From: When The World Shook
We reached the sepulchre without stopping to look at the parked machines
or even the marvelous statue that stood above it, for what did we care
about machines or statues now? As we approached we were astonished to
hear low and cavernous growlings.
"There is some wild beast in there," said Bickley, halting. "No, by
George! it's Tommy. What can the dog be after?"
We peeped in, and there sure enough was Tommy lying on the top of
the Glittering Lady's coffin and growling his very best with the hair
standing up upon his back. When he saw who it was, however, he jumped
off and frisked round, licking my hand.
"That's very strange," I exclaimed.
"Not stranger than everything else," said Bickley.
"What are you going to do?" I asked.
"Open these coffins," he answered, "beginning with that of the old god,
since I would rather experiment on him. I expect he will crumble into
dust. But if by chance he doesn't I'll jam a little strychnine, mixed
with some other drugs, of which you don't know the names, into one of
his veins and see if anything happens. If it doesn't, it won't hurt him,
and if it does--well, who knows? Now give me a hand."
We went to the left-hand coffin and by inserting the hook on the back of
my knife, of which the real use is to pick stones out of horses' hoofs,
into one of the little air-holes I have described, managed to raise the
heavy crystal lid sufficiently to enable us to force a piece of wood
between it and the top. The rest was easy, for the hinges being of
crystal had not corroded. In two minutes it was open.
From the chest came an overpowering spicy odour, and with it a veritable
breath of warm air before which we recoiled a little. Bickley took a
pocket thermometer which he had at hand and glanced at it. It marked a
temperature of 82 degrees in the sepulchre. Having noted this, he thrust
it into the coffin between the crystal wall and its occupant. Then we
went out and waited a little while to give the odours time to dissipate,
for they made the head reel.
After five minutes or so we returned and examined the thermometer. It
had risen to 98 degrees, the natural temperature of the human body.
"What do you make of that if the man is dead?" he whispered.
I shook my head, and as we had agreed, set to helping him to lift the
body from the coffin. It was a good weight, quite eleven stone I should
say; moreover, it was not stiff, for the hip joints bent. We got it out
and laid it on a blanket we had spread on the floor of the sepulchre.
Whilst I was thus engaged I saw something that nearly caused me to loose
my hold from astonishment. Beneath the head, the centre of the back and
the feet were crystal boxes about eight inches square, or rather crystal
blocks, for in them I could see no opening, and these boxes emitted a
faint phosphorescent light. I touched one of them and found that it was
"Great heavens!" I exclaimed, "here's magic."
"There's no such thing," answered Bickley in his usual formula. Then an
explanation seemed to strike him and he added, "Not magic but radium
or something of the sort. That's how the temperature was kept up. In
sufficient quantity it is practically indestructible, you see. My word!
this old gentleman knew a thing or two."
Again we waited a little while to see if the body begun to crumble on
exposure to the air, I taking the opportunity to make a rough sketch of
it in my pocket-book in anticipation of that event. But it did not; it
remained quite sound.
"Here goes," said Bickley. "If he should be alive, he will catch cold in
his lungs after lying for ages in that baby incubator, as I suppose he
has done. So it is now or never."
Then bidding me hold the man's right arm, he took the sterilized syringe
which he had prepared, and thrusting the needle into a vein he selected
just above the wrist, injected the contents.
"It would have been better over the heart," he whispered, "but I thought
I would try the arm first. I don't like risking chills by uncovering
I made no answer and again we waited and watched.
"Great heavens, he's stirring!" I gasped presently.
Stirring he was, for his fingers began to move.
Bickley bent down and placed his ear to the heart--I forgot to say that
he had tested this before with a stethoscope, but had been unable to
detect any movement.
"I believe it is beginning to beat," he said in an awed voice.
Then he applied the stethoscope, and added, "It is, it is!"
Next he took a filament of cotton wool and laid it on the man's lips.
