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When the World Shook

Part 7 out of 7

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thought that he glanced out of the corners of them towards the
chapel where we were hid. But this I think was fancy. For as Yva
said, his thoughts were set elsewhere.

He reached the statue of Fate and stood for a while
contemplating it and the suppliant figures on either side, as
though he were waiting for his invisible court to arrange itself.
Then he doffed his jewelled cap to the effigy, and knelt before
it. Yes, Oro the Ancient, the Super-man, the God, as the early
peoples of the earth fancied such a being, namely, one full of
wrath, revenge, jealousy, caprice and power, knelt in
supplication to this image of stone which he believed to be the
home of a spirit, thereby showing himself to be after all not so
far removed from the savages whose idol Bastin had destroyed.
More, in a clear and resonant voice which reached us even across
that great space, he put up his prayer. It ran something as
follows, for although I did not understand the language in which
he spoke Yva translated it to me in a whisper:

"God of the Sons of Wisdom, God of the whole earth, only God to
whom must bow every other Power and Dominion, to thee I, Oro the
Great King, make prayer and offer sacrifice. Twenty times ten
thousand years and more have gone by since I, Oro, visited this,
thy temple and knelt before this, thy living effigy, yet thou,
ruler of the world, dost remember the prayer I made and the
sacrifice I offered. The prayer was for triumph over my enemies
and the sacrifice a promise of the lives of half of those who in
that day dwelt upon the earth. Thou heardest the prayer, thou
didst bow thy head and accept the sacrifice. Yea, the prayer was
granted and the sacrifice was made, and in it were counted the
number of my foes.

"Then I slept. Through countless generations I slept on and at
my side was the one child of my body that was left to me. What
chanced to my spirit and to hers during that sleep, thou knowest
alone, but doubtless they went forth to work thy ends.

"At the appointed time which thou didst decree, I awoke again
and found in my house strangers from another land. In the company
of one of those whose spirit I drew forth, I visited the peoples
of the new earth, and found them even baser and more evil than
those whom I had known. Therefore, since they cannot be bettered.
I purpose to destroy them also, and on their wreck to rebuild a
glorious empire, such as was that of the Sons of Wisdom at its

"A sign! O Fate, ruler of the world, give me a sign that my
desire shall be fulfilled."

He paused, stretching out his arms and staring upwards. While
he waited I felt the solid rock on which I stood quiver and sway
beneath my feet so that Yva and I clung to each other lest we
should fall. This chanced also. The shock of the earth tremor,
for such without doubt it was, threw down the figures of the
ancient man and the lovely woman which knelt as though making
prayers to Fate, and shook the marble sword from off its knees.
As it fell Oro caught it by the hilt, and, rising, waved it in

"I thank thee, God of my people from the beginning," he cried.
"Thou hast given to me, thy last servant, thine own sword and I
will use it well. For these worshippers of thine who have fallen,
thou shalt have others, yes, all those who dwell in the new world
that is to be. My daughter and the man whom she has chosen to be
the father of the kings of the earth, and with him his
companions, shall be the first of the hundreds of millions that
are to follow, for they shall kiss thy feet or perish. Thou shalt
set thy foot upon the necks of all other gods; thou shalt rule
and thou alone, and, as of old, Oro be thy minister."

Still holding the sword, he flung himself down as though in an
ecstasy, and was silent.

"I read the omen otherwise," whispered Yva. "The worshippers of
Fate are overthrown. His sword of power is fallen, but not into
the hands that clasped it, and he totters on his throne. A
greater God asserts dominion of the world and this Fate is but
his instrument."

Oro rose again.

"One prayer more," he cried. "Give me life, long life, that I
may execute thy decrees. By word or gesture show me a sign that I
shall be satisfied with life, a year for every year that I have
lived, or twain!"

He waited, staring about him, but no token came; the idol did
not speak or bow its head, as Yva had told me it was wont to do
in sign of accepted prayer, how, she knew not. Only I thought I
heard the echo of Oro's cries run in a whisper of mockery round
the soaring dome.

Once more Oro flung himself upon his knees and began to pray in
a veritable agony.

"God of my forefathers, God of my lost people, I will hide
naught from thee," he said. "I who fear nothing else, fear death.
The priest-fool yonder with his new faith, has spoken blundering
words of judgment and damnation which, though I do not believe
them, yet stick in my heart like arrows. I will stamp out his
faith, and with this ancient sword of thine drive back the new
gods into the darkness whence they came. Yet what if some water
of Truth flows through the channel of his leaden lips, and what
if because I have ruled and will rule as thou didst decree,
therefore, in some dim place of souls, I must bear these burdens
of terror and of doom which I have bound upon the backs of
others! Nay, it cannot be, for what power is there in all the
universe that dares to make a slave of Oro and to afflict him
with stripes?

"Yet this can be and mayhap will be, that presently I lose my
path in the ways of everlasting darkness, and become strengthless
and forgotten as are those who went before me, while my crown of
Power shines on younger brows. Alas! I grow old, since aeons of
sleep have not renewed my strength. My time is short and yet I
would not die as mortals must. Oh! God of my people, whom I have
served so well, save me from the death I dread. For I would not
die. Give me a sign; give me the ancient, sacred sign!"

So he spoke, lifting his proud and splendid head and watching
the statue with wide, expectant eyes.

"Thou dost not answer," he cried again. "Wouldst thou desert
me, Fate? Then beware lest I set up some new god against thee and
hurl thee from thine immemorial throne. While I live I still have
powers, I who am the last of thy worshippers, since it seems that
my daughter turns her back on thee. I will get me to the
sepulchre of the kings and take counsel with the dust of that
wizard who first taught me wisdom. Even from the depths of death
he must come to my call clad in a mockery of life, and comfort
me. A little while yet I will wait, and if thou answer not, then
Fate, soon I'll tear the sceptre from thy hand, and thou shalt
join the company of dead gods." And throwing aside the sword,
again Oro laid down his head upon the ground and stretched out
his arms in the last abasement of supplication.

"Come," whispered Yva, "while there is yet time. Presently he
will seek this place to descend to the sepulchre, and if he
learns that we have read his heart and know him for a coward
deserted of his outworn god, surely he will blot us out. Come,
and be swift and silent."

We crept out of the chapel, Yva leading, and along the circle
of the great dome till we reached the gates. Here I glanced back
and perceived that Oro, looking unutterably small in that
vastness, looking like a dead man, still lay outstretched before
the stern-faced, unanswering Effigy which, with all his wisdom, he
believed to be living and divine. Perhaps once it was, but if
so its star had set for ever, like those of Amon, Jupiter and
Baal, and he was its last worshipper.

Now we were safe, but still we sped on till we reached the
portico of our sleeping place. Then Yva turned and spoke.

"It is horrible," she said, "and my soul sickens. Oh, I thank
the Strength which made it that I have no desire to rule the
earth, and, being innocent of death, do not fear to die and cross
his threshold."

"Yes, it is horrible," I answered. "Yet all men fear death."

"Not when they have found love, Humphrey, for that I think is
his true name, and, with it written on his brow, he stands upon
the neck of Fate who is still my father's god."

"Then he is not yours, Yva?"

"Nay. Once it was so, but now I reject him; he is no longer
mine. As Oro threatens, and perchance dare do in his rage, I have
broken his chain, though in another fashion. Ask me no more;
perhaps one day you will learn the path I trod to freedom."

Then before I could speak, she went off:

"Rest now, for within a few hours I must come to lead you and
your companions to a terrible place. Yet whatever you may see or
hear, be not afraid, Humphrey, for I think that Oro's god has no
power over you, strong though he was, and that Oro's plans will
fail, while I, who too have knowledge, shall find strength to
save the world."

Then of a sudden, once again she grew splendid, almost divine;
no more a woman but as it were an angel. Some fire of pure
purpose seemed to burn up in her and to shine out of her eyes.
Yet she said little. Only this indeed:

"To everyone, I think, there comes the moment of opportunity
when choice must be made between what is great and what is small,
between self and its desires and the good of other wanderers in
the way. This day that moment may draw near to you or me, and if
so, surely we shall greet it well. Such is Bastin's lesson, which
I have striven to learn."

Then she flung her arms about me and kissed me on the brow as a
mother might, and was gone.

Strangely enough, perhaps because of my mental exhaustion, for
what I had passed through seemed to overwhelm me so that I could
no longer so much as think with clearness, even after all that I
have described I slept like a child and awoke refreshed and well.

I looked at my watch to find that it was now eight o'clock in
the morning in this horrible place where there was neither morn,
nor noon, nor night, but only an eternal brightness that came I
knew not whence, and never learned.

I found that I was alone, since Bickley and Bastin had gone to
fill our bottles with the Life-water. Presently they returned and
we ate a little; with that water to drink one did not need much
food. It was a somewhat silent meal, for our circumstances were a
check on talk; moreover, I thought that the others looked at me
rather oddly. Perhaps they guessed something of my midnight visit
to the temple, but if so they thought it wisest to say nothing.
Nor did I enlighten them.

Shortly after we had finished Yva appeared. She was wonderfully
quiet and gentle in her manner, calm also, and greeted all of us
with much sweetness. Of our experiences during the night she said
no word to me, even when we were alone. One difference I noticed
about her, however; that she was clothed in garments such as I
had never seen her wear before. They were close fitting, save for
a flowing cape, and made of some grey material, not unlike a
coarse homespun or even asbestos cloth. Still they became her
very well, and when I remarked upon them, all she answered was
that part of our road would be rough. Even her feet were shod
with high buskins of this grey stuff.

