mind and in a special metal machine carefully made
some extremely strong black coffee which he poured into a thermos
flask, previously warmed with hot water, adding thereto about a
claret glass of brandy. Also he extracted certain drugs from his
medicine-chest, and with them, as I noted, a hypodermic syringe,
which he first boiled in a kettle and then shut up in a little
tube with a glass stopper.
These preparations finished, he called to Tommy to give him the
scraps of our meal. But there was no Tommy. The dog was missing,
and though we hunted everywhere we could not find him. Finally we
concluded that he had wandered off down the beach on business of
his own and would return in due course. We could not bother about
Tommy just then.
After making some further preparations and fidgeting about a
little, Bickley announced that as we had now some proper paraffin
lamps of the powerful sort which are known as "hurricane," he
proposed by their aid to carry out further examinations in the
"I think I shall stop where I am," said Bastin, helping himself
from the kettle to a fifth pannikin of tea. "Those corpses are
very interesting, but I don't see any use in staring at them
again at present. One can always do that at any time. I have
missed Marama once already by being away in that cave, and I have
a lot to say to him about my people; I don't want to be absent in
case he should return."
"To wash up the things, I suppose," said Bickley with a sniff;
"or perhaps to eat the tea-leaves."
"Well, as a matter of fact, I have noticed that these natives
have a peculiar taste for tea-leaves. I think they believe them
to be a medicine, but I don't suppose they would come so far for
them, though perhaps they might in the hope of getting the head
of Oro. Anyhow, I am going to stop here."
"Pray do," said Bickley. "Are you ready, Humphrey?"
I nodded, and he handed to me a felt-covered flask of the non-
conducting kind, filled with boiling water, a tin of preserved
milk, and a little bottle of meat extract of a most concentrated
sort. Then, having lit two of the hurricane lamps and seen that
they were full of oil, we started back up the cave.
We reached the sepulchre without stopping to look at the parked
machines or even the marvelous statue that stood above it, for
what did we care about machines or statues now? As we approached
we were astonished to hear low and cavernous growlings.
"There is some wild beast in there," said Bickley, halting.
"No, by George! it's Tommy. What can the dog be after?"
We peeped in, and there sure enough was Tommy lying on the top
of the Glittering Lady's coffin and growling his very best with
the hair standing up upon his back. When he saw who it was,
however, he jumped off and frisked round, licking my hand.
"That's very strange," I exclaimed.
"Not stranger than everything else," said Bickley.
"What are you going to do?" I asked.
"Open these coffins," he answered, "beginning with that of the
old god, since I would rather experiment on him. I expect he will
crumble into dust. But if by chance he doesn't I'll jam a little
strychnine, mixed with some other drugs, of which you don't know
the names, into one of his veins and see if anything happens. If
it doesn't, it won't hurt him, and if it does--well, who knows?
Now give me a hand."
We went to the left-hand coffin and by inserting the hook on
the back of my knife, of which the real use is to pick stones out
of horses' hoofs, into one of the little air-holes I have
described, managed to raise the heavy crystal lid sufficiently to
enable us to force a piece of wood between it and the top. The
rest was easy, for the hinges being of crystal had not corroded.
In two minutes it was open.
From the chest came an overpowering spicy odour, and with it a
veritable breath of warm air before which we recoiled a little.
Bickley took a pocket thermometer which he had at hand and
glanced at it. It marked a temperature of 82 degrees in the
sepulchre. Having noted this, he thrust it into the coffin
between the crystal wall and its occupant. Then we went out and
waited a little while to give the odours time to dissipate, for
they made the head reel.
After five minutes or so we returned and examined the
thermometer. It had risen to 98 degrees, the natural temperature
of the human body.
"What do you make of that if the man is dead?" he whispered.
I shook my head, and as we had agreed, set to helping him to
lift the body from the coffin. It was a good weight, quite eleven
stone I should say; moreover, it was not still, for the hip
joints bent. We got it out and laid it on a blanket we had spread
on the floor of the sepulchre. Whilst I was thus engaged I saw
something that nearly caused me to loose my hold from
astonishment. Beneath the head, the centre of the back and the
feet were crystal boxes about eight inches square, or rather
crystal blocks, for in them I could see no opening, and these
boxes emitted a faint phosphorescent light. I touched one of them
and found that it was quite warm.
"Great heavens!" I exclaimed, "here's magic."
"There's no such thing," answered Bickley in his usual formula.
Then an explanation seemed to strike him and he added, "Not magic
but radium or something of the sort. That's how the temperature
was kept up. In sufficient quantity it is practically
indestructible, you see. My word! this old gentleman knew a thing
Again we waited a little while to see if the body begun to
crumble on exposure to the air, I taking the opportunity to make
a rough sketch of it in my pocket-book in anticipation of that
event. But it did not; it remained quite sound.
"Here goes," said Bickley. "If he should be alive, he will
catch cold in his lungs after lying for ages in that baby
incubator, as I suppose he has done. So it is now or never."
Then bidding me hold the man's right arm, he took the
sterilized syringe which he had prepared, and thrusting the
needle into a vein he selected just above the wrist, injected the
"It would have been better over the heart," he whispered, "but
I thought I would try the arm first. I don't like risking chills
by uncovering him."
I made no answer and again we waited and watched.
"Great heavens, he's stirring!" I gasped presently.
Stirring he was, for his fingers began to move.
Bickley bent down and placed his ear to the heart--I forgot to
say that he had tested this before with a stethoscope, but had
been unable to detect any movement.
"I believe it is beginning to beat," he said in an awed voice.
