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I said to myself that mother's wandering boy should munch there that night. And so it came to pass. And there is where I contracted my case of Marne Dugan. Ma Dugan did the cooking, and Marne waited on the table. There wasn't but one girl in the United States. When you come to specifications it isn't easy.
She was about the size of an angel, and she had eyes, and ways about her. When you come to the kind of a girl she was, you'll find a belt of 'em reaching from the Brooklyn Bridge west as far as the courthouse in Council Bluffs, la.
They earn their own living in stores, restaurants, factories, and offices. They're chummy and honest and free and tender and sassy, and they look life straight in the eye. They've met man face to face, and discovered that he's a poor creature. They've dropped to it that the reports in the Seaside Library about his being a fairy prince lack confirmation.
She was full of life and fun, and breezy; she passed the repartee with the boarders quick as a wink; you'd have smothered laughing. I am disinclined to make excavations into the insides of a personal affection. I am glued to the theory that the diversions and discrepancies of the indisposition known as love should be as private a sentiment as a toothbrush.
So, you'll excuse the lack of an itemised bill of my feelings toward Marne. Marne would sail in with a smile, in a black dress and white apron, and say: Want to see how much trouble you can be, of course.
She called me Jeff, but there was no significations attached. Designations was all she meant. The front names of any of us she used as they came to hand. I'd eat about two meals before I left, and string 'em out like a society spread where they changed plates and wives, and josh one another festively between bites. Marne stood for it, pleasant, for it wasn't up to her to take any canvas off the tent by declining dollars just because they were whipped in after meal times.
That Collier man was saturated with designs and contrivings. He was in well-boring or insurance or claim-jumping, or something-l've forgotten which. He was a man well lubricated with gentility, and his words were such as recommended you to his point of view. So, Collier and me infested the grub tent with care and activity. Marne was level full of impartiality. Divested of his stratagems, he seemed to be a pleasant chap, full of an amiable sort of hostility.
Notice is hereby served. We strolled out a distance and sat on a pile of lumber at the edge of town. Such opportunities was seldom, so I spoke my piece, explaining how the Brazilian diamonds and the fire kindler were laying up sufficient treasure to guarantee the happiness of two, and that both of 'em together couldn't equal the light from somebody's eyes, and that the name of Dugan should be changed to Peters, or reasons why not would be in order. Directly she gave a kind of shudder, and I began to learn something.
I like you as well as any of them, but there isn't a man in the world I'd ever marry, and there never will be. Do you know what a man is in my eye? He's a sarcophagus for the interment of Beafsteakporkchopsliver'nbaconham- andeggs. He's that and nothing more. For two years I've watched men eat, eat, eat, until they represent nothing on earth to me but ruminant bipeds. They're absolutely nothing but something that goes in front of a knife and fork and plate at the table.
They're fixed that way in my mind and memory. I've tried to overcome it, but I can't. I've heard girls rave about their sweethearts, but I never could understand it.
A man and a sausage grinder and a pantry awake in me exactly the same sentiments. I went to a matinee once to see an actor the girls were crazy about. I got interested enough to wonder whether he liked his steak rare, medium, or well done, and his eggs over or straight up. No, Jeff; I'll marry no man and see him sit at the breakfast table and eat, and come back to dinner and eat, and happen in again at supper to eat, eat, eat. You've had too much of it.
You'll marry some time, of course. Men don't eat always. No, I'll tell you what I'm going to do. She waits in the railroad eating house there.
I worked two years in a restaurant in that town. Susie has it worse than I do, because the men who eat at railroad stations gobble. They try to flirt and gobble at the same time. Susie and I have it all planned out. We're saving our money, and when we get enough we're going to buy a little cottage and five acres we know of, and live together, and grow violets for the Eastern market.
A man better not bring his appetite within a mile of that ranch. They nibble a little bit sometimes; that's all. Take England-beef made her; wieners elevated Germany; Uncle Sam owes his greatness to fried chicken and pie, but the young ladies of the Shetalkyou schools, they'll never believe it. Shakespeare, they allow, and Rubinstein, and the Rough Riders is what did the trick. I couldn't bear to give up Marne; and yet it pained me to think of abandoning the practice of eating.
I had acquired the habit too early. For twenty-seven years I had been blindly rushing upon my fate, yielding to the insidious lures of that deadly monster, food. It was too late. I was a ruminant biped for keeps. It was lobster salad to a doughnut that my life was going to be blighted by it.
I had sufficient faith in true love to believe that since it has often outlived the absence of a square meal it might, in time, overcome the presence of one. I went on ministering to my fatal vice, although I felt that each time I shoved a potato into my mouth in Marne's presence I might be burying my fondest hopes.
I caught on and did the same, and maybe we thought we'd made a hit! The next day we tried it again, and out comes old man Dugan fetching in his hands the fairy viands.
I noticed about that time that I was seized by a most uncommon and devastating appetite. I ate until Marne must have hated to see me darken the door. Afterward I found out that I had been made the victim of the first dark and irreligious trick played on me by Ed Collier. Him and me had been taking drinks together uptown regular, trying to drown our thirst for food.
That man had bribed about ten bartenders to always put a big slug of Appletree's Anaconda Appetite Bitters in every one of my drinks. But the last trick he played me was hardest to forget. A man told me he left town that morning. My only rival now was the bill of fare. A few days before he left Collier had presented me with a two-gallon jug of fine whisky which he said a cousin had sent him from Kentucky. I now have reason to believe that it contained Appletree's Anaconda Appetite Bitters almost exclusively.