Presently she touched Bastin on the shoulder and said that she
would speak with him apart. They went together into one of the
chambers of that dwelling and there remained for perhaps the half
of an hour. It was towards the end of this time that in the
intense silence I heard a crash from the direction of the temple,
as though something heavy had fallen to the rocky floor. Bickley
also heard this sound. When the two reappeared I noticed that
though still quite calm, Yva looked radiant, and, if I may say
so, even more human and womanly than I had ever seen her, while
Bastin also seemed very happy.

"One has strange experiences in life, yes, very strange," he
remarked, apparently addressing the air, which left me wondering
to what particular experience he might refer. Well, I thought
that I could guess.

"Friends," said Yva, "it is time for us to be going and I am
your guide. You will meet the Lord Oro at the end of your
journey. I pray you to bring those lamps of yours with you, since
all the road is not lightened like this place."

"I should like to ask," said Bickley, "whither we go and for
what object, points on which up to the present we have had no
definite information."

"We go, friend Bickley, deep into the bowels of the world, far
deeper, I think, than any mortal men have gone hitherto, that is,
of your race."

"Then we shall perish of heat," said Bickley, "for with every
thousand feet the temperature rises many degrees."

"Not so. You will pass through a zone of heat, but so swiftly
that if you hold your breath you will not suffer overmuch. Then
you will come to a place where a great draught blows which will
keep you cool, and thence travel on to the end."

"Yes, but to what end, Lady Yva?"

"That you will see for yourselves, and with it other wondrous

Here some new idea seemed to strike her, and after a little
hesitation she added:

"Yet why should you go? Oro has commanded it, it is true, but I
think that at the last he will forget. It must be decided
swiftly. There is yet time. I can place you in safety in the
sepulchre of Sleep where you found us. Thence cross to the main
island and sail away quickly in your boat out into the great sea,
where I believe you will find succour. Know that after disobeying
him, you must meet Oro no more lest it should be the worse for
you. If that be your will, let us start. What say you?"

She looked at me.

"I say, Yva, that I am willing to go if you come with us. Not

"I say," said Bickley, "that I want to see all this
supernatural rubbish thoroughly exploded, and that therefore I
should prefer to go on with the business."

"And I say," said Bastin, "that my most earnest desire is to be
clear of the whole thing, which wearies and perplexes me more
than I can tell. Only I am not going to run away, unless you
think it desirable to do so too, Lady Yva. I want you to
understand that I am not in the least afraid of the Lord Oro, and
do not for one moment believe that he will be allowed to bring
about disaster to the world, as I understand is his wicked
object. Therefore on the whole I am indifferent and quite
prepared to accept any decision at which the rest of you may

"Be it understood," said Yva with a little smile when Bastin
had finished his sermonette, "that I must join my father in the
bowels of the earth for a reason which will be made plain
afterwards. Therefore, if you go we part, as I think to meet no
more. Still my advice is that you should go." *

( * It is fortunate that we did not accept Yva's offer. Had we
done so we should have found ourselves shut in, and perished, as
shall be told.H. A. )

To this our only answer was to attend to the lighting of our
lamps and the disposal of our small impedimenta, such as our tins
of oil and water bottles. Yva noted this and laughed outright.

"Courage did not die with the Sons of Wisdom," she said.

Then we set out, Yva walking ahead of us and Tommy frisking at
her side.

Our road led us through the temple. As we passed the great
gates I started, for there, in the centre of that glorious
building, I perceived a change. The statue of Fate was no more!
It lay broken upon the pavement among those fragments of its two
worshippers which I had seen shaken down some hours before.

"What does this mean?" I whispered to Yva. "I have felt no
other earthquake."

"I do not know," she answered, "or if I know I may not say. Yet
learn that no god can live on without a single worshipper, and,
in a fashion, that idol was alive, though this you will not

"How very remarkable," said Bastin, contemplating the ruin. "If
I were superstitious, which I am not, I should say that this
occurrence was an omen indicating the final fall of a false god.
At any rate it is dead now, and I wonder what caused it?"

"I felt an earth tremor last night," said Bickley, "though it
is odd that it should only have affected this particular statue.
A thousand pities, for it was a wonderful work of art."

Then I remembered and reminded Bickley of the crash which we
had heard while Yva and Bastin were absent on some secret
business in the chamber.

Walking the length of the great church, if so it could be
called, we came to an apse at the head of it where, had it been
Christian, the altar would have stood. In this apse was a little
open door through which we passed. Beyond it lay a space of rough
rock that looked as though it had been partially prepared for the
erection of buildings and then abandoned. All this space was
lighted, however, like the rest of the City of Nyo, and in the
same mysterious way. Led by Yva, we threaded our path between the
rough stones, following a steep downward slope. Thus we walked
for perhaps half a mile, till at length we came to the mouth of a
huge pit that must, I imagine, have lain quite a thousand feet
below the level of the temple.

I looked over the edge of this pit and shrank back terrified.
It seemed to be bottomless. Moreover, a great wind rushed up it
with a roaring sound like to that of an angry sea. Or rather
there were two winds, perhaps draughts would be a better term, if
I may apply it to an air movement of so fierce and terrible a
nature. One of these rushed up the pit, and one rushed down. Or
it may have been that the up rush alternated with the down rush.
Really it is impossible to say.

"What is this place?" I asked, clinging to the others and
shrinking back in alarm from its sheer edge and bottomless depth,
for that this was enormous we could see by the shaft of light
which flowed downwards farther than the eye could follow.

"It is a vent up and down which air passes from and to the
central hollows of the earth," Yva answered. "Doubtless in the
beginning through it travelled that mighty force which blew out
these caves in the heated rocks, as the craftsman blows out

"I understand," said Bastin. "Just like one blows out a bubble
on a pipe, only on a larger scale. Well, it is very interesting,
but I have seen enough of it. Also I am afraid of being blown

"I fear that you must see more," answered Yva with a smile,
"since we are about to descend this pit."

"Do you mean that we are to go down that hole, and if so, how?
I don't see any lift, or moving staircase, or anything of that

"Easily and safely enough, Bastin. See."

As she spoke a great flat rock of the size of a small room
appeared, borne upwards, as I suppose, by the terrific draught
which roared past us on its upward course. When it reached the
lip of the shaft, it hung a little while, then moved across and
began to descend with such incredible swiftness that in a few
seconds it had vanished from view.

"Oh!" said Bastin, with his eyes almost starting out of his
head, "that's the lift, is it? Well, I tell you at once I don't
like the look of the thing. It gives me the creeps. Suppose it

"It does not tilt," answered Yva, still smiling. "I tell you,
Bastin, that there is naught to fear. Only yesterday, I rode this
rock and returned unharmed."

"That is all very well, Lady Yva, but you may know how to
balance it; also when to get on and off."

"If you are afraid, Bastin, remain here until your companions
return. They, I think, will make the journey."

Bickley and I intimated that we would, though to tell the
truth, if less frank we were quite as alarmed as Bastin.

"No, I'll come too. I suppose one may as well die this way as
any other, and if anything were to happen to them and I were left
alone, it would be worse still."

"Then be prepared," said Yva, "for presently this air-chariot
of ours will return. When it appears and hangs upon the edge,
step on to it and throw yourselves upon your faces and all will
be well. At the foot of the shaft the motion lessens till it
almost stops, and it is easy to spring, or even crawl to the firm

Then she stooped down and lifted Tommy who was sniffing
suspiciously at the edge of the pit, his long ears blown straight
above his head, holding him beneath her left arm and under her
cloak, that he might not see and be frightened.

We waited a while in silence, perhaps for five or six minutes,
among the most disagreeable, I think, that I ever passed. Then
far down in the brightness below appeared a black speck that
seemed to grow in size as it rushed upwards.

"It comes," said Yva. "Prepare and do as I do. Do not spring,
or run, lest you should go too far. Step gently on to the rock
and to its centre, and there lie down. Trust in me, all of you."

"There's nothing else to do," groaned Bastin.

The great stone appeared and, as before, hung at the edge of
the pit. Yva stepped on to it quietly, as she did so, catching
hold of my wrist with her disengaged hand. I followed her feeling
very sick, and promptly sat down. Then came Bickley with the air
of the virtuous hero of a romance walking a pirate's plank, and
also sat down. Only Bastin hesitated until the stone began to
move away. Then with an ejaculation of "Here goes!" he jumped
over the intervening crack of space and landed in the middle of
us like a sack of coal. Had I not been seated really I think he
would have knocked me off the rock. As it was, with one hand he
gripped me by the beard and with the other grasped Yva's robe, of
neither of which would he leave go for quite a long time,
although we forced him on to his face. The lantern which he held
flew from his grasp and descended the shaft on its own account.

"You silly fool!" exclaimed Bickley whose perturbation showed
itself in anger. "There goes one of our lamps."

"Hang the lamp!" muttered the prostrate Bastin. "We shan't want
it in Heaven, or the other place either."

Now the stone which had quivered a little beneath the impact of
Bastin, steadied itself again and with a slow and majestic
movement sailed to the other side of the gulf. There it felt the
force of gravity, or perhaps the weight of the returning air
pressed on it, which I do not know. At any rate it began to fall,
slowly at first, then more swiftly, and afterwards at an
incredible pace, so that in a few seconds the mouth of the pit
above us grew small and presently vanished quite away. I looked
up at Yva who was standing composedly in the midst of our
prostrate shapes. She bent down and called in my ear:

"All is well. The heat begins, but it will not endure for

I nodded and glanced over the edge of the stone at Bastin's
lantern which was sailing alongside of us, till presently we
passed it. Bastin had lit it before we started, I think in a
moment of aberration, and it burned for quite a long while,
showing like a star when the shaft grew darker as it did by
degrees, a circumstance that testifies to the excellence of the
make, which is one advertised not to go out in any wind. Not that
we felt wind, or even draught, perhaps because we were travelling
with it.