Then he applied the stethoscope, and added, "It is, it is!"
Next he took a filament of cotton wool and laid it on the man's
lips. Presently it moved; he was breathing, though very faintly.
Bickley took more cotton wool and having poured something from
his medicine-chest on to it, placed it over the mouth beneath the
man's nostrils--I believe it was sal volatile.
Nothing further happened for a little while, and to relieve the
strain on my mind I stared absently into the empty coffin. Here I
saw what had escaped our notice, two small plates of white metal
and cut upon them what I took to be star maps. Beyond these and
the glowing boxes which I have mentioned, there was nothing else
in the coffin. I had no time to examine them, for at that moment
the old man opened his mouth and began to breathe, evidently with
some discomfort and effort, as his empty lungs filled themselves
with air. Then his eyelids lifted, revealing a wonderful pair of
dark glowing eyes beneath. Next he tried to sit up but would have
fallen, had not Bickley supported him with his arm.
I do not think he saw Bickley, indeed he shut his eyes again as
though the light hurt them, and went into a kind of faint. Then
it was that Tommy, who all this while had been watching the
proceedings with grave interest, came forward, wagging his tail,
and licked the man's face. At the touch of the dog's red tongue,
he opened his eyes for the second time. Now he saw--not us but
Tommy, for after contemplating him for a few seconds, something
like a smile appeared upon his fierce but noble face. More, he
lifted his hand and laid it on the dog's head, as though to pat
it kindly. Half a minute or so later his awakening senses
appreciated our presence. The incipient smile vanished and was
replaced by a somewhat terrible frown.
Meanwhile Bickley had poured out some of the hot coffee laced
with brandy into the cup that was screwed on the top of the
thermos flask. Advancing to the man whom I supported, he put it
to his lips. He tasted and made a wry face, but presently he
began to sip, and ultimately swallowed it all. The effect of the
stimulant was wonderful, for in a few minutes he came to life
completely and was even able to sit up without support.
For quite a long while he gazed at us gravely, talking us in and
everything connected with us. For instance, Bickley's medicine-
case which lay open showing the little vulcanite tubes, a few
instruments and other outfit, engaged his particular attention,
and I saw at once that he understood what it was. Thus his arm
still smarted where the needle had been driven in and on the
blanket lay the syringe. He looked at his arm, then looked at the
syringe, and nodded. The paraffin hurricane lamps also seemed to
interest and win his approval. We two men, as I thought,
attracted him least of all; he just summed us up and our
garments, more especially the garments, with a few shrewd
glances, and then seemed to turn his thoughts to Tommy, who had
seated himself quite contentedly at his side, evidently accepting
him as a new addition to our party.
I confess that this behaviour on Tommy's part reassured me not
a little. I am a great believer in the instincts of animals,
especially of dogs, and I felt certain that if this man had not
been in all essentials human like ourselves, Tommy would not have
tolerated him. In the same way the sleeper's clear liking for
Tommy, at whom he looked much oftener and with greater kindness
than he did at us, suggested that there was goodness in him
somewhere, since although a dog in its wonderful tolerance may
love a bad person in whom it smells out hidden virtue, no really
bad person ever loved a dog, or, I may add, a child or a flower.
As a matter of fact, the "old god," as we had christened him
while he was in his coffin, during all our association with him,
cared infinitely more for Tommy than he did for any of us, a
circumstance that ultimately was not without its influence upon
our fortunes. But for this there was a reason as we learned
afterwards, also he was not really so amiable as I hoped.
When we had looked at each other for a long while the sleeper
began to arrange his beard, of which the length seemed to
surprise him, especially as Tommy was seated on one end of it.
Finding this out and apparently not wishing to disturb Tommy, he
gave up the occupation, and after one or two attempts, for his
tongue and lips still seemed to be stiff, addressed us in some
sonorous and musical language, unlike any that we had ever heard.
We shook our heads. Then by an afterthought I said "Good day" to
him in the language of the Orofenans. He puzzled over the word as
though it were more or less familiar to him, and when I repeated
it, gave it back to me with a difference indeed, but in a way
which convinced us that he quite understood what I meant. The
conversation went no further at the moment because just then some
memory seemed to strike him.
He was sitting with his back against the coffin of the
Glittering Lady, whom therefore he had not seen. Now he began to
turn round, and being too weak to do so, motioned me to help him.
I obeyed, while Bickley, guessing his purpose, held up one of the
hurricane lamps that he might see better. With a kind of fierce
eagerness he surveyed her who lay within the coffin, and after he
had done so, uttered a sigh as of intense relief.
Next he pointed to the metal cup out of which he had drunk.
Bickley filled it again from the thermos flask, which I observed
excited his keen interest, for, having touched the flask with his
hand and found that it was cool, he appeared to marvel that the
fluid coming from it should be hot and steaming. Presently he
smiled as though he had got the clue to the mystery, and
swallowed his second drink of coffee and spirit. This done, he
motioned to us to lift the lid of the lady's coffin, pointing out
a certain catch in the bolts which at first we could not master,
for it will be remembered that on this coffin these were shot.
In the end, by pursuing the same methods that we had used in
the instance of his own, we raised the coffin lid and once more
were driven to retreat from the sepulchre for a while by the
overpowering odour like to that of a whole greenhouse full of
tuberoses, that flowed out of it, inducing a kind of stupefaction
from which even Tommy fled.
When we returned it was to find the man kneeling by the side of
the coffin, for as yet he could not stand, with his glowing eyes
fixed upon the face of her who slept therein and waving his long
arms above her.