I continued to devour tons of provisions. In Marne's eyes I remained a mere biped, more ruminant than ever. I judged it was a sort of fake museum and curiosity business. I called to see Marne one night, and Ma Dugan said that she and Thomas, her younger brother, had gone to the show. That same thing happened for three nights that week. Saturday night I caught her on the way coming back, and got to sit on the steps a while and talk to her. I noticed she looked different. Her eyes were softer, and shiny like.
Instead of a Marne Dugan to fly from the voracity of man and raise violets, she seemed to be a Marne more in line as God intended her, approachable, and suited to bask in the light of the Brazilians and the Kindler.
Some of them are wax. I didn't know what to think about her. My hopes raised some that perhaps my attentions had palliated man's awful crime of visibly introducing nourishment into his system. She talked some about the stars, referring to them with respect and politeness, and I drivelled a quantity about united hearts, homes made bright by true affection, and the Kindler. Marne listened without scorn, and I says to myself, 'Jeff, old man, you're removing the hoodoo that has clung to the consumer of victuals; you're setting your heel upon the serpent that lurks in the gravy bowl.
Marne is at the Unparalleled Exhibition with Thomas. I'll go to see it myself to-morrow night and investigate its baleful charm. Shall man that was made to inherit the earth be bereft of his sweetheart first by a knife and fork and then by a ten-cent circus?
She is not at the circus with Thomas this time, for Thomas waylays me in the grass outside of the grub tent with a scheme of his own before I had time to eat supper. I don't like him. I overheard 'em talking. Thought maybe you'd like to know. Say, Jeff, does it put you wise two dollars' worth? There's a target rifle up town that--' "I frisked my pockets and commenced to dribble a stream of halves and quarters into Thomas's hat. The information was of the pile-driver system of news, and it telescoped my intellects for a while.
While I was leaking small change and smiling foolish on the outside, and suffering disturbances internally, I was saying, idiotically and pleasantly: Now, could you make out the monstrosity's entitlements a little clearer, if you please, Thomas? I guess that's why Sis got soft on him. He don't eat nothing. He's going to fast forty-nine days.
This is the sixth. I give you credit for the trick. But I don't give you the girl until she's Mrs. I came up to the rear of the tent, and, as I did so, a man wiggled out like a snake from under the bottom of the canvas, scrambled to his feet, and ran into me like a locoed bronco. I gathered him by the neck and investigated him by the light of the stars. It is Professor Eduardo Collieri, in human habiliments, with a desperate look in one eye and impatience in the other.
How do you like being the willopus-wallopus or the bim-bam from Borneo, or whatever name you are denounced by in the side-show business? I'm in the extremest kind of a large hurry. It's an eminent graft you fell onto, my son. But don't speak of assaults and battery, because you're not fit. The best you've got is a lot of nerve and a mighty empty stomach.
The man was as weak as a vegetarian cat. Curse the man, I say, that invented the art of going foodless. May his soul in eternity be chained up within two feet of a bottomless pit of red- hot hash. I'm abandoning the conflict, Jeff; I'm deserting to the enemy.
You'll find Miss Dugan inside contemplating the only living mummy and the informed hog. She's a fine girl, Jeff. I'd have beat you out if I could have kept up the grubless habit a little while longer. You'll have to admit that the fasting dodge was aces-up for a while. I figured it out that way. But say, Jeff, it's said that love makes the world go around.
Let me tell you, the announcement lacks verification. It's the wind from the dinner horn that does it. I love that Marne Dugan. I've gone six days without food in order to coincide with her sentiments. Only one bite did I have. That was when I knocked the tattooed man down with a war club and got a sandwich he was gobbling. The manager fined me all my salary; but salary wasn't what I was after.
I'd give my life for her, but I'd endanger my immortal soul for a beef stew. Hunger is a horrible thing, Jeff. Love and business and family and religion and art and patriotism are nothing but shadows of words when a man's starving! I gathered the diagnosis that his affections and his digestions had been implicated in a scramble and the commissary had won out. I never disliked Ed Collier. I searched my internal admonitions of suitable etiquette to see if I could find a remark of a consoling nature, but there was none convenient.
I've been hard hit, but I'll hit the ration supply harder. I'm going to clean out every restaurant in town. I'm going to wade waist deep in sirloins and swim in ham and eggs. It's an awful thing, Jeff Peters, for a man to come to this pass--to give up his girl for something to eat—it's worse than that man Esau, that swapped his copyright for a partridge- but then, hunger's a fierce thing.
You'll excuse me, now, Jeff, for I smell a pervasion of ham frying in the distance, and my legs are crying out to stampede in that direction. For myself, I am projected to be an unseldom eater, and I have condolence for your predicaments. There was Ed Collier, a fine man full of contrivances and flirtations, abandoning the girl of his heart and ripping out into the contiguous territory in the pursuit of sordid grub.
An empty stomach is a sure antidote to an overfull heart. I went inside the Unparalleled Exhibition, and there she was. She looked surprised to see me, but unguilty. Wouldn't you shake these by-products of the animal kingdom long enough to take a walk with a common human who never was on a programme in his life? He just crawled out under the tent. By this time he has amalgamated himself with half the delicatessen truck in town.