Then we entered the heat zone. About this there was no doubt,
for the perspiration burst out all over me and the burning air
scorched my lungs. Also Tommy thrust his head from beneath the
cloak with his tongue hanging out and his mouth wide open.

"Hold your breaths!" cried Yva, and we obeyed until we nearly
burst. At least I did, but what happened to the others I do not

Fortunately it was soon over and the air began to grow cool
again. By now we had travelled an enormous distance, it seemed to
be miles on miles, and I noticed that our terrific speed was
slackening, also that the shaft grew more narrow, till at length
there were only a few feet between the edge of the stone and its
walls. The result of this, or so I supposed, was that the
compressed air acted as a buffer, lessening our momentum, till at
length the huge stone moved but very slowly.

"Be ready to follow me," cried Yva again, and we rose to our
feet, that is, Bickley and I did, but poor Bastin was semi-
comatose. The stone stopped and Yva sprang from it to a rock
platform level with which it lay. We followed, dragging Bastin
between us. As we did so something hit me gently on the head. It
was Bastin's lamp, which I seized.

"We are safe. Sit down and rest," said Yva, leading us a few
paces away.

We obeyed and presently by the dim light saw the stone begin to
stir again, this time upwards. In another twenty seconds it was
away on its never-ending journey.

"Does it always go on like that?" said Bastin, sitting up and
staring after it.

"Tens of thousands of years ago it was journeying thus, and
tens of thousands of years hence it will still be journeying, or
so I think," she replied. "Why not, since the strength of the
draught never changes and there is nothing to wear it except the

Somehow the vision of this huge stone, first loosed and set in
motion by heaven knows what agency, travelling from aeon to aeon
up and down that shaft in obedience to some law I did not
understand, impressed my imagination like a nightmare. Indeed I
often dream of it to this day.

I looked about me. We were in some cavernous place that could
be but dimly seen, for here the light that flowed down the shaft
from the upper caves where it was mysteriously created, scarcely
shone, and often indeed was entirely cut off, when the ever-
journeying stone was in the narrowest parts of the passage. I
could see, however, that this cavern stretched away both to right
and left of us, while I felt that from the left, as we sat facing
the shaft, there drew down a strong blast of fresh air which
suggested that somewhere, however far away, it must open on to
the upper world. For the rest its bottom and walls seemed to be
smooth as though they had been planed in the past ages by the
action of cosmic forces. Bickley noticed this the first and
pointed it out to me. We had little time to observe, however, for
presently Yva said:

"If you are rested, friends, I pray you light those lamps of
yours, since we must walk a while in darkness."

We did and started, still travelling downhill. Yva walked ahead
with me and Tommy who seemed somewhat depressed and clung close
to our heels. The other two followed, arguing strenuously about I
know not what. It was their way of working off irritation and

I asked Yva what was about to happen, for a great fear
oppressed me.

"I am not sure, Beloved," she answered in a sweet and gentle
voice, "who do not know all Oro's secrets, but as I think, great
things. We are now deep in the bowels of the world, and
presently, perhaps, you will see some of its mighty forces
whereof your ignorant races have no knowledge, doing their
everlasting work."

"Then how is it that we can breathe here?" I asked. "Because
this road that we are following connects with the upper air or
used to do so, since once I followed it. It is a long road and
the climb is steep, but at last it leads to the light of the
blessed sun, nor are there any pitfalls in the path. Would that
we might tread it together, Humphrey," she added with passion,
"and be rid of mysteries and the gloom, or that light which is
worse than gloom."

"Why not?" I asked eagerly. "Why should we not turn and flee?"

"Who can flee from my father, the Lord Oro?" she replied. "He
would snare us before we had gone a mile. Moreover, if we fled,
by tomorrow half the world must perish."

"And how can we save it by not flying, Yva?"

"I do not know, Humphrey, yet I think it will be saved,
perchance by sacrifice. That is the keystone of your faith, is it
not? Therefore if it is asked of you to save the world, you will
not shrink from it, will you, Humphrey?"

"I hope not," I replied, without enthusiasm, I admit. Indeed it
struck me that a business of this sort was better fitted to
Bastin than to myself, or at any rate to his profession. I think
she guessed my thoughts, for by the light of the lamp I saw her
smile in her dazzling way. Then after a swift glance behind her,
she turned and suddenly kissed me, as she did so calling down
everlasting blessings on my head and on my spirit. There was
something very wonderful about this benediction of Yva's and it
thrilled me through and through, so that to it I could make no

Next moment it was too late to retreat, for our narrowing
passage turned and we found ourselves in a wondrous place. I call
it wondrous because of it we could see neither the beginning nor
the end, nor the roof, nor aught else save the rock on which we
walked, and the side or wall that our hands touched. Nor was this
because of darkness, since although it was not illuminated like
the upper caverns, light of a sort was present. It was a very
strange light, consisting of brilliant and intermittent flashes,
or globes of blue and lambent flame which seemed to leap from
nowhere into nowhere, or sometimes to hang poised in mid air.

"How odd they are," said the voice of Bastin behind me. "They
remind me of those blue sparks which jump up from the wires of
the tramways in London on a dark night. You know, don't you,
Bickley? I mean when the conductor pulls round that long stick
with an iron wheel on the top of it."

"Nobody but you could have thought of such a comparison,
Bastin," answered Bickley. "Still, multiplied a thousandfold they
are not unlike."

Nor indeed were they, except that each blue flash was as big as
the full moon and in one place or another they were so continuous
that one could have read a letter by their light. Also the effect
of them was ghastly and most unnatural, terrifying, too, since
even their brilliance could not reveal the extent of that
gigantic hollow in the bowels of the world wherein they leapt to
and fro like lightnings, or hung like huge, uncanny lanterns.

Chapter XXV


"The air in this place must be charged with some form of
electricity, but the odd thing is that it does not seem to harm
us," said Bickley in a matter-of-fact fashion as though he were
determined not to be astonished.

"To me it looks more like marsh fires or St. Elmo lights,
though how these can be where there is no vapour, I do not know,"
I answered.

As I spoke a particularly large ball of flame fell from above.
It resembled a shooting star or a meteor more than anything else
that I had ever seen, and made me wonder whether we were not
perhaps standing beneath some inky, unseen sky.

Next moment I forgot such speculations, for in its blue light,
which made him terrible and ghastly, I perceived Oro standing in
front of us clad in a long cloak.

"Dear me!" said Bastin, "he looks just like the devil, doesn't
he, and now I come to think of it, this isn't at all a bad
imitation of hell."

"How do you know it is an imitation?" asked Bickley.

"Because whatever might be the case with you, Bickley, if it
were, the Lady Yva and I should not be here."

Even then I could not help smiling at this repartee, but the
argument went no further for Oro held up his hand and Yva bent
the knee in greeting to him.

"So you have come, all of you," he said. "I thought that
perhaps there were one or two who would not find courage to ride
the flying stone. I am glad that it is not so, since otherwise he
who had shown himself a coward should have had no share in the
rule of that new world which is to be. Therefore I chose yonder
road that it might test you."

"Then if you will be so good as to choose another for us to
return by, I shall be much obliged to you, Oro," said Bastin.

"How do you know that if I did it would not be more terrible,
Preacher? How do you know indeed that this is not your last
journey from which there is no return?"

"Of course I can't be sure of anything, Oro, but I think the
question is one which you might more appropriately put to
yourself. According to your own showing you are now extremely old
and therefore your end is likely to come at any moment. Of
course, however, if it did you would have one more journey to
make, but it wouldn't be polite for me to say in what direction."

Oro heard, and his splendid, icy face was twisted with sudden
rage. Remembering the scene in the temple where he had grovelled
before his god, uttering agonised, unanswered prayers for added
days, I understood the reason of his wrath. It was so great that
I feared lest he should kill Bastin (who only a few hours before,
be it remembered, had tried to kill him) then and there, as
doubtless he could have done if he wished. Fortunately, if he
felt it; the impulse passed.

"Miserable fool!" he said. "I warn you to keep a watch upon
your words. Yesterday you would have slain me with your toy.
Today you stab me with your ill-omened tongue. Be fearful lest I
silence it for ever."

"I am not in the least fearful, Oro, since I am sure that you
can't hurt me at all any more than I could hurt you last night
because, you see, it wasn't permitted. When the time comes for me
to die, I shall go, but you will have nothing to do with that. To
tell the truth, I am very sorry for you, as with all your
greatness, your soul is of the earth, earthy, also sensual and
devilish, as the Apostle said, and, I am afraid, very malignant,
and you will have a great deal to answer for shortly. Yours won't
be a happy deathbed, Oro, because, you see, you glory in your
sins and don't know what repentance means."

I must add that when I heard these words I was filled with the
most unbounded admiration for Bastin's fearless courage which
enabled him thus to beard this super-tyrant in his den. So indeed
were we all, for I read it in Yva's face and heard Bickley

"Bravo! Splendid! After all there is something in faith!"

Even Oro appreciated it with his intellect, if not with his
heart, for he stared at the man and made no answer. In the
language of the ring, he was quite "knocked out" and, almost
humbly, changed the subject.

"We have yet a little while," he said, "before that happens
which I have decreed. Come, Humphrey, that I may show you some of
the marvels of this bubble blown in the bowels of the world," and
he motioned to us to pick up the lanterns.

Then he led us away from the wall of the cavern, if such it
was, for a distance of perhaps six or seven hundred paces. Here
suddenly we came to a great groove in the rocky floor, as broad
as a very wide roadway, and mayhap four feet in depth. The bottom
of this groove was polished and glittered; indeed it gave us the
impression of being iron, or other ore which had been welded
together beneath the grinding of some immeasurable weight. Just
at the spot where we struck the groove, it divided into two, for
this reason.