"Hypnotic business! Wonder if it will work," whispered Bickley.
Then he lifted the syringe and looked inquiringly at the man, who
shook his head, and went on with his mesmeric passes.
I crept round him and took my stand by the sleeper's head, that
I might watch her face, which was well worth watching, while
Bickley, with his medicine at hand, remained near her feet, I
think engaged in disinfecting the syringe in some spirit or acid.
I believe he was about to make an attempt to use it when
suddenly, as though beneath the influence of the hypnotic passes,
a change appeared on the Glittering Lady's face. Hitherto,
beautiful as it was, it had been a dead face though one of a
person who had suddenly been cut off while in full health and
vigour a few hours, or at the most a day or so before. Now it
began to live again; it was as though the spirit were returning
from afar, and not without toil and tribulation.
Expression after expression flitted across the features; indeed
these seemed to change so much from moment to moment that they
might have belonged to several different individuals, though each
was beautiful. The fact of these remarkable changes with the
suggestion of multiform personalities which they conveyed
impressed both Bickley and myself very much indeed. Then the
breast heaved tumultuously; it even appeared to struggle. Next
the eyes opened. They were full of wonder, even of fear, but oh!
what marvelous eyes. I do not know how to describe them, I
cannot even state their exact colour, except that it was dark,
something like the blue of sapphires of the deepest tint, and yet
not black; large, too, and soft as a deer's. They shut again as
though the light hurt them, then once more opened and wandered
about, apparently without seeing.
At length they found my face, for I was still bending over her,
and, resting there, appeared to take it in by degrees. More, it
seemed to touch and stir some human spring in the still-sleeping
heart. At least the fear passed from her features and was
replaced by a faint smile, such as a patient sometimes gives to
one known and well loved, as the effects of chloroform pass away.
For a while she looked at me with an earnest, searching gaze,
then suddenly, for the first time moving her arms, lifted them
and threw them round my neck.
The old man stared, bending his imperial brows into a little
frown, but did nothing. Bickley stared also through his glasses
and sniffed as though in disapproval, while I remained quite
still, fighting with a wild impulse to kiss her on the lips as
one would an awakening and beloved child. I doubt if I could have
done so, however, for really I was immovable; my heart seemed to
stop and all my muscles to be paralysed.
I do not know for how long this endured, but I do know how it
ended. Presently in the intense silence I heard Bastin's heavy
voice and looking round, saw his big head projecting into the
"Well, I never!" he said, "you seem to have woke them up with a
vengeance. If you begin like that with the lady, there will be
complications before you have done, Arbuthnot."
Talk of being brought back to earth with a rush! I could have
killed Bastin, and Bickley, turning on him like a tiger, told him
to be off, find wood and light a large fire in front of the
statue. I think he was about to argue when the Ancient gave him a
glance of his fierce eyes, which alarmed him, and he departed,
bewildered, to return presently with the wood.
But the sound of his voice had broken the spell. The Lady let
her arms fall with a start, and shut her eyes again, seeming to
faint. Bickley sprang forward with his sal volatile and applied
it to her nostrils, the Ancient not interfering, for he seemed to
recognise that he had to deal with a man of skill and one who
meant well by them.
In the end we brought her round again and, to omit details,
Bickley gave her, not coffee and brandy, but a mixture he
compounded of hot water, preserved milk and meat essence. The
effect of it on her was wonderful, since a few minutes after
swallowing it she sat up in the coffin. Then we lifted her from
that narrow bed in which she had slept for--ah! how long? and
perceived that beneath her also were crystal boxes of the
radiant, heat-giving substance. We sat her on the floor of the
sepulchre, wrapping her also in a blanket.
Now it was that Tommy, after frisking round her as though in
welcome of an old friend, calmly established himself beside her
and laid his black head upon her knee. She noted it and smiled
for the first time, a marvelously sweet and gentle smile. More,
she placed her slender hand upon the dog and stroked him feebly.
Bickley tried to make her drink some more of his mixture, but
she refused, motioning him to give it to Tommy. This, however, he
would not do because there was but one cup. Presently both of the
sleepers began to shiver, which caused Bickley anxiety. Abusing
Bastin beneath his breath for being so long with the fire, he
drew the blankets closer about them.
Then an idea came to him and he examined the glowing boxes in
the coffin. They were loose, being merely set in prepared
cavities in the crystal. Wrapping our handkerchiefs about his
hand, he took them out and placed them around the wakened
patients, a proceeding of which the Ancient nodded approval. Just
then, too, Bastin returned with his first load of firewood, and
soon we had a merry blaze going just outside the sepulchre. I saw
that they observed the lighting of this fire by means of a match
with much interest.
Now they grew warm again, as indeed we did also--too warm. Then
in my turn I had an idea. I knew that by now the sun would be
beating hotly against the rock of the mount, and suggested to
Bickley, that, if possible, the best thing we could do would be
to get them into its life-giving rays. He agreed, if we could
make them understand and they were able to walk. So I tried.
First I directed the Ancient's attention to the mouth of the cave
which at this distance showed as a white circle of light. He
looked at it and then at me with grave inquiry. I made motions to
suggest that he should proceed there, repeating the word "Sun" in
the Orofenan tongue. He understood at once, though whether he
read my mind rather than what I said I am not sure. Apparently
the Glittering Lady understood also and seemed to be most anxious
to go. Only she looked rather pitifully at her feet and shook her
head. This decided me.