I met him outside the tent, and he exposed his intentions of devastating the food crop of the world. I don't care to hear Ed Collier ridiculed. A man may do ridiculous things, but they don't look ridiculous to the girl he does 'em for. That was one man in a hundred. He stopped eating just to please me. Could you do what he did? I can't help it. The brand of the consumer is upon my brow. Eve settled that business for me when she made the dicker with the snake. I fell from the fire into the frying-pan.
I guess I'm the Champion Feaster of the Universe. I gave him the same answer I did you-no marrying for me. I liked to be with Ed and talk with him. There was something mighty pleasant to me in the thought that here was a man who never used a knife and fork, and all for my sake. All of us get jostled out of the line of profitable talk now and then.
Suppose you do a forty-nine day fast, just to give you ground to stand on, and then maybe I'll answer it. And then business played out in Guthrie. The Brazilians I had sold commenced to show signs of wear, and the Kindler refused to light up right frequent on wet mornings. There is always a time, in my business, when the star of success says, 'Move on to the next town. I wasn't abandoning the game; I intended running over to Oklahoma City and work it for a week or two.
Then I was coming back to institute fresh proceedings against Marne. It seems that sister Lottie Bell, who is a typewriter in Terre Haute, is going to be married next Thursday, and Marne is off for a week's visit to be an accomplice at the ceremony. Marne is waiting for a freight wagon that is going to take her to Oklahoma, but I condemns the freight wagon with promptness and scorn, and offers to deliver the goods myself.
Ma Dugan sees no reason why not, as Mr. Freighter wants pay for the job; so, thirty minutes later Marne and I pull out in my light spring wagon with white canvas cover, and head due south.
The breeze was lively, and smelled excellent of flowers and grass, and the little cottontail rabbits entertained themselves with skylarking across the road. My two Kentucky bays went for the horizon until it come sailing in so fast you wanted to dodge it like a clothesline. Marne was full of talk and rattled on like a kid about her old home and her school pranks and the things she liked and the hateful ways of those Johnson girls just across the street, 'way up in Indiana. Not a word was said about Ed Collier or victuals or such solemn subjects.
About noon Mame looks and finds that the lunch she had put up in a basket had been left behind. I could have managed quite a collation, but Mame didn't seem to be grieving over nothing to eat, so I made no lamentations. It was a sore subject with me, and I ruled provender in all its branches out of my conversation. The road was dim and well grown with grass; and there was Mame by my side confiscating my intellects and attention. The excuses are good or they are not, as they may appear to you.
But I lost it, and at dusk that afternoon, when we should have been in Oklahoma City, we were seesawing along the edge of nowhere in some undiscovered river bottom, and the rain was falling in large, wet bunches.
Down there in the swamps we saw a little log house on a small knoll of high ground. The bottom grass and the chaparral and the lonesome timber crowded all around it. It seemed to be a melancholy little house, and you felt sorry for it. I explained to Mame, and she leaves it to me to decide. She doesn't become galvanic and prosecuting, as most women would, but she says it's all right; she knows I didn't mean to do it.
It had two empty rooms. There was a little shed in the yard where beasts had once been kept. In a loft of it was a lot of old hay. I put my horses in there and gave them some of it, for which they looked at me sorrowful, expecting apologies. The rest of the hay I carried into the house by armfuls, with a view to accommodations. I also brought in the patent kindler and the Brazilians, neither of which are guaranteed against the action of water. If I was any judge, that girl enjoyed it.
It was a change for her. It gave her a different point of view. She laughed and talked, and the kindler made a dim light compared to her eyes.
I had a pocketful of cigars, and as far as I was concerned there had never been any fall of man. We were at the same old stand in the Garden of Eden. Out there somewhere in the rain and the dark was the river of Zion, and the angel with the flaming sword had not yet put up the keep-off-the-grass sign. I opened up a gross or two of the Brazilians and made Mame put them on-rings, brooches, necklaces, eardrops, bracelets, girdles, and lockets.
She flashed and sparkled like a million-dollar princess until she had pink spots in her cheeks and almost cried for a looking-glass. I sat in the other room burning tobacco and listening to the pouring rain and meditating on the many vicissitudes that came to a man during the seventy years or so immediately preceding his funeral.
I could eat a--' "I looked up and caught her eye. Her smile went back in and she gave me a cold look of suspicion. Then I laughed, and laid down on the floor to laugh easier. It seemed funny to me. By nature and geniality I am a hearty laugher, and I went the limit. When I came to, Marne was sitting with her back to me, all contaminated with dignity.
It's the funny way you've done up your hair. If you could only see it! I know what you were laughing about. Why, Jeff, look outside,' she winds up, peeping through a chink between the logs. I opened the little wooden window and looked out. The entire river bottom was flooded, and the knob of land on which the house stood was an island in the middle of a rushing stream of yellow water a hundred yards wide.
And it was still raining hard. All we could do was to stay there till the doves brought in the olive branch. I was aware that Marne was getting a too prolonged one-sided view of things again, but I had no way to change it. Personally, I was wrapped up in the desire to eat. I had hallucinations of hash and visions of ham, and I kept saying to myself all the time, 'What'll you have to eat, Jeff?