In its centre the floor of iron, or whatever it may have been,
rose, the fraction of an inch at first, but afterwards more
sharply, and this at a spot where the groove had a somewhat steep
downward dip which appeared to extend onwards I know not how far.

Following along this central rise for a great way, nearly a
mile, I should think, we observed that it became ever more
pronounced, till at length it ended in a razor-edge cliff which
stretched up higher than we could see, even by the light of the
electrical discharges. Standing against the edge of this cliff,
we perceived that at a distance from it there were now two
grooves of about equal width. One of these ran away into the
darkness on our right as we faced the sharp edge, and at an ever-
widening angle, while the other, at a similar angle, ran into the
darkness to the left of the knife of cliff. That was all.

No, there were two more notable things. Neither of the grooves
now lay within hundreds of yards of the cliff, perhaps a quarter
of a mile, for be it remembered we had followed the rising rock
between them. To put it quite clearly, it was exactly as though
one line of rails had separated into two lines of rails, as often
enough they do, and an observer standing on high ground between
could see them both vanishing into tunnels to the right and left,
but far apart.

The second notable thing was that the right-hand groove, where
first we saw it at the point of separation, was not polished like
the left-hand groove, although at some time or other it seemed to
have been subjected to the pressure of the same terrific weight
which cut its fellow out of the bed of rock or iron, as the sharp
wheels of a heavily laden wagon sink ruts into a roadway.

"What does it all mean, Lord Oro?" I asked when he had led us
back to the spot where the one groove began to be two grooves,
that is, a mile or so away from the razor-edged cliff.

"This, Humphrey," he answered. "That which travels along yonder
road, when it reaches this spot on which we stand, follows the
left-hand path which is made bright with its passage. Yet, could
a giant at that moment of its touching this exact spot on which I
lay my hand, thrust it with sufficient strength, it would leave
the left-hand road and take the right-hand road."

"And if it did, what then; Lord Oro?"

"Then within an hour or so, when it had travelled far enough
upon its way, the balance of the earth would be changed, and
great things would happen in the world above, as once they
happened in bygone days. Now do you understand, Humphrey?"

"Good Heavens! Yes, I understand now," I answered. "But
fortunately there is no such giant."

Oro broke into a mocking laugh and his grey old face lit up
with a fiendish exultation, as he cried:

"Fool! I, Oro, am that giant. Once in the dead days I turned
the balance of the world from the right-hand road which now is
dull with disuse, to the left-hand road which glitters so
brightly to your eyes, and the face of the earth was changed. Now
again I will turn it from the left-hand road to the right-hand
road in which for millions of years it was wont to run, and once
more the face of the earth shall change, and those who are left
living upon the earth, or who in the course of ages shall come to
live upon the new earth, must bow down to Oro and take him and
his seed to be their gods and kings."

When I heard this I was overwhelmed and could not answer. Also
I remembered a certain confused picture which Yva had shown to us
in the Temple of Nyo. But supported by his disbelief, Bickley

"And how often does the balance of which you speak come this
way, Lord Oro?"

"Once only in many years; the number is my secret, Bickley," he

"Then there is every reason to hope that it will not trouble
us," remarked Bickley with a suspicion of mockery in his voice.

"Do you think so, you learned Bickley?" asked Oro. "If so, I do
not. Unless my skill has failed me and my calculations have gone
awry, that Traveller of which I tell should presently be with us.
Hearken now! What is that sound we hear?"

As he spoke there reached our ears the first, far-off murmurs
of a dreadful music. I cannot describe it in words because that
is impossible, but it was something like to the buzz of a
thousand humming-tops such as are loved by children because of
their weird song.

"Back to the wall!" cried Oro triumphantly. "The time is

So back we went, Oro pausing a while behind and overtaking us
with long, determined strides. Yva led us, gliding at my side
and, as I thought, now and again glanced at my face with a look
that was half anxious and half pitiful. Also twice she stooped
and patted Tommy.

We reached the wall, though not quite at the spot whence we had
started to examine the grooved roads. at least I think this was
so, since now for the first time observed a kind of little window
in its rocky face. It stood about five feet from its floor level,
and was perhaps ten inches square, not more. In short, except for
its shape it resembled a ship's porthole rather than a window.
Its substance appeared to be talc, or some such material, and
inches thick, yet through it, after Oro had cast aside some sort
of covering, came a glare like that of a search-light. In fact it
was a search-light so far as concerned one of its purposes.

By this window or porthole lay a pile of cloaks, also four
objects which looked like Zulu battle shields cut in some unknown
metal or material. Very deftly, very quietly, Yva lifted these
cloaks and wrapped one of them about each of us, and while she
was thus employed I noticed that they were of a substance very
similar to that of the gown she wore, which I have described, but
harder. Next she gave one of the metal-like shields to each of
us, bidding us hold them in front of our bodies and heads, and
only to look through certain slits in them in which were
eyepieces that appeared to be of the same horny stuff as the
searchlight window. Further, she commanded us to stand in a row
with our backs against the rock wall, at certain spots which she
indicated with great precision, and whatever we saw or heard on
no account to move.

So there we stood, Bickley next to me, and beyond him Bastin.
Then Yva took the fourth shield, as I noted a much larger one
than ours, and placed herself between me and the search-light or
porthole. On the other side of this was Oro who had no shield.

These arrangements took some minutes and during that time
occupied all our attention. When they were completed, however,
our curiosity and fear began to reassert themselves. I looked
about me and perceived that Oro had his right hand upon what
seemed to be a rough stone rod, in shape not unlike that with
which railway points are moved. He shouted to us to stand still
and keep the shields over our faces. Then very gently he pressed
upon the lever. The porthole sank the fraction of an inch, and
instantly there leapt from it a most terrific blaze of lightning,
which shot across the blackness in front and, as lightning does,
revealed far, far away another wall, or rather cliff, like that
against which we leant.

"All works well," exclaimed Oro in a satisfied voice, lifting
his hand from the rod, "and the strength which I have stored will
be more than enough."

Meanwhile the humming noise came nearer and grew in volume.

"I say," said Bickley, "as you know, I have been sceptical, but
I don't like this business. Oro, what are you going to do?"

"Sink half the world beneath the seas," said Oro, "and raise up
that which I drowned more than two thousand centuries ago. But as
you do not believe that I have this power, Bickley, why do you
ask such questions?"

"I believe that you have it, which was why I tried to shoot you
yesterday," said Bastin. "For your soul's sake I beg you to
desist from an attempt which I am sure will not succeed, but
which will certainly involve your eternal damnation, since the
failure will be no fault of yours."

Then I spoke also, saying:

"I implore you, Lord Oro, to let this business be. I do not
know exactly how much or how little you can do, but I understand
that your object is to slay men by millions in order to raise up
another world of which you will be the absolute king, as you were
of some past empire that has been destroyed, either through your
agency or otherwise. No good can come of such ambitions. Like
Bastin, for your soul's sake I pray you to let them be."

"What Humphrey says I repeat," said Yva. "My Father, although
you know it not, you seek great evil, and from these hopes you
sow you will harvest nothing save a loss of which you do not
dream. Moreover, your plans will fail. Now I who am, like
yourself, of the Children of Wisdom, have spoken, for the first
and last time, and my words are true. I pray you give them
weight, my Father."

Oro heard, and grew furious.

"What!" he said. "Are you against me, every one, and my own
daughter also? I would lift you up, I would make you rulers of a
new world; I would destroy your vile civilisations which I have
studied with my eyes, that I may build better! To you, Humphrey,
I would give my only child in marriage that from you may spring a
divine race of kings! And yet you are against me and set up your
puny scruples as a barrier across my path of wisdom. Well, I
tread them down, I go on my appointed way. But beware how you try
to hold me back. If any one of you should attempt to come between
me and my ends, know that I will destroy you all. Obey or die."

"Well, he has had his chance and he won't take it," said Bastin
in the silence that followed. "The man must go to the devil his
own way and there is nothing more to be said."

I say the silence, but it was no more silent. The distant
humming grew to a roar, the roar to a hellish hurricane of sound
which presently drowned all attempts at ordinary speech.

Then bellowing like ten millions of bulls, at length far away
there appeared something terrible. I can only describe its
appearance as that of an attenuated mountain on fire. When it
drew nearer I perceived that it was more like a ballet-dancer
whirling round and round upon her toes, or rather all the
ballet-dancers in the world rolled into one and then multiplied a
million times in size. No, it was like a mushroom with two
stalks, one above and one below, or a huge top with a point on
which it spun, a swelling belly and another point above. But what
a top! It must have been two thousand feet high, if it was an
inch, and its circumference who could measure?

On it came, dancing, swaying and spinning at a rate
inconceivable, so that it looked like a gigantic wheel of fire.
Yet it was not fire that clothed it but rather some
phosphorescence, since from it came no heat. Yes, a
phosphorescence arranged in bands of ghastly blue and lurid red,
with streaks of other colours running up between, and a kind of
waving fringe of purple.

The fire-mountain thundered on with a voice like to that of
avalanches or of icebergs crashing from their parent glaciers to
the sea. Its terrific aspect was appalling, and its weight caused
the solid rock to quiver like a leaf. Watching it, we felt as
ants might feel at the advent of the crack of doom, for its mere
height and girth and size overwhelmed us. We could not even
speak. The last words I heard were from the mouth of Oro who
screamed out:

"Behold the balance of the World, you miserable, doubting men,
and behold me change its path--turning it as the steersman turns
a ship!"

Then he made certain signs to Yva, who in obedience to them
approached the porthole or search-light to which she did
something that I could not distinguish. The effect was to make
the beam of light much stronger and sharper, also to shift it on
to the point or foot of the spinning mountain and, by an aiming
of the lens from time to time, to keep it there.