I do not know if I have mentioned anywhere that I am a tall man
and very muscular. She was tall, also, but as I judged not so
very heavy after her long fast. At any rate I felt quite certain
that I could carry her for that distance. Stooping down, I lifted
her up, signing to her to put her arms round my neck, which she
did. Then calling to Bickley and Bastin to bring along the
Ancient between them, with some difficulty I struggled out of the
sepulchre, and started down the cave. She was more heavy than I
thought, and yet I could have wished the journey longer. To begin
with she seemed quite trustful and happy in my arms, where she
lay with her head against my shoulder, smiling a little as a
child might do, especially when I had to stop and throw her long
hair round my neck like a muffler, to prevent it from trailing in
A bundle of lavender, or a truss of new-mown hay, could not
have been more sweet to carry and there was something electric
about the touch of her, which went through and through me. Very
soon it was over, and we were out of the cave into the full glory
of the tropical sun. At first, that her eyes might become
accustomed to its light and her awakened body to its heat, I set
her down where shadow fell from the overhanging rock, in a canvas
deck chair that had been brought by Marama with the other things,
throwing the rug about her to protect her from such wind as there
was. She nestled gratefully into the soft seat and shut her eyes,
for the motion had tired her. I noted, however, that she drew in
the sweet air with long breaths.
Then I turned to observe the arrival of the Ancient, who was
being borne between Bickley and Bastin in what children know as a
dandy-chair, which is formed by two people crossing their hands
in a peculiar fashion. It says much for the tremendous dignity of
his presence that even thus, with one arm round the neck of
Bickley and the other round that of Bastin, and his long white
beard falling almost to the ground, he still looked most
Unfortunately, however, just as they were emerging from the
cave, Bastin, always the most awkward of creatures, managed to
leave hold with one hand, so that his passenger nearly came to
the ground. Never shall I forget the look that he gave him.
Indeed, I think that from this moment he hated Bastin. Bickley he
respected as a man of intelligence and learning, although in
comparison with his own, the latter was infantile and crude; me
he tolerated and even liked; but Bastin he detested. The only one
of our party for whom he felt anything approaching real affection
was the spaniel Tommy.
We set him down, fortunately uninjured, on some rugs, and also
in the shadow. Then, after a little while, we moved both of them
into the sun. It was quite curious to see them expand there. As
Bickley said, what happened to them might well be compared to the
development of a butterfly which has just broken from the living
grave of its chrysalis and crept into the full, hot radiance of
the light. Its crinkled wings unfold, their brilliant tints
develop; in an hour or two it is perfect, glorious, prepared for
life and flight, a new creature.
So it was with this pair, from moment to moment they gathered
strength and vigour. Near-by to them, as it happened, stood a
large basket of the luscious native fruits brought that morning
by the Orofenans, and at these the Lady looked with longing. With
Bickley's permission, I offered them to her and to the Ancient,
first peeling them with my fingers. They ate of them greedily, a
full meal, and would have gone on had not the stern Bickley,
fearing untoward consequences, removed the basket. Again the
results were wonderful, for half an hour afterwards they seemed
to be quite strong. With my assistance the Glittering Lady, as I
still call her, for at that time I did not know her name, rose
from the chair, and, leaning on me, tottered a few steps forward.
Then she stood looking at the sky and all the lovely panorama of
nature beneath, and stretching out her arms as though in worship.
Oh! how beautiful she seemed with the sunlight shining on her
Now for the first time I heard her voice. It was soft and deep,
yet in it was a curious bell-like tone that seemed to vibrate
like the sound of chimes heard from far away. Never have I
listened to such another voice. She pointed to the sun whereof
the light turned her radiant hair and garments to a kind of
golden glory, and called it by some name that I could not
understand. I shook my head, whereon she gave it a different name
taken, I suppose, from another language. Again I shook my head
and she tried a third time. To my delight this word was
practically the same that the Orofenans used for "sun."
"Yes," I said, speaking very slowly, "so it is called by the
people of this land."
She understood, for she answered in much the same language:
"What, then, do you call it?"
"Sun in the English tongue," I replied.
"Sun. English," she repeated after me, then added, "How are you
"Humphrey," I answered.
"HumÄfe-Äry!" she said as though she were learning the word,
"Bastin and Bickley," I replied.
Over these patronymics she shook her head; as yet they were too
much for her.
"How are you named, Sleeper?" I asked.
"Yva," she answered.
"A beautiful name for one who is beautiful," I declared with
enthusiasm, of course always in the rich Orofenan dialect which
by now I could talk well enough.
She repeated the words once or twice, then of a sudden caught
their meaning, for she smiled and even coloured, saying hastily
with a wave of her hand towards the Ancient who stood at a
distance between Bastin and Bickley, "My father, Oro; great man;
great king; great god!"
At this information I started, for it was startling to learn
that here was the original Oro, who was still worshipped by the
Orofenans, although of his actual existence they had known
nothing for uncounted time. Also I was glad to learn that he was
her father and not her old husband, for to me that would have
been horrible, a desecration too deep for words.
"How long did you sleep, Yva?" I asked, pointing towards the
sepulchre in the cave.
After a little thought she understood and shook her head
hopelessly, then by an afterthought, she said,
"Stars tell Oro to-night."
So Oro was an astronomer as well as a king and a god. I had
guessed as much from those plates in the coffin which seemed to
have stars engraved on them.
At this point our conversation came to an end, for the Ancient
himself approached, leaning on the arm of Bickley who was engaged
in an animated argument with Bastin.
"For Heaven's sake!" said Bickley, "keep your theology to
yourself at present. If you upset the old fellow and put him in a
temper he may die."
"If a man tells me that he is a god it is my duty to tell him
that he is a liar," replied Bastin obstinately.