Presently it moved; he was breathing, though very faintly. Bickley took
more cotton wool and having poured something from his medicine-chest on
to it, placed it over the mouth beneath the man's nostrils--I believe it
was sal volatile.
Nothing further happened for a little while, and to relieve the strain
on my mind I stared absently into the empty coffin. Here I saw what had
escaped our notice, two small plates of white metal and cut upon them
what I took to be star maps. Beyond these and the glowing boxes which I
have mentioned, there was nothing else in the coffin. I had no time to
examine them, for at that moment the old man opened his mouth and began
to breathe, evidently with some discomfort and effort, as his empty
lungs filled themselves with air. Then his eyelids lifted, revealing a
wonderful pair of dark glowing eyes beneath. Next he tried to sit up but
would have fallen, had not Bickley supported him with his arm.
I do not think he saw Bickley, indeed he shut his eyes again as though
the light hurt them, and went into a kind of faint. Then it was that
Tommy, who all this while had been watching the proceedings with grave
interest, came forward, wagging his tail, and licked the man's face.
At the touch of the dog's red tongue, he opened his eyes for the second
time. Now he saw--not us but Tommy, for after contemplating him for a
few seconds, something like a smile appeared upon his fierce but noble
face. More, he lifted his hand and laid it on the dog's head, as
though to pat it kindly. Half a minute or so later his awakening senses
appreciated our presence. The incipient smile vanished and was replaced
by a somewhat terrible frown.
Meanwhile Bickley had poured out some of the hot coffee laced with
brandy into the cup that was screwed on the top of the thermos flask.
Advancing to the man whom I supported, he put it to his lips. He tasted
and made a wry face, but presently he began to sip, and ultimately
swallowed it all. The effect of the stimulant was wonderful, for in
a few minutes he came to life completely and was even able to sit up
For quite a long while he gazed at us gravely, talking us in and
everything connected with us. For instance, Bickley's medicine-case
which lay open showing the little vulcanite tubes, a few instruments and
other outfit, engaged his particular attention, and I saw at once that
he understood what it was. Thus his arm still smarted where the needle
had been driven in and on the blanket lay the syringe. He looked at
his arm, then looked at the syringe, and nodded. The paraffin hurricane
lamps also seemed to interest and win his approval. We two men, as
I thought, attracted him least of all; he just summed us up and our
garments, more especially the garments, with a few shrewd glances, and
then seemed to turn his thoughts to Tommy, who had seated himself quite
contentedly at his side, evidently accepting him as a new addition to
I confess that this behaviour on Tommy's part reassured me not a little.
I am a great believer in the instincts of animals, especially of dogs,
and I felt certain that if this man had not been in all essentials human
like ourselves, Tommy would not have tolerated him. In the same way the
sleeper's clear liking for Tommy, at whom he looked much oftener and
with greater kindness than he did at us, suggested that there was
goodness in him somewhere, since although a dog in its wonderful
tolerance may love a bad person in whom it smells out hidden virtue, no
really bad person ever loved a dog, or, I may add, a child or a flower.
As a matter of fact, the "old god," as we had christened him while he
was in his coffin, during all our association with him, cared infinitely
more for Tommy than he did for any of us, a circumstance that ultimately
was not without its influence upon our fortunes. But for this there was
a reason as we learned afterwards, also he was not really so amiable as
When we had looked at each other for a long while the sleeper began
to arrange his beard, of which the length seemed to surprise him,
especially as Tommy was seated on one end of it. Finding this out and
apparently not wishing to disturb Tommy, he gave up the occupation, and
after one or two attempts, for his tongue and lips still seemed to be
stiff, addressed us in some sonorous and musical language, unlike any
that we had ever heard. We shook our heads. Then by an afterthought I
said "Good day" to him in the language of the Orofenans. He puzzled
over the word as though it were more or less familiar to him, and when
I repeated it, gave it back to me with a difference indeed, but in a
way which convinced us that he quite understood what I meant. The
conversation went no further at the moment because just then some memory
seemed to strike him.