I guess it's that way with all hungry men. They can't get their cogitations trained on anything but something to eat. It shows that the little table with the broken-legged caster and the imitation Worcester sauce and the napkin covering up the coffee stains is the paramount issue, after all, instead of the question of immortality or peace between nations.
Marne was on the other seat, pensive, her head leaning on her hand. I looked at Marne and I noticed that desperate look on her face that a girl always wears when she passes an ice-cream lair. I knew that poor girl was hungry-maybe for the first time in her life. There was that anxious look in her eye that a woman has only when she has missed a meal or feels her skirt coming unfastened in the back.
I kept jerking my mind away from the subject of food, but it kept flopping back again before I could fasten it. I thought of everything good to eat I had ever heard of. I went away back to my kidhood and remembered the hot biscuit sopped in sorghum and bacon gravy with partiality and respect. Then I trailed along up the years, pausing at green apples and salt, flapjacks and maple, lye hominy, fried chicken Old Virginia style, corn on the cob, spareribs and sweet potato pie, and wound up with Georgia Brunswick stew, which is the top notch of good things to eat, because it comprises 'em all.
Well, when a man's starving he sees the ghost of every meal he ever ate set out before him, and he invents new dishes that would make the fortune of a chef. If somebody would collect the last words of men who starved to death, they'd have to sift 'em mighty fine to discover the sentiment, but they'd compile into a cook book that would sell into the millions.
Her eyes were sparkling and she smiled sudden. Draw one, and brown the wheats, double order to come. Oh, Jeff, wouldn't it be glorious! We ranges up and down and backward and forward over the main trunk lines and the branches of the victual subject, and Marne leads the game, for she is apprised in the ramifications of grub, and the dishes she nominates aggravates my yearnings.
It seems that there is a feeling that Marne will line up friendly again with food. It seems that she looks upon the obnoxious science of eating with less contempt than before. I geared up the bays, and we splashed out through the mud, some precarious, until we found the road again. We were only a few miles wrong, and in two hours we were in Oklahoma City. The first thing we saw was a big restaurant sign, and we piled into there in a hurry.
Here I finds myself sitting with Marne at table, with knives and forks and plates between us, and she not scornful, but smiling with starvation and sweetness. I designated a list of quotations from the bill of fare that made the waiter look out toward the wagon to see how many more might be coming. I looked across the table at Marne and smiled, for I had recollections. Marne was looking at the table like a boy looks at his first stem-winder.
Then she looked at me, straight in the face, and two big tears came in her eyes. The waiter was gone after more grub. I've looked at things from the wrong side. I never felt this way before. Men get hungry every day like this, don't they? They're big and strong, and they do the hard work of the world, and they don't eat just to spite silly waiter girls in restaurants, do they, Jeff?
You said once-that is, you asked me-you wanted me to—well, Jeff, if you still care—I'd be glad and willing to have you always sitting across the table from me. Now give me something to eat, quick, please. They get tired of the same old sights-the same old dinner table, washtub, and sewing machine. Give 'em a touch of the various-a little travel and a little rest, a little tomfoolery along with the tragedies of keeping house, a little petting after the blowing-up, a little upsetting and a little jostling around-and everybody in the game will have chips added to their stack by the play.
In short, they taught us that electricity is the cause of thunder. As long as they are united, nothing betrays their presence; it is as if they did not exist. But, once separated, they seek each other across all obstacles, attract each other, and rush toward each other with an explosion and a flash of light.
Then all is in complete repose until these two electric principles are again separated. The two electricities, therefore, supplement and neutralize each other; that is to say, they form something invisible, inoffensive, inert, that is found everywhere and is called neutral electricity.
To electrify a body is to decompose its neutral electricity, to disunite the two principles which, when mixed, remain inert, but, separated from each other, manifest their wonderful properties and their violent tendency to recombination. Rubbing is one way of effecting the separation of the two electric principles, but it is far from being the only one.
Every radical change in the inmost nature of a body also causes a manifestation of the two electricities. So clouds, which are water changed into vapor by the sun's heat, are often found to be electrified. This light is lightning; this burst of flame is a thunderbolt; the noise of the explosion is thunder.
Finally, the electric spark can dart from a cloud electrified in one way to a spot on the ground electrified in the other. To see the thunderbolt itself you must overcome an unwarranted fear and look attentively at the clouds, the center of the storm.
From moment to moment you can see a dazzling streak of light, simple or ramified, and of very irregular sinuous shape. A glowing furnace, metals at white heat, have not its brilliancy; the sun alone furnishes a comparison worthy the sovereign splendor of the thunderbolt.
For a moment I was blinded by its brightness, as if I had looked the sun full in the face. I should not dare to alone; it is so terrible. And yet, when from the bosom of the clouds there comes the dazzling flash of the thunderbolt and the whole region echoes with the crash of the explosion, a foolish fear dominates you; admiration has no further place in your mind, and your terrified eyes close at the magnificence of the electrical phenomena of the atmosphere, proclaiming with so much eloquence the majesty of the works of God.
From your heart, congealed with fear, there comes no outburst of gratitude, for you do not know that at this moment, in the flashes of lightning, the uproar of the shower, of the thunder, and of the unchained winds, a great providential act is being accomplished.
Thunder, in fact, is far more the cause of life than of death. In spite of the terrible but rare accidents that it causes, obeying in that the inscrutable decrees of God, it is one of the most powerful means that Providence employs to render the atmosphere wholesome, to clear the air we breathe of the deadly exhalations engendered by decay. We burn straw and paper torches in our rooms to purify the air; with its immense sheets of flame the thunderbolt produces an analogous effect in the surrounding atmosphere.