"Which you did, Bastin, only fortunately he did not understand
you. But for your own sake I advise you not to take liberties. He
is not one, I think, with whom it is wise to trifle. I think he
seems thirsty. Go and get some water from the rain pool, not from
Bastin departed and presently returned with an aluminum jug
full of pure water and a glass. Bickley poured some of it into a
glass and handed it to Yva who bent her head in thanks. Then she
did a curious thing. Having first lifted the glass with both
hands to the sky and held it so for a few seconds, she turned and
with an obeisance poured a little of it on the ground before her
A libation, thought I to myself, and evidently Bastin agreed
with me, for I heard him mutter,
"I believe she is making a heathen offering."
Doubtless we were right, for Oro accepted the homage by a
little motion of the head. After this, at a sign from him she
drank the water. Then the glass was refilled and handed to Oro
who also held it towards the sky. He, however, made no libation
but drank at once, two tumblers of it in rapid succession.
By now the direct sunlight was passing from the mouth of the
cave, and though it was hot enough, both of them shivered a
little. They spoke together in some language of which we could
not understand a word, as though they were debating what their
course of action should be. The dispute was long and earnest. Had
we known what was passing, which I learned afterwards, it would
have made us sufficiently anxious, for the point at issue was
nothing less than whether we should or should not be forthwith
destroyed--an end, it appears, that Oro was quite capable of
bringing about if he so pleased. Yva, however, had very clear
views of her own on the matter and, as I gather, even dared to
threaten that she would protect us by the use of certain powers
at her command, though what these were I do not know.
While the event hung doubtful Tommy, who was growing bored with
these long proceedings, picked up a bough still covered with
flowers which, after their pretty fashion, the Orofenans had
placed on the top of one of the baskets of food. This small bough
he brought and laid at the feet of Oro, no doubt in the hope that
he would throw it for him to fetch, a game in which the dog
delighted. For some reason Oro saw an omen in this simple canine
performance, or he may have thought that the dog was making an
offering to him, for he put his thin hand to his brow and thought
a while, then motioned to Bastin to pick up the bough and give it
Next he spoke to his daughter as though assenting to something,
for I saw her sigh in relief. No wonder, for he was conveying his
decision to spare our lives and admit us to their fellowship.
After this again they talked, but in quite a different tone and
manner. Then the Glittering Lady said to me in her slow and
"We go to rest. You must not follow. We come back perhaps
tonight, perhaps next night. We are quite safe. You are quite
safe under the beard of Oro. Spirit of Oro watch you. You
I said I understood, whereon she answered:
"Good-bye, O Humfe-ry."
"Good-bye, O Yva," I replied, bowing.
Thereon they turned and refusing all assistance from us,
vanished into the darkness of the cave leaning upon each other
and walking slowly.
Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Years!
"You seem to have made the best of your time, old fellow," said
Bickley in rather a sour voice.
"I never knew people begin to call each other by their
Christian names so soon," added Bastin, looking at me with a
"I know no other," I said.
"Perhaps not, but at any rate you have another, though you
don't seem to have told it to her. Anyway, I am glad they are
gone, for I was getting tired of being ordered by everybody to
carry about wood and water for them. Also I am terribly hungry as
I can't eat before it is light. They have taken most of the best
fruit to which I was looking forward, but thank goodness they do
not seem to care for pork."
"So am I," said Bickley, who really looked exhausted. "Get the
food, there's a good fellow. We'll talk afterwards."
When we had eaten, somewhat silently, I asked Bickley what he
made of the business; also whither he thought the sleepers had
"I think I can answer the last question," interrupted Bastin.
"I expect it is to a place well known to students of the Bible
which even Bickley mentions sometimes when he is angry. At any
rate, they seem to be very fond of heat, for they wouldn't part
from it even in their coffins, and you will admit that they are
not quite natural, although that Glittering Lady is so attractive
as regards her exterior."
Bickley waved these remarks aside and addressed himself to me.
"I don't know what to think of it," he said; "but as the
experience is not natural and everything in the Universe, so far
as we know it, has a natural explanation, I am inclined to the
belief that we are suffering from hallucinations, which in their
way are also quite natural. It does not seem possible that two
people can really have been asleep for an unknown length of time
enclosed in vessels of glass or crystal, kept warm by radium or
some such substance, and then emerge from them comparatively
strong and well. It is contrary to natural law."
"How about microbes?" I asked. "They are said to last
practically for ever, and they are living things. So in their
case your natural law breaks down."
"That is true," he answered. "Some microbes in a sealed tube
and under certain conditions do appear to possess indefinite
powers of life. Also radium has an indefinite life, but that is a
mineral. Only these people are not microbes nor are they
minerals. Also, experience tells us that they could not have
lived for more than a few months at the outside in such
circumstances as we seemed to find them."
"Then what do you suggest?"
"I suggest that we did not really find them at all; that we
have all been dreaming. You know that there are certain gases
which produce illusions, laughing gas is one of them, and that
these gases are sometimes met with in caves. Now there were very
peculiar odours in that place under the statue, which may have
worked upon our imaginations in some such way. Otherwise we are
up against a miracle, and, as you know, I do not believe in
"I do," said Bastin calmly. "You'll find all about it in the
Bible if you will only take the trouble to read. Why do you talk
such rubbish about gases?"