He was sitting with his back against the coffin of the Glittering Lady,
whom therefore he had not seen. Now he began to turn round, and being
too weak to do so, motioned me to help him. I obeyed, while Bickley,
guessing his purpose, held up one of the hurricane lamps that he might
see better. With a kind of fierce eagerness he surveyed her who lay
within the coffin, and after he had done so, uttered a sigh as of
Next he pointed to the metal cup out of which he had drunk. Bickley
filled it again from the thermos flask, which I observed excited his
keen interest, for, having touched the flask with his hand and found
that it was cool, he appeared to marvel that the fluid coming from it
should be hot and steaming. Presently he smiled as though he had got
the clue to the mystery, and swallowed his second drink of coffee and
spirit. This done, he motioned to us to lift the lid of the lady's
coffin, pointing out a certain catch in the bolts which at first we
could not master, for it will be remembered that on this coffin these
In the end, by pursuing the same methods that we had used in the
instance of his own, we raised the coffin lid and once more were driven
to retreat from the sepulchre for a while by the overpowering odour like
to that of a whole greenhouse full of tuberoses, that flowed out of it,
inducing a kind of stupefaction from which even Tommy fled.
When we returned it was to find the man kneeling by the side of the
coffin, for as yet he could not stand, with his glowing eyes fixed upon
the face of her who slept therein and waving his long arms above her.
"Hypnotic business! Wonder if it will work," whispered Bickley. Then
he lifted the syringe and looked inquiringly at the man, who shook his
head, and went on with his mesmeric passes.
I crept round him and took my stand by the sleeper's head, that I might
watch her face, which was well worth watching, while Bickley, with
his medicine at hand, remained near her feet, I think engaged in
disinfecting the syringe in some spirit or acid. I believe he was
about to make an attempt to use it when suddenly, as though beneath the
influence of the hypnotic passes, a change appeared on the Glittering
Lady's face. Hitherto, beautiful as it was, it had been a dead face
though one of a person who had suddenly been cut off while in full
health and vigour a few hours, or at the most a day or so before. Now
it began to live again; it was as though the spirit were returning from
afar, and not without toil and tribulation.
Expression after expression flitted across the features; indeed these
seemed to change so much from moment to moment that they might have
belonged to several different individuals, though each was beautiful.
The fact of these remarkable changes with the suggestion of multiform
personalities which they conveyed impressed both Bickley and myself very
much indeed. Then the breast heaved tumultuously; it even appeared to
struggle. Next the eyes opened. They were full of wonder, even of fear,
but oh! what marvelous eyes. I do not know how to describe them, I
cannot even state their exact colour, except that it was dark, something
like the blue of sapphires of the deepest tint, and yet not black;
large, too, and soft as a deer's. They shut again as though the light
hurt them, then once more opened and wandered about, apparently without
At length they found my face, for I was still bending over her, and,
resting there, appeared to take it in by degrees. More, it seemed to
touch and stir some human spring in the still-sleeping heart. At least
the fear passed from her features and was replaced by a faint smile,
such as a patient sometimes gives to one known and well loved, as the
effects of chloroform pass away. For a while she looked at me with an
earnest, searching gaze, then suddenly, for the first time moving her
arms, lifted them and threw them round my neck.
The old man stared, bending his imperial brows into a little frown,
but did nothing. Bickley stared also through his glasses and sniffed
as though in disapproval, while I remained quite still, fighting with
a wild impulse to kiss her on the lips as one would an awakening and
beloved child. I doubt if I could have done so, however, for really
I was immovable; my heart seemed to stop and all my muscles to be
I do not know for how long this endured, but I do know how it ended.
Presently in the intense silence I heard Bastin's heavy voice and
looking round, saw his big head projecting into the sepulchre.