This went on for a while, since the dreadful thing did not
travel fast notwithstanding the frightful speed of its
revolutions. I should doubt indeed if it advanced more quickly
than a man could walk; at any rate so it seemed to us. But we had
no means of judging its real rate of progress whereof we knew as
little as we did of the course it followed in the bowels of the
earth. Perhaps that was spiral, from the world's deep heart
upwards, and this was the highest point it reached. Or perhaps it
remained stationary, but still spinning, for scores or hundreds
of years in some central powerhouse of its own, whence, in
obedience to unknown laws, from time to time it made these
terrific journeys.

No one knows, unless perhaps Oro did, in which case he kept the
information to himself, and no one will ever know. At any rate
there it was, travelling towards us on its giant butt, the peg of
the top as it were, which, hidden in a cloud of friction-born
sparks that enveloped it like the cup of a curving flower of
fire, whirled round and round at an infinite speed. It was on
this flaming flower that the search-light played steadily,
doubtless that Oro might mark and measure its monstrous progress.

"He is going to try to send the thing down the right-hand
path," I shouted into Bickley's ear.

"Can't be done! Nothing can shift a travelling weight of tens
of millions of tons one inch," Bickley roared back, trying to
look confident.

Clearly, however, Yva thought that it could be done, for of a
sudden she cast down her shield and, throwing herself upon her
knees, stretched out her hands in supplication to her father. I
understood, as did we all, that she was imploring him to abandon
his hellish purpose. He glared at her and shook his head. Then,
as she still went on praying, he struck her across the face with
his hand and pushed her to her feet again. My blood boiled as I
saw it and I think I should have sprung at him, had not Bickley
caught hold of me, shouting, "Don't, or he will kill her and us

Yva lifted her shield and returned to her station, and in the
blue discharges which now flashed almost continuously, and the
phosphorescent glare of the advancing mountain, I saw that though
her beautiful face worked beneath the pain of the blow, her eyes
remained serene and purposeful. Even then I wondered--what was
the purpose shining through them. Also I wondered if I was about
to be called upon to make that sacrifice of which she had spoken,
and if so, how. Of one thing I was determined--that if the call
came it should not find me deaf. Yet all the while I was horribly

At another sign from Oro, Yva did something more to the lens--
again, being alongside of her, I could not see what it was. The
beam of light shifted and wandered till, far away, it fell
exactly upon that spot where the rock began to rise into the
ridge which separated the two grooves or roads and ended in the
razor-edged cliff. Moreover I observed that Oro, who left it the
last of us, had either placed something white to mark this first
infinitesimal bulging of the floor of the groove, or had smeared
it with chalk or shining pigment. I observed also what I had not
been able to see before, that a thin white line ran across the
floor, no doubt to give the precise direction of this painted
rise of rock, and that the glare of the search-light now lay
exactly over that line.

The monstrous, flaming gyroscope fashioned in Nature's
workshop, for such without doubt it was, was drawing near,
emitting as it came a tumult of sounds which, with the echoes
that they caused, almost over-whelmed our senses. Poor little
Tommy, already cowed, although he was a bold-natured beast, broke
down entirely, and I could see from his open mouth that he was
howling with terror. He stared about him, then ran to Yva and
pawed at her, evidently asking to be taken into her arms. She
thrust him away, almost fiercely, and made signs to me to lift
him up and hold him beneath my shield. This I did, reflecting
sadly that if I was to be sacrificed, Tommy must share my fate. I
even thought of passing him on to Bickley, but had no time.
Indeed I could not attract his attention, for Bickley was staring
with all his eyes at the nightmare-like spectacle which was in
progress about us. Indeed no nightmare, no wild imagination of
which the mind of man is capable, could rival the aspect of its
stupendous facts.

Think of them! The unmeasured space of blackness threaded by
those globes of ghastly incandescence that now hung a while and
now shot upwards, downwards, across, apparently without origin or
end, like a stream of meteors that had gone mad. Then the
travelling mountain, two thousand feet in height, or more, with
its enormous saucer-like rim painted round with bands of lurid
red and blue, and about its grinding foot the tulip bloom of
emitted flame. Then the fierce-faced Oro at his post, his hand
upon the rod, waiting, remorseless, to drown half of this great
world, with the lovely Yva standing calm-eyed like a saint in
hell and watching me above the edge of the shield which such a
saint might bear to turn aside the fiery darts of the wicked. And
lastly we three men flattened terror-stricken, against the wall.

Nightmare! Imagination! No, these pale before that scene which
it was given to our human eyes to witness.

And all the while, bending, bowing towards us--away from us--
making obeisance to the path in front as though in greeting, to
the path behind as though in farewell; instinct with a horrible
life, with a hideous and gigantic grace, that titanic Terror
whirled onwards to the mark of fate.

At the moment nothing could persuade me that it was not alive
and did not know its awful mission. Visions flashed across my
mind. I thought of the peoples of the world sleeping in their
beds, or going about their business, or engaged even in the work
of war. I thought of the ships upon the seas steaming steadily
towards their far-off ports. Then I thought of what presently
might happen to them, of the tremors followed by convulsions, of
the sudden crashing down of cities, such as we had seen in the
picture Yva showed us in the Temple, of the inflow of the waters
of the deep piled up in mighty waves, of the woe and desolation
as of the end of the world, and of the quiet, following death. So
I thought and in my heart prayed to the great Arch-Architect of
the Universe to stretch out His Arm to avert this fearsome ruin
of His handiwork.

Oro glared, his thin fingers tightened their grip upon the rod,
his hair and long beard seemed to bristle with furious and
delighted excitement. The purple-fringed rim of the Monster had
long overshadowed the whited patch of rock; its grinding foot was
scarce ten yards away. Oro made more signs to Yva who, beneath
the shelter of her shield, again bent down and did something that
I could not see. Then, as though her part were played, she rose,
drew the grey hood of her cloak all about her face so that her
eyes alone remained visible, took one step towards me and in the
broken English we had taught her, called into my ear.

"Humphrey, God you bless! Humphrey, we meet soon. Forget not

She stepped back again before I could attempt to answer, and
next instant with a hideous, concentrated effort, Oro bending
himself double, thrust upon the rod, as I could see from his open
mouth, shouting while he thrust.

At the same moment, with a swift spring, Yva leapt immediately
in front of the lens or window, so that the metallic shield with
which she covered herself pressed against its substance.

Simultaneously Oro flung up his arms as though in horror.

Too late! The shutter fell and from behind it there sprang out
a rush of living flame. It struck on Yva's shield and expanded to
right and left. The insulated shield and garments that she wore
seemed to resist it. For a fraction of time she stood there like
a glowing angel, wrapped in fire.

Then she was swept outwards and upwards and at a little
distance dissolved like a ghost and vanished from our sight.

Yva was ashes! Yva was gone! The sacrifice was consummated!

And not in vain! Not in vain! On her poor breast she had
received the full blast of that hellish lightning flash. Yet
whilst destroying, it turned away from her, seeking the free
paths of the air. So it came about that its obstructed strength
struck the foot of the travelling gyroscope, diffused and did not
suffice to thrust it that one necessary inch on which depended
the fate of half the world, or missing it altogether, passed away
on either side. Even so the huge, gleaming mountain rocked and
trembled. Once, twice, thrice, it bowed itself towards us as
though in majestic homage to greatness passed away. For a second,
too, its course was checked, and at the check the earth quaked
and trembled. Yes, then the world shook, and the blue globes of
fire went out, while I was thrown to the ground.

When they returned again, the flaming monster was once more
sailing majestically upon its way and down the accustomed
left-hand path!

Indeed the sacrifice was not in vain. The world shook--but Yva
had saved the world!

Chapter XXVI


I lay still a while, on my back as I had fallen, and beneath
the shield-like defence which Yva had given to me.
Notwithstanding the fire-resisting, metalised stuff of which it
was made, I noted that it was twisted and almost burnt through.
Doubtless the stored-up electricity or earth magnetism, or
whatever it may have been that had leapt out of that hole, being
diffused by the resistance with which it was met, had grazed me
with its outer edge, and had it not been for the shield and
cloak, I also should have been burned up. I wished, oh! how I
wished that it had been so. Then, by now all must have finished
and I should have known the truth as to what awaits us beyond the
change: sleep, or dreams, or perchance the fullest life. Also I
should not have learned alone.

Lying there thus, idly, as though in a half-sleep, I felt Tommy
licking my face, and throwing my arm about the poor little
frightened beast, I watched the great world-balance as it
retreated on its eternal journey. At one time its vast projecting
rim had overshadowed us and almost seemed to touch the cliff of
rock against which we leant. I remember that the effect of that
shining arch a thousand feet or so above our heads was wonderful.
It reminded me of a canopy of blackest thunder clouds supported
upon a framework of wheeling rainbows, while beneath it all the
children of the devil shouted together in joy. I noted this
effect only a few seconds before Yva spoke to me and leapt into
the path of the flash.

Now, however, it was far away, a mere flaming wheel that became
gradually smaller, and its Satanic voices were growing faint. As
I have said, I watched its disappearance idly, reflecting that I
should never look upon its like again; also that it was something
well worth going forth to see. Then I became aware that the
humming, howling din had decreased sufficiently to enable me to
hear human voices without effort. Bastin was addressing Bickley--
like myself they were both upon the ground.

"Her translation, as you may have noticed, Bickley, if you were
not too frightened, was really very remarkable. No doubt it will
have reminded you, as it did me, of that of Elijah. She had
exactly the appearance of a person going up to Heaven in a
vehicle of fire. The destination was certainly the same, and even
the cloak she wore added a familiar touch and increased the

"At any rate it did not fall upon you," answered Bickley with
something like a sob, in a voice of mingled awe and exasperation.
"For goodness' sake! Bastin, stop your Biblical parallels and let
us adore, yes, let us adore the divinest creature that the earth
has borne!"