"Because only gas, or something of the sort, could have made us
"Nonsense, Bickley! Those people were here right enough. Didn't
they eat our fruit and drink the water I brought them without
ever saying thank you? Only, they are not human. They are evil
spirits, and for my part I don't want to see any more of them,
though I have no doubt Arbuthnot does, as that Glittering Lady
threw her arms round his neck when she woke up, and already he is
calling her by her Christian name, if the word Christian can be
used in connection with her. The old fellow had the impudence to
tell us that he was a god, and it is remarkable that he should
have called himself Oro, seeing that the devil they worship on
the island is also called Oro and the place itself is named
"As to where they have gone," continued Bickley, taking no
notice of Bastin, "I really don't know. My expectation is,
however, that when we go to look tomorrow morning--and I suggest
that we should not do so before then in order that we may give
our minds time to clear--we shall find that sepulchre place quite
empty, even perhaps without the crystal coffins we have imagined
to stand there."
"Perhaps we shall find that there isn't a cave at all and that
we are not sitting on a flat rock outside of it," suggested
Bastin with heavy sarcasm, adding, "You are clever in your way,
Bickley, but you can talk more rubbish than any man I ever knew."
"They told us they would come back tonight or tomorrow," I
said. "If they do, what will you say then, Bickley?"
"I will wait till they come to answer that question. Now let us
go for a walk and try to change our thoughts. We are all
over-strained and scarcely know what we are saying."
"One more question," I said as we rose to start. "Did Tommy
suffer from hallucinations as well as ourselves?"
"Why not?" answered Bickley. "He is an animal just as we are,
or perhaps we thought we saw Tommy do the things he did."
"When you found that basket of fruit, Bastin, which the natives
brought over in the canoe, was there a bough covered with red
flowers lying on the top of it?"
"Yes, Arbuthnot, one bough only; I threw it down on the rock as
it got in the way when I was carrying the basket."
"Which flowering bough we all thought we saw the Sleeper Oro
carry away after Tommy had brought it to him."
"Yes; he made me pick it up and give it to him," said Bastin.
"Well, if we did not see this it should still be lying on the
rock, as there has been no wind and there are no animals here to
carry it away. You will admit that, Bickley?"
"Then if it has gone you will admit also that the presumption
is that we saw what we thought we did see?"
"I do not know how that conclusion can be avoided, at any rate
so far as the incident of the bough is concerned," replied
Bickley with caution.
Then, without more words, we started to look. At the spot where
the bough should have been, there was no bough, but on the rock
lay several of the red flowers, bitten off, I suppose, by Tommy
while he was carrying it. Nor was this all. I think I have
mentioned that the Glittering Lady wore sandals which were
fastened with red studs that looked like rubies or carbuncles. On
the rock lay one of these studs. I picked it up and we examined
it. It had been sewn to the sandal-strap with golden thread or
silk. Some of this substance hung from the hole drilled in the
stone which served for an eye. It was as rotten as tinder,
apparently with extreme age. Moreover, the hard gem itself was
pitted as though the passage of time had taken effect upon it,
though this may have been caused by other agencies, such as the
action of the radium rays. I smiled at Bickley who looked
disconcerted and even sad. In a way it is painful to see the
effect upon an able and earnest man of the upsetting of his
We went for our walk, keeping to the flat lands at the foot of
the volcano cone, for we seemed to have had enough of wonders and
to desire to reassure ourselves, as it were, by the study of
natural and familiar things. As it chanced, too, we were rewarded
by sundry useful discoveries. Thus we found a place where the
bread-tree and other fruits, most of them now ripe, grew in
abundance, as did the yam. Also, we came to an inlet that we
noticed was crowded with large and beautiful fish from the lake,
which seemed to find it a favourite spot. Perhaps this was
because a little stream of excellent water ran in here,
overflowing from the great pool or mere which filled the crater
At these finds we rejoiced greatly, for now we knew that we
need not fear starvation even should our supply of food from the
main island be cut off. Indeed, by help of some palm-leaf stalks
which we wove together roughly, Bastin, who was rather clever at
this kind of thing, managed to trap four fish weighing two or
three pounds apiece, wading into the water to do so. It was
curious to observe with what ease he adapted himself to the
manners and customs of primeval man, so much so, indeed, that
Bickley remarked that if he could believe in re-incarnation, he
would be absolutely certain that Bastin was a troglodyte in his
last sojourn on the earth.
However this might be, Bastin's primeval instincts and
abilities were of the utmost service to us. Before we had been
many days on that island he had built us a kind of native hut or
house roofed with palm leaves in which, until provided with a
better, as happened afterwards, we ate and he and Bickley slept,
leaving the tent to me. Moreover, he wove a net of palm fibre
with which he caught abundance of fish, and made fishing-lines of
the same material (fortunately we had some hooks) which he baited
with freshwater mussels and the insides of fish. By means of
these he secured some veritable monsters of the carp species that
proved most excellent eating. His greatest triumph, however, was
a decoy which he constructed of boughs, wherein he trapped a
number of waterfowl. So that soon we kept a very good table of a
sort, especially after he had learned how to cook our food upon
the native plan by means of hot stones. This suited us admirably,
as it enabled Bickley and myself to devote all our time to
archaeological and other studies which did not greatly interest
By the time that we got back to camp it was drawing towards
evening, so we cooked our food and ate, and then, thoroughly
exhausted, made ourselves as comfortable as we could and went to
sleep. Even our marvelous experiences could not keep Bickley and
myself from sleeping, and on Bastin such things had no effect. He
accepted them and that was all, much more readily than we did,
indeed. Triple-armed as he was in the mail of a child-like faith,
he snapped his fingers at evil spirits which he supposed the
Sleepers to be, and at everything else that other men might
Now, as I have mentioned, after our talk with Marama, although
we did not think it wise to adventure ourselves among them again
at present, we had lost all fear of the Orofenans. In this
attitude, so far as Marama himself and the majority of his people
were concerned, we were quite justified, for they were our warm
friends. But in the case of the sorcerers, the priests and all
their rascally and superstitious brotherhood, we were by no means
justified. They had not forgiven Bastin his sacrilege or for his
undermining of their authority by the preaching of new doctrines
which, if adopted, would destroy them as a hierarchy. Nor had
they forgiven Bickley for shooting one of their number, or any of
us for our escape from the vengeance of their god.