Each of those lightning flashes that make you start with fear is a pledge of general salubrity; each of those claps of thunder that freeze you with fear is a sign of the great work of purification that is operating in favor of life. And who does not know with what delight, after a storm, the breast fills itself with pure air, when the atmosphere, purified by the fires of the thunderbolt, gives new life to all that breathe it!
Let us beware then of a foolish terror when it thunders, but lift up our thoughts to God, from whom the thunder and the lightning have received their salutary mission. Let us always remember that nothing happens without the permission of our heavenly Father. A reverent fear of God ought to exclude all other fear. Let us, then, calmly examine the danger that a thunderbolt exposes us to. Let us remember above all that a thunderbolt by preference strikes the most prominent points of ground, for it is there that the opposite electricity, attracted by that of the storm-cloud, is present in greatest abundance, ready to unite with that which attracts it.
Then comes the moment when the two electricities, still attracting each other but no longer having a road open for their peaceful reunion, rush together with a crash. Then the streak of fire can't help reaching the tree. Is that it, Uncle! That is why, in fact, high buildings, towers, steeples, tall trees, are the points most exposed to fire from heaven. In the open country it would be very imprudent, during a storm to seek refuge from rain under a tree, especially a tall and isolated one.
If the thunderbolt is to fall in the neighborhood, it will preferably be upon that tree, which forms a high point where the electricity of the ground accumulates, to get as near as possible to that of the cloud attracting it. The sad and deplorable instances every year of persons struck by lightning are for the most part confined to the imprudent who seek shelter from the rain under a tall tree.
It is impious boldness to expose one's self to peril without a motive, and then to throw upon Providence the task of extricating us from our perilous situation. Heaven will help him who helps himself. We helped ourselves by fleeing from the dangerous tree, and we arrived home safe.
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Marta Melocco La donna nella sequenza del miracolo. L'uomo La donna in via veneto. Every radical change in the inmost nature of a body also causes a manifestation of the two electricities. So clouds, which are water changed into vapor by the sun's heat, are often found to be electrified. This light is lightning; this burst of flame is a thunderbolt; the noise of the explosion is thunder. Finally, the electric spark can dart from a cloud electrified in one way to a spot on the ground electrified in the other.
To see the thunderbolt itself you must overcome an unwarranted fear and look attentively at the clouds, the center of the storm. From moment to moment you can see a dazzling streak of light, simple or ramified, and of very irregular sinuous shape. A glowing furnace, metals at white heat, have not its brilliancy; the sun alone furnishes a comparison worthy the sovereign splendor of the thunderbolt.
For a moment I was blinded by its brightness, as if I had looked the sun full in the face. I should not dare to alone; it is so terrible. And yet, when from the bosom of the clouds there comes the dazzling flash of the thunderbolt and the whole region echoes with the crash of the explosion, a foolish fear dominates you; admiration has no further place in your mind, and your terrified eyes close at the magnificence of the electrical phenomena of the atmosphere, proclaiming with so much eloquence the majesty of the works of God.
From your heart, congealed with fear, there comes no outburst of gratitude, for you do not know that at this moment, in the flashes of lightning, the uproar of the shower, of the thunder, and of the unchained winds, a great providential act is being accomplished. Thunder, in fact, is far more the cause of life than of death. In spite of the terrible but rare accidents that it causes, obeying in that the inscrutable decrees of God, it is one of the most powerful means that Providence employs to render the atmosphere wholesome, to clear the air we breathe of the deadly exhalations engendered by decay.
We burn straw and paper torches in our rooms to purify the air; with its immense sheets of flame the thunderbolt produces an analogous effect in the surrounding atmosphere.
Each of those lightning flashes that make you start with fear is a pledge of general salubrity; each of those claps of thunder that freeze you with fear is a sign of the great work of purification that is operating in favor of life.
And who does not know with what delight, after a storm, the breast fills itself with pure air, when the atmosphere, purified by the fires of the thunderbolt, gives new life to all that breathe it!
Let us beware then of a foolish terror when it thunders, but lift up our thoughts to God, from whom the thunder and the lightning have received their salutary mission. Let us always remember that nothing happens without the permission of our heavenly Father. A reverent fear of God ought to exclude all other fear. Let us, then, calmly examine the danger that a thunderbolt exposes us to.
Let us remember above all that a thunderbolt by preference strikes the most prominent points of ground, for it is there that the opposite electricity, attracted by that of the storm-cloud, is present in greatest abundance, ready to unite with that which attracts it. Then comes the moment when the two electricities, still attracting each other but no longer having a road open for their peaceful reunion, rush together with a crash.
Then the streak of fire can't help reaching the tree. Is that it, Uncle! That is why, in fact, high buildings, towers, steeples, tall trees, are the points most exposed to fire from heaven. In the open country it would be very imprudent, during a storm to seek refuge from rain under a tree, especially a tall and isolated one.
If the thunderbolt is to fall in the neighborhood, it will preferably be upon that tree, which forms a high point where the electricity of the ground accumulates, to get as near as possible to that of the cloud attracting it.