"Well, I never!" he said, "you seem to have woke them up with a
vengeance. If you begin like that with the lady, there will be
complications before you have done, Arbuthnot."
Talk of being brought back to earth with a rush! I could have killed
Bastin, and Bickley, turning on him like a tiger, told him to be off,
find wood and light a large fire in front of the statue. I think he was
about to argue when the Ancient gave him a glance of his fierce eyes,
which alarmed him, and he departed, bewildered, to return presently with
But the sound of his voice had broken the spell. The Lady let her arms
fall with a start, and shut her eyes again, seeming to faint. Bickley
sprang forward with his sal volatile and applied it to her nostrils, the
Ancient not interfering, for he seemed to recognise that he had to deal
with a man of skill and one who meant well by them.
In the end we brought her round again and, to omit details, Bickley gave
her, not coffee and brandy, but a mixture he compounded of hot water,
preserved milk and meat essence. The effect of it on her was wonderful,
since a few minutes after swallowing it she sat up in the coffin. Then
we lifted her from that narrow bed in which she had slept for--ah! how
long? and perceived that beneath her also were crystal boxes of
the radiant, heat-giving substance. We sat her on the floor of the
sepulchre, wrapping her also in a blanket.
Now it was that Tommy, after frisking round her as though in welcome of
an old friend, calmly established himself beside her and laid his
black head upon her knee. She noted it and smiled for the first time,
a marvelously sweet and gentle smile. More, she placed her slender hand
upon the dog and stroked him feebly.
Bickley tried to make her drink some more of his mixture, but she
refused, motioning him to give it to Tommy. This, however, he would not
do because there was but one cup. Presently both of the sleepers began
to shiver, which caused Bickley anxiety. Abusing Bastin beneath his
breath for being so long with the fire, he drew the blankets closer
Then an idea came to him and he examined the glowing boxes in the
coffin. They were loose, being merely set in prepared cavities in the
crystal. Wrapping our handkerchiefs about his hand, he took them out
and placed them around the wakened patients, a proceeding of which the
Ancient nodded approval. Just then, too, Bastin returned with his first
load of firewood, and soon we had a merry blaze going just outside the
sepulchre. I saw that they observed the lighting of this fire by means
of a match with much interest.
Now they grew warm again, as indeed we did also--too warm. Then in my
turn I had an idea. I knew that by now the sun would be beating hotly
against the rock of the mount, and suggested to Bickley, that, if
possible, the best thing we could do would be to get them into its
life-giving rays. He agreed, if we could make them understand and they
were able to walk. So I tried. First I directed the Ancient's attention
to the mouth of the cave which at this distance showed as a white circle
of light. He looked at it and then at me with grave inquiry. I made
motions to suggest that he should proceed there, repeating the word
"Sun" in the Orofenan tongue. He understood at once, though whether
he read my mind rather than what I said I am not sure. Apparently the
Glittering Lady understood also and seemed to be most anxious to go.
Only she looked rather pitifully at her feet and shook her head. This
I do not know if I have mentioned anywhere that I am a tall man and very
muscular. She was tall, also, but as I judged not so very heavy after
her long fast. At any rate I felt quite certain that I could carry her
for that distance. Stooping down, I lifted her up, signing to her to
put her arms round my neck, which she did. Then calling to Bickley and
Bastin to bring along the Ancient between them, with some difficulty I
struggled out of the sepulchre, and started down the cave. She was more
heavy than I thought, and yet I could have wished the journey longer. To
begin with she seemed quite trustful and happy in my arms, where she lay
with her head against my shoulder, smiling a little as a child might do,
especially when I had to stop and throw her long hair round my neck like
a muffler, to prevent it from trailing in the dust.