So it came about that they made a plot to seize us all and hale
us off to be sacrificed to a substituted image of Oro, which by
now they had set up. They knew exactly where we slept upon the
rock; indeed, our fire showed it to them and so far they were not
afraid to venture, since here they had been accustomed for
generations to lay their offerings to the god of the Mountain.
Secretly on the previous night, without the knowledge of Marama,
they had carried two more canoes to the borders of the lake. Now
on this night, just as the moon was setting about three in the
morning, they made their attack, twenty-one men in all, for the
three canoes were large, relying on the following darkness to get
us away and convey us to the place of sacrifice to be offered up
at dawn and before Marama could interfere.
The first we knew of the matter, for most foolishly we had
neglected to keep a watch, was the unpleasant sensation of brawny
savages kneeling on us and trussing us up with palm-fibre ropes.
Also they thrust handfuls of dry grass into our mouths to prevent
us from calling out, although as air came through the interstices
of the grass, we did not suffocate. The thing was so well done
that we never struck a blow in self-defence, and although we had
our pistols at hand, much less could we fire a shot. Of course,
we struggled as well as we were able, but it was quite useless;
in three minutes we were as helpless as calves in a net and like
calves were being conveyed to the butcher. Bastin managed to get
the gag out of his mouth for a few seconds, and I heard him say
in his slow, heavy voice:
"This, Bickley, is what comes of trafficking with evil spirits
in museum cases--" There his speech stopped, for the grass wad
was jammed down his throat again, but distinctly I heard the
inarticulate Bickley snort as he conceived the repartee he was
unable to utter. As for myself, I reflected that the business
served us right for not keeping a watch, and abandoned the issue
Still, to confess the truth, I was infinitely more sorry to die
than I should have been forty-eight hours earlier. This is a dull
and in most ways a dreadful world, one, if we could only summon
the courage, that some of us would be glad to leave in search of
new adventures. But here a great and unprecedented adventure had
begun to befall me, and before its mystery was solved, before
even I could formulate a theory concerning it, my body must be
destroyed, and my intelligence that was caged therein, sent far
afield; or, if Bickley were right, eclipsed. It seemed so sad
just when the impossible, like an unguessed wandering moon, had
risen over the grey flats of the ascertained and made them shine
with hope and wonder.
They carried us off to the canoes, not too gently; indeed, I
heard the bony frame of Bastin bump into the bottom of one of
them and reflected, not without venom, that it served him right
as he was the fount and origin of our woes. Two stinking
magicians, wearing on their heads undress editions of their court
cages, since these were too cumbersome for active work of the
sort, and painted all over with various pigments, were just about
to swing me after him into the same, or another canoe, when
something happened. I did not know what it was, but as a result,
my captors left hold of me so that I fell to the rock, lying upon
Then, within my line of vision, which, it must be remembered,
was limited because I could not lift my head, appeared the upper
part of the tall person of the Ancient who said that he was named
Oro. I could only see him down to his middle, but I noted vaguely
that he seemed to be much changed. For instance, he wore a
different coloured dress, or rather robe; this time it was dark
blue, which caused me to wonder where on earth it came from.
Also, his tremendous beard had been trimmed and dressed, and on
his head there was a simple black cap, strangely quilted, which
looked as though it were made of velvet. Moreover, his face had
plumped out. He still looked ancient, it is true, and unutterably
wise, but now he resembled an antique youth, so great were his
energy and vigour. Also, his dark and glowing eyes shone with a
fearful intensity. In short, he seemed impressive and terrible
almost beyond imagining.
He looked about him slowly, then asked in a deep, cold voice,
speaking in the Orofenan tongue:
"What do you, slaves?"
No one seemed able to answer, they were too horror-stricken at
this sudden vision of their fabled god, whose fierce features of
wood had become flesh; they only turned to fly. He waved his thin
hand and they came to a standstill, like animals which have
reached the end of their tether and are checked by the chains
that bind them. There they stood in all sorts of postures,
immovable and looking extremely ridiculous in their paint and
feathers, with dread unutterable stamped upon their evil faces.
The Sleeper spoke again:
"You would murder as did your forefathers, O children of snakes
and hogs fashioned in the shape of men. You would sacrifice those
who dwell in my shadow to satisfy your hate because they are
wiser than you. Come hither thou," and he beckoned with a bony
finger to the chief magician.
The man advanced towards him in short jumps, as a mechanical
toy might do, and stood before him, his miniature crate and
feathers all awry and the sweat of terror melting the paint in
streaks upon his face.
"Look into the eyes of Oro, O worshipper of Oro," said the
Sleeper, and he obeyed, his own eyes starting out of his head.
"Receive the curse of Oro," said the Ancient again. Then
followed a terrible spectacle. The man went raving mad. He
bounded into the air to a height inconceivable. He threw himself
upon the ground and rolled upon the rock. He rose again and
staggered round and round, tearing pieces out of his arms with
his teeth. He yelled hideously like one possessed. He grovelled,
beating his forehead against the rock. Then he sat up, slowly
His companions seemed to catch the infection of death as
terrified savages often do. They too performed dreadful antics,
all except three of them who stood paralysed. They rushed about
battering each other with their fists and wooden weapons, looking
like devils from hell in their hideous painted attire. They
grappled and fought furiously. They separated and plunged into
the lake, where with a last grimace they sank like stones.