The sad and deplorable instances every year of persons struck by lightning are for the most part confined to the imprudent who seek shelter from the rain under a tall tree. It is impious boldness to expose one's self to peril without a motive, and then to throw upon Providence the task of extricating us from our perilous situation. Heaven will help him who helps himself. We helped ourselves by fleeing from the dangerous tree, and we arrived home safe. But to help oneself effectively requires knowledge; so, to impress these things well on your mind, I emphasize once more the danger that, in time of storm, lurks in high towers, steeples, lofty buildings, and, above all, in tall and isolated trees.
As for other precautions that are commonly recommended, such as not to run, in order not to cause a violent displacement of the air, and to shut the doors and windows in order to prevent a draught, they are of no value whatever: Railway trains, which run at high speed and displace the air with so much violence, are not more exposed to lightning than objects at rest.
Every-day experience is a proof of it. They shut themselves up so as not to hear the thunder nor see the lightning; but that does not in the least lessen the danger. The lightning-conductor is composed of a rod of iron, long, strong, and pointed, fastened to the top of the building. From its base starts another rod, also of iron, which runs along the roofs and walls, where it is fastened with staples, and plunges into damp ground or, better still, into a deep well of water.
If a thunderbolt falls, it strikes the lightning-conductor, which is the nearest object to the cloud as well as the best suited to the electric current on account of its metallic nature. Besides, its pointed form has much to do with its efficacy. The bolt that strikes the metal lightning-conductor follows it and is dissipated in the depths of the earth without causing any damage.
She is all music, in the music of her movements bathed, they also soft with pensive grace, and very slow with suppleness that undulatingly unrolls. She has danced, she dances still. Men dark and fair have come and led her off, under the chandeliers in this insipid music,-insipid, and amusing her. Much has she danced O all this light! Yes, several waltzes; of her partners one could talk, or nearly could;-but he is ugly, and his fish eyes middle-class. The other, on her programme next, is far more handsome, surely: Two heads incline, she takes an arm: This waltz, it rolls with a voluptuous rhythm, in harmony with the rhythm of the Girl, like convoluted masses, musically vaporous and very heavy, volutas without end and curve on curve.
They dance, their curves leave traces of caresses in the air, their undulations are a most lascivious music. These curves are turning round lasciviously; she thinks no more, she turns, she turns, she undulates in air and in the music's kisses, tickled by something drunken, by this air which brushes her, this ball: Now nothing more, her eyes see nothing; things that turn, vague things, volutas vague without an end, and curves that drag her on in velvet rhythms.
But all the things around her turn too vaguely, too vaguely cycles turn barbaric, mad; all of it turning, turning; and if she look again she will be sure to fall! The waltz continues and lasciviously rolls, rolls in the dizziness of turning things, mad cycles, and all this softness, curves that languish fit to swoon! Feverishly and to flee the crazy dizziness of all these vague and circumambient things, as if to save her life she keeps her look on him.
This man, his eyes are shining; strangely beautiful, they shine with gleams fantastic, and from their fluid comes perverted charm, burning and dominating, almost animal, and with a glaucous glint that troubles her This well-nigh bestial look upon a somewhat pensive, handsome face And it is she, she Ashamed, in spite of all her dizziness, she takes away her eyes from him who seeks to conquer her.
But all is turning, all these things, these vague things turning, turning O too much! Delicate titillation like a feather's sudden touch electrifies her, half-fainting and surrendering she floats like flotsam on his arm; this arm, that like a very soft and powerful billow bears and cradles her; sweetly, irresistibly caresses her, bearing her onward, circling her with a voluptuous embrace, and This glaucous look, this virile and determined look, it weighs upon her, haunting the soft eddyings of the waltz,-and is not this a breath that brushes her, the stifled warmth of a desiring breath, man's breath on her neck But the waltz bears her on in whirling, vague, voluptuousness.
Mayer kis hivatalnok volt a Kiskereskedok Takarek- es Hitelszovetkezetenel. Mayer igen szelid erkolcsoknek orvendett. Mayernek nem volt egyebe, csak egy melabus kanari madara, s egy szep olajzold oszi feloltoje. Mayer egy porszem volt a vilagegyetemben. Egy szep reggel Mayert az igazgato behivatta a szovetkezet jozsefvarosi fiokjanak legbelso szobajaba. Baratsagosan kezet nyujtott neki, s szokatlanul unnepies hangon szolalvan meg, rovid szonoklatot intezett hozza, a mely szonoklatot meg Mayerhez merten is kicsinynek kell vallanunk a nyilvanossag elott.
Benne volt tovabba a penzpiacz adott viszonyainak korultekinto merlegelese s diohejban az egesz jovo evi koltsegeloiranyzat. De benne volt vegre az az orvendetes hir is, hogy az igazgatosag, tekintetbe veve minden tekintetbe veendot, Mayert kinevezni meltoztatott az intezet harmadik konyvvezetojeve, nyolczszaz forint evi fizetessel es szazhatvan forint lakaspenzzel.
Az orom nem Mayer savoszinu arcza, a gyors elomenetelhez kepest, hirtelen erdekes, elokelo halvanysagot oltott; de ez volt az egesz. Maga is csodalkozva vette eszre, hogy ugyanazon a hangon rebeg koszonetet, mint a melyen elobb beszelt, mikor meg nem volt ilyen nagy hivatalban. Mayernaka kartarsai, hasonlo, kiveteles helyzetekben, igen nagy bolondsagokat szoktak elkovetni.