A bundle of lavender, or a truss of new-mown hay, could not have been
more sweet to carry and there was something electric about the touch of
her, which went through and through me. Very soon it was over, and we
were out of the cave into the full glory of the tropical sun. At first,
that her eyes might become accustomed to its light and her awakened body
to its heat, I set her down where shadow fell from the overhanging rock,
in a canvas deck chair that had been brought by Marama with the other
things, throwing the rug about her to protect her from such wind as
there was. She nestled gratefully into the soft seat and shut her eyes,
for the motion had tired her. I noted, however, that she drew in the
sweet air with long breaths.
Then I turned to observe the arrival of the Ancient, who was being borne
between Bickley and Bastin in what children know as a dandy-chair, which
is formed by two people crossing their hands in a peculiar fashion. It
says much for the tremendous dignity of his presence that even thus,
with one arm round the neck of Bickley and the other round that of
Bastin, and his long white beard falling almost to the ground, he still
looked most imposing.
Unfortunately, however, just as they were emerging from the cave,
Bastin, always the most awkward of creatures, managed to leave hold with
one hand, so that his passenger nearly came to the ground. Never shall I
forget the look that he gave him. Indeed, I think that from this moment
he hated Bastin. Bickley he respected as a man of intelligence and
learning, although in comparison with his own, the latter was infantile
and crude; me he tolerated and even liked; but Bastin he detested.
The only one of our party for whom he felt anything approaching real
affection was the spaniel Tommy.
We set him down, fortunately uninjured, on some rugs, and also in the
shadow. Then, after a little while, we moved both of them into the sun.
It was quite curious to see them expand there. As Bickley said,
what happened to them might well be compared to the development of a
butterfly which has just broken from the living grave of its chrysalis
and crept into the full, hot radiance of the light. Its crinkled wings
unfold, their brilliant tints develop; in an hour or two it is perfect,
glorious, prepared for life and flight, a new creature.
So it was with this pair, from moment to moment they gathered strength
and vigour. Near-by to them, as it happened, stood a large basket of
the luscious native fruits brought that morning by the Orofenans, and at
these the Lady looked with longing. With Bickley's permission, I offered
them to her and to the Ancient, first peeling them with my fingers. They
ate of them greedily, a full meal, and would have gone on had not the
stern Bickley, fearing untoward consequences, removed the basket. Again
the results were wonderful, for half an hour afterwards they seemed to
be quite strong. With my assistance the Glittering Lady, as I still call
her, for at that time I did not know her name, rose from the chair, and,
leaning on me, tottered a few steps forward. Then she stood looking at
the sky and all the lovely panorama of nature beneath, and stretching
out her arms as though in worship. Oh! how beautiful she seemed with the
sunlight shining on her heavenly face!
Now for the first time I heard her voice. It was soft and deep, yet in
it was a curious bell-like tone that seemed to vibrate like the sound of
chimes heard from far away. Never have I listened to such another voice.
She pointed to the sun whereof the light turned her radiant hair and
garments to a kind of golden glory, and called it by some name that I
could not understand. I shook my head, whereon she gave it a different
name taken, I suppose, from another language. Again I shook my head and
she tried a third time. To my delight this word was practically the same
that the Orofenans used for "sun."
"Yes," I said, speaking very slowly, "so it is called by the people of
She understood, for she answered in much the same language:
"What, then, do you call it?"
"Sun in the English tongue," I replied.
"Sun. English," she repeated after me, then added, "How are you named,
"Humphrey," I answered.
"Hum-fe-ry!" she said as though she were learning the word, "and those?"
"Bastin and Bickley," I replied.
Over these patronymics she shook her head; as yet they were too much for
"How are you named, Sleeper?" I asked.
"Yva," she answered.
"A beautiful name for one who is beautiful," I declared with enthusiasm,
of course always in the rich Orofenan dialect which by now I could talk
She repeated the words once or twice, then of a sudden caught their
meaning, for she smiled and even coloured, saying hastily with a wave of
her hand towards the Ancient who stood at a distance between Bastin and
Bickley, "My father, Oro; great man; great king; great god!"