Never have I loved Bickley more than when I heard him utter
those words.

"'Divinest' is a large term, Bickley, and one to which I
hesitate to subscribe, remembering as I do certain of the
prophets and the Early Fathers with all their faults, not of
course to mention the Apostles. But--" here he paused, for
suddenly all three of us became aware of Oro.

He also has been thrown to the ground by the strength of the
prisoned forces which he gathered and loosed upon their unholy
errand, but, as I rejoiced to observe, had suffered from them
much more than ourselves. Doubtless this was owing to the fact
that he had sprung forward in a last wild effort to save his
daughter, or to prevent her from interfering with his experiment,
I know not which. As a result his right cheek was much scorched,
his right arm was withered and helpless, and his magnificent
beard was half burnt off him. Further, very evidently he was
suffering from severe shock, for he rocked upon his feet and
shook like an aspen leaf. All this, however, did not interfere
with the liveliness of his grief and rage.

There he stood, a towering shape, like a lightning-smitten
statue, and cursed us, especially Bastin.

"My daughter has gone!" he cried, "burned up by the fiery power
that is my servant. Nothing remains of her but dust, and, Priest,
this is your doing. You poisoned her heart with your childish
doctrines of mercy and sacrifice, and the rest, so that she threw
herself into the path of the flash to save some miserable races
that she had never even known."

He paused exhausted, whereon Bastin answered him with spirit:

"Yes, Oro, she being a holy woman, has gone where you will
never follow her. Also it is your own fault since you should have
listened to her entreaties instead of boxing her ears like the
brute you are."

"My daughter is gone," went on Oro, recovering his strength,
"and my great designs are ruined. Yet only for a while," he
added, "for the world-balance will return again, if not till long
after your life-spans are done."

"If you don't doctor yourself, Lord Oro," said Bickley, also
rising, "I may tell you as one who understands such things, that
most likely it will be after your life-span is done also. Although
their effect may be delayed, severe shocks from burns and over-
excitement are apt to prove fatal to the aged."

Oro snarled at him; no other word describes it.

"And there are other things, Physician," he said, "which are
apt to prove fatal to the young. At least now you will no longer
deny my power."

"I am not so sure," answered Bickley, "since it seems that
there is a greater Power, namely that of a woman's love and

"And a greater still," interrupted Bastin, "Which put those
ideas into her head."

"As for you, Humphrey," went on Oro, "I rejoice to think that
you at least have lost two things that man desires above all
other things--the woman you sought and the future kingship of the

I stood up and faced him.

"The first I have gained, although how, you do not understand,
Oro," I answered. "And of the second, seeing that it would have
come through you, on your conditions, I am indeed glad to be rid.
I wish no power that springs from murder, and no gifts from one
who answered his daughter's prayer with blows."

For a moment he seemed remorseful.

"She vexed me with her foolishness," he said. Then his rage
blazed up again:

"And it was you who taught it to her," he went on. "You are
guilty, all three of you, and therefore I am left with none to
serve me in my age; therefore also my mighty schemes are

"Also, Oro, if you speak truth, therefore half the world is
saved," I added quietly, "and one has left it of whom it was

"You think that these civilisations of yours, as you are
pleased to call them, are saved, do you?" he sneered. "Yet, even
if Bickley were right and I should die and become powerless, I
tell you that they are already damned. I have studied them in
your books and seen them with my eyes, and I say that they are
rotten before ever they are ripe, and that their end shall be the
end of the Sons of Wisdom, to die for lack of increase. That is
why I would have saved the East, because in it alone there is
increase, and thence alone can rise the great last race of man
which I would have given to your children for an heritage.
Moreover, think not that you Westerners have done with wars. I
tell you that they are but begun and that the sword shall eat you
up, and what the sword spares class shall snatch from class in
the struggle for supremacy and ease."

Thus he spoke with extraordinary and concentrated bitterness
that I confess would have frightened me, had I been capable of
fear, which at the moment I was not. Who is afraid when he has
lost all?

Nor was Bastin alarmed, if for other reasons.

"I think it right to tell you, Oro," he said, "that the only
future you need trouble about is your own. God Almighty will look
after the western civilisations in whatever way He may think
best, as you may remember He did just now. Only I am sure you
won't be here to see how it is done."

Again fury blazed in Oro's eyes.

"At least I will look after you, you half-bred dogs, who yap
out ill-omened prophecies of death into my face. Since the three
of you loved my daughter whom you brought to her doom, and were
by her beloved, if differently, I think it best that you should
follow on her road. How? That is the question? Shall I leave you
to starve in these great caves?--Nay, look not towards the road
of escape which doubtless she pointed out to you, for, as
Humphrey knows, I can travel swiftly and I will make sure that
you find it blocked. Or shall I--" and he glanced upwards at the
great globes of wandering fire, as though he purposed to summon
them to be our death, as doubtless he could have done.

"I do not care what you do," I answered wearily. "Only I would
beg you to strike quickly. Yet for my friends I am sorry, since
it was I who led them on this quest, and for you, too, Tommy," I
added, looking at the poor little hound. "You were foolish,
Tommy," I went on, "when you scented out that old tyrant in his
coffin, at least for our own sake."

Indeed the dog was terribly scared. He whined continually and
from time to time ran a little way and then returned to us,
suggesting that we should go from this horror-haunted spot.
Lastly, as though he understood that it was Oro who kept us
there, he went to him and jumping up, licked his hand in a
beseeching fashion.

The super-man looked at the dog and as he looked the rage went
out of his face and was replaced by something resembling pity.

"I do not wish the beast to die," he muttered to himself in
low reflective tones, as though he thought aloud, "for of them
all it alone liked and did not fear me. I might take it with me
but still it would perish of grief in the loneliness of the
caves. Moreover, she loved it whom I shall see no more; yes,
Yva--" as he spoke the name his voice broke a little. "Yet if I
suffer them to escape they will tell my story to the world and
make me a laughingstock. Well, if they do, what does it matter?
None of those Western fools would believe it; thinking that they
knew all; like Bickley they would mock and say that they were
mad, or liars."

Again Tommy licked his hand, but more confidently, as though
instinct told him something of what was passing in Oro's mind. I
watched with an idle wonder, marvelling whether it were possible
that this merciless being would after all spare us for the sake
of the dog.

So, strange to say, it came about, for suddenly Oro looked up
and said:

"Get you gone, and quickly, before my mood changes. The hound
has saved you. For its sake I give you your lives, who otherwise
should certainly have died. She who has gone pointed out to you,
I doubt not, a road that runs to the upper air. I think that it
is still open. Indeed," he added, closing his eyes for a moment,
"I see that it is still open, if long and difficult. Follow it,
and should you win through, take your boat and sail away as
swiftly as you can. Whether you die or live I care nothing, but
my hands will be clean of your blood, although yours are stained
with Yva's. Begone! and my curse go with you."

Without waiting for further words we went to fetch our
lanterns, water-bottles and bag of food which we had laid down at
a little distance. As we approached them I looked up and saw Oro
standing some way off. The light from one of the blue globes of
fire which passed close above his head, shone upon him and made
him ghastly. Moreover, it seemed to me as though approaching
death had written its name upon his malevolent countenance.

I turned my head away, for about his aspect in those sinister
surroundings there was something horrible, something menacing and
repellent to man and of him I wished to see no more. Nor indeed
did I, for when I glanced in that direction again Oro was gone. I
suppose that he had retreated into the shadows where no light

We gathered up our gear, and while the others were relighting
the lanterns, I walked a few paces forward to the spot where Yva
had been dissolved in the devouring fire. Something caught my eye
upon the rocky floor. I picked it up. It was the ring, or rather
the remains of the ring that I had given her on that night when
we declared our love amidst the ruins by the crater lake. She had
never worn it on her hand but for her own reasons, as she told
me, suspended it upon her breast beneath her robe. It was an
ancient ring that I had bought in Egypt, fashioned of gold in
which was set a very hard basalt or other black stone. On this
was engraved the ank or looped cross, which was the Egyptian
symbol of Life, and round it a snake, the symbol of Eternity. The
gold was for the most part melted, but the stone, being so hard
and protected by the shield and asbestos cloak, for such I
suppose it was, had resisted the fury of the flash. Only now it
was white instead of black, like a burnt onyx that had known the
funeral pyre. Indeed, perhaps it was an onyx. I kissed it and hid
it away, for it seemed to me to convey a greeting and with it a

Then we started, a very sad and dejected trio. Leaving with a
shudder that vast place where the blue lights played eternally,
we came to the shaft up and down which the travelling stone
pursued its endless path, and saw it arrive and depart again.

"I wonder he did not send us that way," said Bickley, pointing
to it.

"I am sure I am very glad it never occurred to him," answered
Bastin, "for I am certain that we could not have made the journey
again without our guide, Yva."

I looked at him and he ceased. Somehow I could not bear, as
yet, to hear her beloved name spoken by other lips.

Then we entered the passage that she pointed out to us, and
began a most terrible journey which, so far as we could judge,
for we lost any exact count of time, took us about sixty hours.
The road, it is true, was smooth and unblocked, but the ascent
was fearfully steep and slippery; so much so that often we were
obliged to pull each other up it and lie down to rest.

Had it not been for those large, felt-covered bottles of Life-
water, I am sure we should never have won through. But this
marvelous elixir, drunk a little at a time, always re-
invigorated us and gave us strength to push on. Also we had some
food, and fortunately our spare oil held out, for the darkness in
that tunnel was complete. Tommy became so exhausted that at
length we must carry him by turns. He would have died had it not
been for the water; indeed I thought that he was going to die.