A megfontolt Kohn tavaly ilyenkor sort fizetett az egesz osztalynak; 6 maga keveset ivott a sorbol s megis fajos fejjel merit haza. A konnyelmu Varga pedig a januari elolepteteskor elment egy mulatoba, majd egylovasra tilt s kihajtatott ejjel a varosligetbe, es vegul reggel, joval kapunyitas utan ballagott fel a lakasara. Mindezek bizonyara igen nagy balgatagsagok voltak; de Mayert meg jobban megbolonditotta a hirtelen orom.
Ismetlem, Mayer igen szelid erkolcsti fiatal ember volt; s az ilyenek, ha megkotyagosodnak, nem igen ismernek hatart a bolondsagban. Mayer azt cselekedte, hogy kiment a Felso-Erdosor Mayer egy ido ota gyakran megjelent ezen a minden vilagi zajtol messzeeso magaslaton; s ilyenkor harom kisasszony kozul mindig a legkisebbik nyitott neki ajtot. Ez a kisasszony mindig koczkas ruhaban jart, nagyon szepen tudott mosolyogni s nemi hasonlatossagokat fedezett fel Mayer es Orlando grof kozott, a kirol sokat olvasott.
Egyebet nem igen erdemes rola feljegyezntink, mert igen elmosodo szerepe lesz tortenettinkben. Ellenben jegyezztik fel, hogy szebb idot mar kepzelni se lehetett, es hogy az ablakok nyitva voltak. A szomszed kertben ket orgona-bokor oly szertelentil illatozott, mintha csaka Zola Emil regenyebol ultettek volna ide. A kozeli kavehazban zene szolott. Mi ket szeretok vagyunk, A ki' bujdos' a vilagba' Ez a hianyjeles kolteszet mamoritoan hangzott.
Es Mayer, hetven forinttal a zsebeben, a fejebe vette, hogy 6 a Rozsaszinu herczeg. Ah igen, ez ttinderi delutan volt. De, szokas szerint, ennek a dalnak ismet csak bus volt a vege. Mert Mayer foldontuli megindultsagaban megkerte a koczkas ruhas kisasszony kezet. Paolo Mantegazza ur, az 6 kabitoan tudomanyos es ingerloen szellemes fejtegeteseiben, szep parhuzamba allitva a no szerelmet a ferfieval, konok es ketsegbeejto bizonyossaggal allapitotta meg az utobbinak erkolcsi felsobbseget.
Megis, ugy tetszik, mindenre kiterjedo figyelmet elkerulte egy tapasztalat, mely minden ketseget kizaro ekesszolassal szol a tetel mellett. Ez a tapasztalat az, hogy mig a ferfi szerelme minduntalan surolja a nemes ortiltseget, a noe folyton-folyvast igyekszik a nyarspolgari jozansag kikotoje fele.
Ha a koczkas ruhas kisasszony szerelme epp oly mely, epp oly magas, epp oly hatartalan lett volna, mint a szerelem szaktudosai, elukon a bolygo hollandival, minden Sentatol hiaba varjak, akkor bizonyara fgy kellett volna szolnia a megbomlott Mayerhez: Ha felesegul mennek onhoz, meg nagyobb szegenyseg varna onre s meg nehezebbe tennem az eletet. De en szeretem ont s meg akarom ovni a szegeny csaladfok apro nyomorusagaitol. Valjunk el szepen egy baratsagos kezszoritassal.
Becsuljuk egymast a tavolbol s egy-egy szep, juniusi esten gondoljunk neha elso, utolso, egyszeri szerelmunkre. De a koczkas ruhas leany nem tudott folemelkedni erre az erkolcsi magaslatra.
Mayer masnap reggel szerette volna a fejet a falba verni. De becsuletes ember volt, s tudta, hogy ezt nem szabad tennie. Megelegedett tehat azzal, hogy megvakarta egy kisse. Aztan kettozott eberseggel figyelt a penzpiacznak makacsul allando s aggasztoan szigoru viszonyaira.
November elsejere folvett egy ketszobas lakast, november masodikan atvitte uj otthonaba oszi feloltojet es kanari madarat, szemrehanyoan nezett ra, s november harmadikan megeskudott a koczkas ruhas lanynyal. A koczkas ruhas holgy, a ki irant, ismeteljuk, ne tessek erdeklodni, nem vitt magaval az uj lakasba egyebet, csak a Dunbar Fani szoknyajat, mosolyat, mely egyetlen volt e kerek vilagon, es Mali nenit.
Ez a Mali neni egy dreg cseled volt, a ki ott szolgalt mar a koczkas ruhas holgy nagyanyjanal is. De a haz nem volt ilyen huseges termeszetu; ellenkezoleg, sietett idegen kezre jutni, s nem elni masutt, csak szep emlekezetben.
A nagy csalad is pusztult, sorvadt egyre. Nemzedekek haltak ki; ifjak, leanyok vandoroltak el szep rendben a temetobe, csak Mali neni maradt meg tunemenyes valtozatlansagban, mint egy oszlop, a melyre uj es uj, gyenge folyondarok kapaszkodnak. Mayer nem sokat ugyelt Mali nenire, s eleinte nem vette eszre, hogy a csalad a legkisebbik lanynyal odaadta neki a csaladi klenodiumot is.