At this information I started, for it was startling to learn that
here was the original Oro, who was still worshipped by the Orofenans,
although of his actual existence they had known nothing for uncounted
time. Also I was glad to learn that he was her father and not her old
husband, for to me that would have been horrible, a desecration too deep
"How long did you sleep, Yva?" I asked, pointing towards the sepulchre
in the cave.
After a little thought she understood and shook her head hopelessly,
then by an afterthought, she said,
"Stars tell Oro to-night."
So Oro was an astronomer as well as a king and a god. I had guessed as
much from those plates in the coffin which seemed to have stars engraved
At this point our conversation came to an end, for the Ancient himself
approached, leaning on the arm of Bickley who was engaged in an animated
argument with Bastin.
"For Heaven's sake!" said Bickley, "keep your theology to yourself at
present. If you upset the old fellow and put him in a temper he may
"If a man tells me that he is a god it is my duty to tell him that he is
a liar," replied Bastin obstinately.
"Which you did, Bastin, only fortunately he did not understand you. But
for your own sake I advise you not to take liberties. He is not one, I
think, with whom it is wise to trifle. I think he seems thirsty. Go and
get some water from the rain pool, not from the lake."
Bastin departed and presently returned with an aluminum jug full of pure
water and a glass. Bickley poured some of it into a glass and handed it
to Yva who bent her head in thanks. Then she did a curious thing. Having
first lifted the glass with both hands to the sky and held it so for a
few seconds, she turned and with an obeisance poured a little of it on
the ground before her father's feet.
A libation, thought I to myself, and evidently Bastin agreed with me,
for I heard him mutter,
"I believe she is making a heathen offering."
Doubtless we were right, for Oro accepted the homage by a little motion
of the head. After this, at a sign from him she drank the water. Then
the glass was refilled and handed to Oro who also held it towards the
sky. He, however, made no libation but drank at once, two tumblers of it
in rapid succession.
By now the direct sunlight was passing from the mouth of the cave, and
though it was hot enough, both of them shivered a little. They spoke
together in some language of which we could not understand a word, as
though they were debating what their course of action should be. The
dispute was long and earnest. Had we known what was passing, which I
learned afterwards, it would have made us sufficiently anxious, for the
point at issue was nothing less than whether we should or should not be
forthwith destroyed--an end, it appears, that Oro was quite capable of
bringing about if he so pleased. Yva, however, had very clear views of
her own on the matter and, as I gather, even dared to threaten that she
would protect us by the use of certain powers at her command, though
what these were I do not know.
While the event hung doubtful Tommy, who was growing bored with these
long proceedings, picked up a bough still covered with flowers which,
after their pretty fashion, the Orofenans had placed on the top of one
of the baskets of food. This small bough he brought and laid at the feet
of Oro, no doubt in the hope that he would throw it for him to fetch, a
game in which the dog delighted. For some reason Oro saw an omen in
this simple canine performance, or he may have thought that the dog
was making an offering to him, for he put his thin hand to his brow and
thought a while, then motioned to Bastin to pick up the bough and give
it to him.
Next he spoke to his daughter as though assenting to something, for I
saw her sigh in relief. No wonder, for he was conveying his decision to
spare our lives and admit us to their fellowship.
After this again they talked, but in quite a different tone and manner.
Then the Glittering Lady said to me in her slow and archaic Orofenan:
"We go to rest. You must not follow. We come back perhaps tonight,
perhaps next night. We are quite safe. You are quite safe under the
beard of Oro. Spirit of Oro watch you. You understand?"
I said I understood, whereon she answered:
"Good-bye, O Humfe-ry."
"Good-bye, O Yva," I replied, bowing.
Thereon they turned and refusing all assistance from us, vanished into
the darkness of the cave leaning upon each other and walking slowly.
Next: Two Hundred And Fifty Thousand Years!
Previous: The Dwellers In The Tomb