After our last rest and a short sleep, however, he seemed to
begin to recover, and generally there was something in his manner
which suggested to us that he knew himself to be not far from the
surface of the earth towards which we had crawled upwards for
thousands upon thousands of feet, fortunately without meeting
with any zone of heat which was not bearable.

We were right, for when we had staggered forward a little
further, suddenly Tommy ran ahead of us and vanished. Then we
heard him barking but where we could not see, since the tunnel
appeared to take a turn and continue, but this time on a downward
course, while the sound of the barks came from our right. We
searched with the lanterns which were now beginning to die and
found a little hole almost filled with fallen pieces of rock. We
scooped these away with our hands, making an aperture large
enough to creep through. A few more yards and we saw light, the
blessed light of the moon, and in it stood Tommy barking
hoarsely. Next we heard the sound of the sea. We struggled on
desperately and presently pushed our way through bushes and
vegetation on to a steep declivity. Down this we rolled and
scrambled, to find ourselves at last lying upon a sandy beach,
whilst above us the full moon shone in the heavens.

Here, with a prayer of thankfulness, we flung ourselves down
and slept.

If it had not been for Tommy and we had gone further along the
tunnel, which I have little doubt stretched on beneath the sea,
where, I wonder, should we have slept that night?

When we woke the sun was shining high in the heavens. Evidently
there had been rain towards the dawn, though as we were lying
beneath the shelter of some broad-leaved tree, from it we had
suffered little inconvenience. Oh! how beautiful, after our
sojourn in those unholy caves, were the sun and the sea and the
sweet air and the raindrops hanging on the leaves.

We did not wake of ourselves; indeed if we had been left alone
I am sure that we should have slept the clock round, for we were
terribly exhausted. What woke us was the chatter of a crowd of
Orofenans who were gathered at a distance from the tree and
engaged in staring at us in a frightened way, also the barks of
Tommy who objected to their intrusion. Among the people I
recognised our old friend the chief Marama by his feather cloak,
and sitting up, beckoned to him to approach. After a good deal of
hesitation he came, walking delicately like Agag, and stopping
from time to time to study us, as though he were not sure that we
were real.

"What frightens you, Marama?" I asked him.

"You frighten us, O Friend-from-the-Sea. Whence did you and the
Healer and the Bellower come and why do your faces look like
those of ghosts and why is the little black beast so large-eyed
and so thin? Over the lake we know you did not come, for we have
watched day and night; moreover there is no canoe upon the shore.
Also it would not have been possible."

"Why not?" I asked idly.

"Come and see," he answered.

Rising stiffly we emerged from beneath the tree and perceived
that we were at the foot of the cliff against which the remains
of the yacht had been borne by the great tempest. Indeed there it
was within a couple of hundred yards of us.

Following Marama we climbed the sloping path which ran up the
cliff and ascended a knoll whence we could see the lake and the
cone of the volcano in its centre. At least we used to be able to
see this cone, but now, at any rate with the naked eye, we could
make out nothing, except a small brown spot in the midst of the
waters of the lake.

"The mountain which rose up many feet in that storm which
brought you to Orofena, Friend-from-the-Sea, has now sunk till
only the very top of it is to be seen," said Marama solemnly.
"Even the Rock of Offerings has vanished beneath the water, and
with it the house that we built for you."

"Yes," I said, affecting no surprise. "But when did that

"Five nights ago the world shook, Friend-from-the-Sea, and when
the sun rose we saw that the mouth of the cave which appeared on
the day of your coming, had vanished, and that the holy mountain
itself had sunk deep, so that now only the crest of it is left
above the water."

"Such things happen," I replied carelessly.

"Yes, Friend-from-the-Sea. Like many other marvels they happen
where you and your companions are. Therefore we beg you who can
arise out of the earth like spirits, to leave us at once before
our island and all of us who dwell thereon are drowned beneath
the ocean. Leave us before we kill you, if indeed you be men, or
die at your hands if, as we think, you be evil spirits who can
throw up mountains and drag them down, and create gods that slay,
and move about in the bowels of the world."

"That is our intention, for our business here is done," I
answered calmly. "Come now and help us to depart. But first bring
us food. Bring it in plenty, for we must victual our boat."

Marama bowed and issued the necessary orders. Indeed food
sufficient for our immediate needs was already there as an
offering, and of it we ate with thankfulness.

Then we boarded the ship and examined the lifeboat. Thanks to
our precautions it was still in very fair order and only needed
some little caulking which we did with grass fibre and pitch from
the stores. After this with the help of the Orofenans who worked
hard in their desperate desire to be rid of us, we drew the boat
into the sea, and provisioned her with stores from the ship, and
with an ample supply of water. Everything being ready at last, we
waited for the evening wind which always blew off shore, to
start. As it was not due for half an hour or more, I walked back
to the tree under which we had slept and tried to find the hole
whence we had emerged from the tunnel on to the face of the

My hurried search proved useless. The declivity of the cliff
was covered with tropical growth, and the heavy rain had washed
away every trace of our descent, and very likely filled the hole
itself with earth. At any rate, of it I could discover nothing.
Then as the breeze began to blow I returned to the boat and here
bade adieu to Marama, who gave me his feather cloak as a farewell

"Good-bye, Friend-from-the-Sea," he said to me. "We are glad to
have seen you and thank you for many things. But we do not wish
to see you any more."

"Good-bye, Marama," I answered. "What you say, we echo. At
least you have now no great lump upon your neck and we have rid
you of your wizards. But beware of the god Oro who dwells in the
mountain, for if you anger him he will sink your island beneath
the sea."

"And remember all that I have taught you," shouted Bastin.

Marama shivered, though whether at the mention of the god Oro,
of whose powers the Orofenans had so painful a recollection, or
at the result of Bastin's teachings, I do not know. And that was
the last we shall ever see of each other in this world.

The island faded behind us and, sore at heart because of all
that we had found and lost again, for three days we sailed
northward with a fair and steady wind. On the fourth evening by
an extraordinary stroke of fortune, we fell in with an American
tramp steamer, trading from the South Sea Islands to San
Francisco. To the captain, who treated us very kindly, we said
simply that we were a party of Englishmen whose yacht had been
wrecked on a small island several hundreds of miles away, of
which we knew neither the name, if it had one, nor the position.

This story was accepted without question, for such things often
happen in those latitudes, and in due course we were landed at
San Francisco, where we made certain depositions before the
British Consul as to the loss of the yacht Star of the South.
Then we crossed America, having obtained funds by cable, and
sailed for England in a steamer flying the flag of the United

Of the great war which made this desirable I do not speak since
it has nothing, or rather little, to do with this history. In the
end we arrived safely at Liverpool, and thence travelled to our
homes in Devonshire.

Thus ended the history of our dealings with Oro, the super-man
who began his life more than two hundred and fifty thousand years
ago, and with his daughter, Yva, whom Bastin still often calls
the Glittering Lady.

Chapter XXVII

Bastin Discovers a Resemblance

There is little more to tell.

Shortly after our return Bickley, like a patriotic Englishman,
volunteered for service at the front and departed in the uniform
of the R.A.M.C. Before he left he took the opportunity of
explaining to Bastin how much better it was in such a national
emergency as existed, to belong to a profession in which a man
could do something to help the bodies of his countrymen that had
been broken in the common cause, than to one like his in which it
was only possible to pelt them with vain words.

"You think that, do you, Bickley?" answered Bastin. "Well, I
hold that it is better to heal souls than bodies, because, as
even you will have learned out there in Orofena, they last so
much longer."

"I am not certain that I learned anything of the sort," said
Bickley, "or even that Oro was more than an ordinary old man. He
said that he had lived a thousand years, but what was there to
prove this except his word, which is worth nothing?"

"There was the Lady Yva's word also, which is worth a great
deal, Bickley."

"Yes, but she may have meant a thousand moons. Further, as
according to her own showing she was still quite young, how could
she know her father's age?"

"Quite so, Bickley. But all she actually said was that she was
of the same age as one of our women of twenty-seven, which may
have meant two hundred and seventy for all I know. However,
putting that aside you will admit that they had both slept for
two hundred and fifty thousand years."

"I admit that they slept, Bastin, because I helped to awaken
them, but for how long there is nothing to show, except those
star maps which are probably quite inaccurate."

"They are not inaccurate," I broke in, "for I have had them
checked by leading astronomers who say that they show a
marvelous knowledge of the heavens as these were two hundred and
fifty thousand years ago, and are today."

Here I should state that those two metal maps and the ring
which I gave to Yva and found again after the catastrophe, were
absolutely the only things connected with her or with Oro that we
brought away with us. The former I would never part with, feeling
their value as evidence. Therefore, when we descended to the city
Nyo and the depths beneath, I took them with me wrapped in cloth
in my pocket. Thus they were preserved. Everything else went when
the Rock of Offerings and the cave mouth sank beneath the waters
of the lake.

This may have happened either in the earth tremor, which no
doubt was caused by the advance of the terrific world-balance, or
when the electric power, though diffused and turned by Yva's
insulated body, struck the great gyroscope's travelling foot with
sufficient strength, not to shift it indeed on to the right-hand
path as Oro had designed, but still to cause it to stagger and
even perhaps to halt for the fraction of a second. Even this
pause may have been enough to cause convulsions of the earth
above; indeed, I gathered from Marama and other Orofenans that
such convulsions had occurred on and around the island at what
must have corresponded with that moment of the loosing of the

This loss of our belongings in the house of the Rock of
Offerings was the more grievous because among them were some
Kodak photographs which I had taken, including portraits of Oro
and one of Yva that was really excellent, to say nothing of
pictures of the mouth of the cave and of the ruins and crater
lake above. How bitterly I regret that I did not keep these
photographs in my pocket with the map-plates.