It seemed to last a long while, but I think that as a matter of
fact within five minutes it was over; they were all dead. Only
the three paralysed ones remained standing and rolling their
The Sleeper beckoned to them with his thin finger, and they
walked forward in step like soldiers.
"Lift that man from the boat," he said, pointing to Bastin,
"cut his bonds and those of the others."
They obeyed with a Wonderful alacrity. In a minute we stood at
liberty and were pulling the grass gags from our mouths. The
Ancient pointed to the head magician who lay dead upon the rock,
his hideous, contorted countenance staring open-eyed at heaven.
"Take that sorcerer and show him to the other sorcerers yonder,"
he said, "and tell them where your fellows are if they would find
them. Know by these signs that the Oro, god of the Mountain, who
has slept a while, is awake, and ill will it go with them who
question his power or dare to try to harm those who dwell in his
house. Bring food day by day and await commands. Begone!"
The dreadful-looking body was bundled into one of the canoes,
that out of which Bastin had emerged. A rower sprang into each of
them and presently was paddling as he had never done before. As
the setting moon vanished, they vanished with it, and once more
there was a great silence.
"I am going to find my boots," said Bastin. "This rock is hard
and I hurt my feet kicking at those poor fellows who appear to
have come to a bad end, how, I do not exactly understand.
Personally, I think that more allowances should have been made
for them, as I hope will be the case elsewhere, since after all
they only acted according to their lights."
"Curse their lights!" ejaculated Bickley, feeling his throat
which was bruised. "I'm glad they are out."
Bastin limped away in search of his boots, but Bickley and I
stood where we were contemplating the awakened Sleeper. All
recollection of the recent tumultuous scene seemed to have passed
from his mind, for he was engaged in a study of the heavens. They
were wonderfully brilliant now that the moon was down, brilliant
as they only can be in the tropics when the sky is clear.
Something caused me to look round, and there, coming towards
us, was she who said her name was Yva. Evidently all her weakness
had departed also, for now she needed no support, but walked with
a peculiar gliding motion that reminded me of a swan floating
forward on the water. Well had we named her the Glittering Lady,
for in the starlight literally she seemed to glitter. I suppose
the effect came from her golden raiment, which, however, I
noticed, as in her father's case, was not the same that she had
worn in the coffin; also from her hair that seemed to give out a
light of its own. At least, she shimmered as she came, her tall
shape swaying at every step like a willow in the wind. She drew
near, and I saw that her face, too, had filled out and now was
that of one in perfect health and vigour, while her eyes shone
softly and seemed wondrous large.
In her hands she carried those two plates of metal which I had
seen lying in the coffin of the Sleeper Oro. These she gave to
him, then fell back out of his hearing--if it were ever possible
to do this, a point on which I am not sure--and began to talk to
me. I noted at once that in the few hours during which she was
absent, her knowledge of the Orofenan tongue seemed to have
improved greatly as though she had drunk deeply from some hidden
fount of memory. Now she spoke it with readiness, as Oro had done
when he addressed the sorcerers, although many of the words she
used were not known to me, and the general form of her language
appeared archaic, as for instance that of Spenser is compared
with modern English. When she saw I did not comprehend her,
however, she would stop and cast her sentences in a different
shape, till at length I caught her meaning. Now I give the
substance of what she said.
"You are safe," she began, glancing first at the palm ropes
that lay upon the rock and then at my wrists, one of which was
"Yes, Lady Yva, thanks to your father."
"You should say thanks to me. My father was thinking of other
things, but I was thinking of you strangers, and from where I was
I saw those wicked ones coming to kill you."
"Oh! from the top of the mountain, I suppose."
She shook her head and smiled but vouchsafed no further
explanation, unless her following words can be so called. These
"I can see otherwise than with my eyes, if I choose." A
statement that caused Bickley, who was listening, to mutter:
"Impossible! What the deuce can she mean? Telepathy, perhaps."
"I saw," she continued, "and told the Lord, my father. He came
forth. Did he kill them? I did not look to learn."
"Yes. They lie in the lake, all except three whom he
sent away as messengers."
"I thought so. Death is terrible, O Humphrey, but it is a sword
which those, who rule must use to smite the wicked and the
Not wishing to pursue this subject, I asked her what her father
was doing with the metal plates.
"He reads the stars," she answered, "to learn how long we have
been asleep. Before we went to sleep he made two pictures of
them, as they were then and as they should be at the time he had
set for our awakening."
"We set that time," interrupted Bickley.
"Not so. O Bickley," she answered, smiling again. "In the
divine Oro's head was the time set. You were the hand that
executed his decree."
When Bickley heard this I really thought he would have burst.
However, he controlled himself nobly, being anxious to hear the
end of this mysterious fib.
"How long was the time that the lord Oro set apart for sleep?"
She paused as though puzzled to find words to express her
meaning, then held up her hands and said:
"Ten," nodding at her fingers. By second thoughts she took
Bickley's hands, not mine, and counted his ten fingers.
"Ten years," said Bickley. "Well, of course, it is impossible,
but perhaps--" and he paused.
"Ten tens," she went on with a deepening smile, "one hundred."
"O!" said Bickley.
"Ten hundreds, one thousand."
"I say!" said Bickley.