The End Of The Journey
: The Moon Pool
"Say Doc!" It was Larry's voice flung back at me. "I was thinking
about that frog. I think it was her pet. Damn me if I see any
difference between a frog and a snake, and one of the nicest women I
ever knew had two pet pythons that followed her around like kittens.
Not such a devilish lot of choice between a frog and a snake--except
on the side of the frog? What? Anyway, any pet that girl wants is
hers, I don't care i
it's a leaping twelve-toed lobster or a
whale-bodied scorpion. Get me?"
By which I knew that our remarks upon the frog woman were still
"He thinks of foolish nothings like the foolish sailor!" grunted
Marakinoff, acid contempt in his words. "What are their women
to--this?" He swept out a hand and as though at a signal the car
poised itself for an instant, then dipped, literally dipped down into
sheer space; skimmed forward in what was clearly curved flight, rose
as upon a sweeping upgrade and then began swiftly to slacken its
Far ahead a point of light showed; grew steadily; we were within
it--and softly all movement ceased. How acute had been the strain of
our journey I did not realize until I tried to stand--and sank back,
leg-muscles too shaky to bear my weight. The car rested in a slit in
the centre of a smooth walled chamber perhaps twenty feet square. The
wall facing us was pierced by a low doorway through which we could see
a flight of steps leading downward.
The light streamed through a small opening, the base of which was
twice a tall man's height from the floor. A curving flight of broad,
low steps led up to it. And now it came to my steadying brain that
there was something puzzling, peculiar, strangely unfamiliar about
this light. It was silvery, shaded faintly with a delicate blue and
flushed lightly with a nacreous rose; but a rose that differed from
that of the terraces of the Pool Chamber as the rose within the opal
differs from that within the pearl. In it were tiny, gleaming points
like the motes in a sunbeam, but sparkling white like the dust of
diamonds, and with a quality of vibrant vitality; they were as though
they were alive. The light cast no shadows!
A little breeze came through the oval and played about us. It was
laden with what seemed the mingled breath of spice flowers and pines.
It was curiously vivifying, and in it the diamonded atoms of light
shook and danced.
I stepped out of the car, the Russian following, and began to ascend
the curved steps toward the opening, at the top of which O'Keefe and
Olaf already stood. As they looked out I saw both their faces
change--Olaf's with awe, O'Keefe's with incredulous amaze. I hurried
to their side.
At first all that I could see was space--a space filled with the same
coruscating effulgence that pulsed about me. I glanced upward, obeying
that instinctive impulse of earth folk that bids them seek within the
sky for sources of light. There was no sky--at least no sky such as we
know--all was a sparkling nebulosity rising into infinite distances as
the azure above the day-world seems to fill all the heavens--through
it ran pulsing waves and flashing javelin rays that were like shining
shadows of the aurora; echoes, octaves lower, of those brilliant
arpeggios and chords that play about the poles. My eyes fell beneath
its splendour; I stared outward.
Miles away, gigantic luminous cliffs sprang sheer from the limits of a
lake whose waters were of milky opalescence. It was from these cliffs
that the spangled radiance came, shimmering out from all their
lustrous surfaces. To left and to right, as far as the eye could see,
they stretched--and they vanished in the auroral nebulosity on high!
"Look at that!" exclaimed Larry. I followed his pointing finger. On
the face of the shining wall, stretched between two colossal columns,
hung an incredible veil; prismatic, gleaming with all the colours of
the spectrum. It was like a web of rainbows woven by the fingers of
the daughters of the Jinn. In front of it and a little at each side
was a semi-circular pier, or, better, a plaza of what appeared to be
glistening, pale-yellow ivory. At each end of its half-circle
clustered a few low-walled, rose-stone structures, each of them
surmounted by a number of high, slender pinnacles.
We looked at each other, I think, a bit helplessly--and back again
through the opening. We were standing, as I have said, at its base.
The wall in which it was set was at least ten feet thick, and so, of
course, all that we could see of that which was without were the
distances that revealed themselves above the outer ledge of the oval.
"Let's take a look at what's under us," said Larry.
He crept out upon the ledge and peered down, the rest of us following.
A hundred yards beneath us stretched gardens that must have been like
those of many-columned Iram, which the ancient Addite King had built
for his pleasure ages before the deluge, and which Allah, so the Arab
legend tells, took and hid from man, within the Sahara, beyond all
hope of finding--jealous because they were more beautiful than his in
paradise. Within them flowers and groves of laced, fernlike trees,
pillared pavilions nestled.
The trunks of the trees were of emerald, of vermilion, and of
azure-blue, and the blossoms, whose fragrance was borne to us, shone
like jewels. The graceful pillars were tinted delicately. I noted that
the pavilions were double--in a way, two-storied--and that they were
oddly splotched with circles, with squares, and with oblongs
of--opacity; noted too that over many this opacity stretched like a
roof; yet it did not seem material; rather was it--impenetrable
Down through this city of gardens ran a broad shining green
thoroughfare, glistening like glass and spanned at regular intervals
with graceful, arched bridges. The road flashed to a wide square,
where rose, from a base of that same silvery stone that formed the lip
of the Moon Pool, a titanic structure of seven terraces; and along it
flitted objects that bore a curious resemblance to the shell of the
Nautilus. Within them were--human figures! And upon tree-bordered
promenades on each side walked others!
Far to the right we caught the glint of another emerald-paved road.
And between the two the gardens grew sweetly down to the hither side
of that opalescent water across which were the radiant cliffs and the
curtain of mystery.
Thus it was that we first saw the city of the Dweller; blessed and
accursed as no place on earth, or under or above earth has ever
been--or, that force willing which some call God, ever again shall be!
"Chert!" whispered Marakinoff. "Incredible!"
"Trolldom!" gasped Olaf Huldricksson. "It is Trolldom!"
"Listen, Olaf!" said Larry. "Cut out that Trolldom stuff! There's no
Trolldom, or fairies, outside Ireland. Get that! And this isn't
Ireland. And, buck up, Professor!" This to Marakinoff. "What you see
down there are people--just plain people. And wherever there's people
is where I live. Get me?
"There's no way in but in--and no way out but out," said O'Keefe.
"And there's the stairway. Eggs are eggs no matter how they're
cooked--and people are just people, fellow travellers, no matter what
dish they are in," he concluded. "Come on!"
With the three of us close behind him, he marched toward the entrance.