"Even if the star-maps are correct, still it proves nothing,"
said Bickley, "since possibly Oro's astronomical skill might have
enabled him to draw that of the sky at any period, though I allow
this is impossible."

"I doubt his taking so much trouble merely to deceive three
wanderers who lacked the knowledge even to check them," I said.
"But all this misses the point, Bickley. However long they had
slept, that man and woman did arise from seeming death. They did
dwell in those marvelous caves with their evidences of departed
civilisations, and they did show us that fearful, world-wandering
gyroscope. These things we saw."

"I admit that we saw them, Arbuthnot, and I admit that they are
one and all beyond human comprehension. To that extent I am
converted, and, I may add, humbled," said Bickley.

"So you ought to be," exclaimed Bastin, "seeing that you always
swore that there was nothing in the world that is not capable of
a perfectly natural explanation."

"Of which all these things may be capable, Bastin, if only we
held the key."

"Very well, Bickley, but how do you explain what the Lady Yva
did? I may tell you now what she commanded me to conceal at the
time, namely, that she became a Christian; so much so that by her
own will, I baptised and confirmed her on the very morning of her
sacrifice. Doubtless it was this that changed her heart so much
that she became willing, of course without my knowledge, to leave
everything she cared for," here he looked hard at me, "and lay
down her life to save the world, half of which she believed was
about to be drowned by Oro. Now, considering her history and
upbringing, I call this a spiritual marvel, much greater than any
you now admit, and one you can't explain, Bickley."

"No, I cannot explain, or, at any rate, I will not try," he
answered, also staring hard at me. "Whatever she believed, or did
not believe, and whatever would or would not have happened, she
was a great and wonderful woman whose memory I worship."

"Quite so, Bickley, and now perhaps you see my point, that what
you describe as mere vain words may also be helpful to mankind;
more so, indeed, than your surgical instruments and pills."

"You couldn't convert Oro, anyway," exclaimed Bickley, with

"No, Bickley; but then I have always understood that the devil
is beyond conversion because he is beyond repentance. You see, I
think that if that old scoundrel was not the devil himself, at
any rate he was a bit of him, and, if I am right, I am not
ashamed to have failed in his case."

"Even Oro was not utterly bad, Bastin," I said, reflecting on
certain traits of mercy that he had shown, or that I dreamed him
to have shown in the course of our mysterious midnight journeys
to various parts of the earth. Also I remembered that he had
loved Tommy and for his sake had spared our lives. Lastly, I do
not altogether wonder that he came to certain hasty conclusions
as to the value of our modern civilisations.

"I am very glad to hear it, Humphrey, since while there is a
spark left the whole fire may burn up again, and I believe that
to the Divine mercy there are no limits, though Oro will have a
long road to travel before he finds it. And now I have something
to say. It has troubled me very much that I was obliged to leave
those Orofenans wandering in a kind of religious twilight."

"You couldn't help that," said Bickley, "seeing that if you had
stopped, by now you would have been wandering in religious

"Still, I am not sure that I ought not to have stopped. I seem
to have deserted a field that was open to me. However, it can't
be helped, since it is certain that we could never find that
island again, even if Oro has not sunk it beneath the sea, as he
is quite capable of doing, to cover his tracks, so to speak. So I
mean to do my best in another field by way of atonement."

"You are not going to become a missionary?" I said.

"No, but with the consent of the Bishop, who, I think, believes
that my locum got on better in the parish than I do, as no doubt
was the case, I, too, have volunteered for the Front, and been
accepted as a chaplain of the 201st Division."

"Why, that's mine!" said Bickley.

"Is it? I am very glad, since now we shall be able to pursue
our pleasant arguments and to do our best to open each other's

"You fellows are more fortunate than I am," I remarked. "I also
volunteered, but they wouldn't take me, even as a Tommy, although
I misstated my age. They told me, or at least a specialist whom I
saw did afterwards, that the blow I got on the head from that
sorcerer's boy--"

"I know, I know!" broke in Bickley almost roughly. "Of course,
things might go wrong at any time. But with care you may live to
old age."

"I am sorry to hear it," I said with a sigh, "at least I think
I am. Meanwhile, fortunately there is much that I can do at home;
indeed a course of action has been suggested to me by an old
friend who is now in authority."

Once more Bickley and Bastin in their war-stained uniforms were
dining at my table and on the very night of their return from the
Front, which was unexpected. Indeed Tommy nearly died of joy on
hearing their voices in the hall. They, who played a worthy part
in the great struggle, had much to tell me, and naturally their
more recent experiences had overlaid to some extent those which
we shared in the mysterious island of Orofena. Indeed we did not
speak of these until, just as they were going away, Bastin paused
beneath a very beautiful portrait of my late wife, the work of an
artist famous for his power of bringing out the inner character,
or what some might call the soul, of the sitter. He stared at it
for a while in his short-sighted way, then said: "Do you know,
Arbuthnot, it has sometimes occurred to me, and never more than
at this moment, that although they were different in height and
so on, there was a really curious physical resemblance between
your late wife and the Lady Yva."

"Yes," I answered. "I think so too."

Bickley also examined the portrait very carefully, and as he
did so I saw him start. Then he turned away, saying nothing.

Such is the summary of all that has been important in my life.
It is, I admit, an odd story and one which suggests problems that
I cannot solve. Bastin deals with such things by that acceptance
which is the privilege and hall-mark of faith; Bickley disposes,
or used to dispose, of them by a blank denial which carries no
conviction, and least of all to himself.

What is life to most of us who, like Bickley, think ourselves
learned? A round, short but still with time and to spare wherein
to be dull and lonesome; a fateful treadmill to which we were
condemned we know not how, but apparently through the casual
passions of those who went before us and are now forgotten,
causing us, as the Bible says, to be born in sin; up which we
walk wearily we know not why, seeming never to make progress; off
which we fall outworn we know not when or whither.

Such upon the surface it appears to be, nor in fact does our
ascertained knowledge, as Bickley would sum it up, take us much
further. No prophet has yet arisen who attempted to define either
the origin or the reasons of life. Even the very Greatest of them
Himself is quite silent on this matter. We are tempted to wonder
why. Is it because life as expressed in the higher of human
beings, is, or will be too vast, too multiform and too glorious
for any definition which we could understand? Is it because in
the end it will involve for some, if not for all, majesty on
unfathomed majesty, and glory upon unimaginable glory such as at
present far outpass the limits of our thought?

The experiences which I have recorded in these pages awake in
my heart a hope that this may be so. Bastin is wont, like many
others, to talk in a light fashion of Eternity without in the
least comprehending what he means by that gigantic term. It is
not too much to say that Eternity, something without beginning
and without end, and involving, it would appear, an everlasting
changelessness, is a state beyond human comprehension. As a
matter of fact we mortals do not think in constellations, so to
speak, or in aeons, but by the measures of our own small earth and
of our few days thereon. We cannot really conceive of an
existence stretching over even one thousand years, such as that
which Oro claimed and the Bible accords to a certain early race
of men, omitting of course his two thousand five hundred
centuries of sleep. And yet what is this but one grain in the
hourglass of time, one day in the lost record of our earth, of
its sisters the planets and its father the sun, to say nothing of
the universes beyond?

It is because I have come in touch with a prolonged though
perfectly finite existence of the sort, that I try to pass on the
reflections which the fact of it awoke in me. There are other
reflections connected with Yva and the marvel of her love and its
various manifestations which arise also. But these I keep to
myself. They concern the wonder of woman's heart, which is a
microcosm of the hopes and fears and desires and despairs of this
humanity of ours whereof from age to age she is the mother.


By J. R. Bickley, M.R.C.S.

WITHIN about six months of the date on which he wrote the last
words of this history of our joint adventures, my dear friend,
Humphrey Arbuthnot, died suddenly, as I had foreseen that
probably he would do, from the results of the injury he received
in the island of Orofena.

He left me the sole executor to his will, under which he
divided his property into three parts. One third he bequeathed to
me, one third (which is strictly tied up) to Bastin, and one
third to be devoted, under my direction, to the advancement of

His end appears to have been instantaneous, resulting from an
effusion of blood upon the brain. When I was summoned I found him
lying dead by the writing desk in his library at Fulcombe Priory.
He had been writing at the desk, for on it was a piece of paper
on which appear these words: "I have seen her. I--" There the
writing ends, not stating whom he thought he had seen in the
moments of mental disturbance or delusion which preceded his

Save for certain verbal corrections, I publish this manuscript
without comment as the will directs, only adding that it sets out
our mutual experiences very faithfully, though Arbuthnot's
deductions from them are not always my own.

I would say also that I am contemplating another visit to the
South Sea Islands, where I wish to make some further
investigations. I dare say, however, that these will be barren of
results, as the fountain of Life-water is buried for ever, nor,
as I think, will any human being stand again in the Hades-like
halls of Nyo. It is probable also that it would prove impossible
to rediscover the island of Orofena, if indeed that volcanic land
still remains above the waters of the deep.

Now that he is a very wealthy man, Bastin talks of accompanying
me for purposes quite different from my own, but on the whole I
hope he will abandon this idea. I may add that when he learned of
his unexpected inheritance he talked much of the "deceitfulness
of riches," but that he has not as yet taken any steps to escape
their golden snare. Indeed he now converses of his added
"opportunities of usefulness," I gather in connection with
missionary enterprise.


P.S.--I forgot to state that the spaniel Tommy died within
three days of his owner. The poor little beast was present in the
room at the time of Arbuthnot's passing away, and when found
seemed to be suffering from shock. From that moment Tommy refused
food and finally was discovered quite dead and lying by the body
on Marama's feather cloak, which Arbuthnot often used as a
dressing-gown. As Bastin raised some religious objections, I
arranged without his knowledge that the dog's ashes should rest
not far from those of the master and mistress whom it loved so


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