Mayer egyatalaban nem igen ugyelhetett a konyhajara; nagyon elfoglaltak az egyenlegei. Alig ert ra megnezni: Ha 6 sem latta meg, en bizony nem merek megeskudni, vajon nem halvanyodott-e meg egy kisse az a kedves, igezo mosoly.
Istenem, Orlando grof oly pokoli hidegverrel veszit el a kartyaasztalnal otezer font sterlinget, es Mayer oly keserves abrazattal nyogte ki azt a legies konyhapenzt! Annyit azonban tudok, hogy egeszen nem szunt meg mosolyogni. Sot neha magaban is mosolygott, szegenyke, valami kicsiny, ismeretlen czelu varrasra hajolva. Ezenkozben Mayer nagyban viaskodott azokkal a lathatatlan, gonosz szellemekkel, a melyekrol az osszes nepek hitregei megfelejtkeztek, s melyeket a kozbeszedben apro adossagoknak szoktak nevezni.
Neha csodalta, hogy meg megvan, s szabadon rendelkezik a kezevel, labaval. Mayer nem szeretett a kozugyekkel foglalkozni, de egyet nagyra tartott az uj idok vfvmanyaibol, azt, hogy a haladottabb kor eltorulte az adosok bortonet.
S mialatt, kiindulvan ebbol a Cartesiusra emlekezteto megfigyelesbol, hogy: Be kellett latnia, hogy ennek az dreg cselednek jelentekeny resze van benne, ha 6 meg folyvast megfigyeleseket tehet onmagan s a rajta kivul levo dolgokon. Mert Mali neni azzal az adomanynyal dicsekedhetett, a melyet a regiek leginkabb bamultak: Viszont fizetseget epp oly kevesse fogadott el a Mayer-csaladtol, mint hajdan az urasagtol. Harom fiatal cseled helyett dolgozott, s a tiszteletdija az volt, hogy Mayer koronkint bizalmas beszelgetesbe ereszkedett vele.
Mayer nem volt rossz ember, s ugy gondolkozott, hogy Mali neninek boseges karpotlast fog adni mindjart az elso jo napokban. De a jo napoknak megvan az a rossz szokasuk, hogy nagyon keslekedve jonnek, s Mayer egy evi varakozas utan csak a meg rosszabb napokat ismerhette meg.
Ezekben a meg rosszabb napokban az tortent, hogy a jo Isten oda fenn igy rendelkezett: Eleg Mayer van mar a vilagon, arra az uj kis Mayerre nincsen semmi szukseg. A szegeny kis Mayerne ellenkezo velemenyen volt, mint a mindenseg ura. S ennek a nagyon egyenlotlen velemeny-kulonbsegnek az lett a vege, hogy az uj kis Mayerre csakugyan nem lett szukseg s a szegeny kis Mayerne orokre megszunt mosolyogni. Mali neni sirva gyalogolt ki a nagy koporso meg a kis koporso utan a nemetvolgyi temetobe, aztan elbucsuzott Mayertol s visszakoltozott a haldoklo csaladhoz, a negyedik emeletre.
A vingt-deux ans, fille encore, attendu son defaut de dot, et orpheline, elle habitait une pension de famille, rue du Ranelagh, et gagnait elle-meme sa vie en donnant des legons de piano, de chant, voire de grammaire frangaise et d'anglais, ce qui suppose une assez grande activite.
Qu'on n'imagine point, pour cela, une Suzon d'humeur chagrine, une coureuse de cachet gemissante et aspirant a bouleverser I'etat social. Suzon travaillait douze heures par jour et du peu de temps qui lui restait elle faisait une recreation en se montrant alors le plus joyeux et le plus spirituel boute-en-train. A cause de ce caractere heureux et de son talent de pianiste, on I'invitait beaucoup.
Elle passait presque toutes ses soirees en ville; elle avait, a sa Maison de famille, une autorisation speciale, la vie pour elle etant subordonnee aux relations qu'elle se pouvait faire. J'ai connu Suzon Despoix; je I'ai rencontree dans plusieurs maisons et je me porte garant qu'elle etait la plus honnete et, a tous les points de vue, la plus interessante fille du monde. Non pas jolie heureusement pour elle, mon Dieu! Mais une fois qu'on lui avait pu parler a coeur ouvert, on etait gagne par un regard qu'elle avait, par un je ne sais quoi situe aux environs de la narine et de la bouche, qui etait comme la signature des dieux.
Cette Suzon etait rare, douee a miracle; et pour dire d'elle ce qu'on se permet trap facilement en faveur de quiconque s'eleve d'une semelle au-dessus de la mediocrite: Un soir, chez des amis que je ne puis nommer, des gens charmants, cela va sans dire, j'ai vu la petite Suzon Despoix mise en un embarras et sortir de cet embarras d'une maniere qui me paraTt digne d'etre rapportee.
Sa voix n'avait rien d'extraordinaire; mais 'intelligence et le coeur, comme toutes les choses d'ordre moral, sont bien plus puissants que les dons physiques a subjuguer le monde, et les auditeurs avaient frissonne, I'horreur avait ete evoquee par la plus expressive image, et une grande pitie etait nee chez chacun pour tous les gens qui souffrent.
II sembla un moment que pas un des etres qui venaient d'etre secoues la ne fut capable desormais ni de commettre une injustice, ni de manquer a la generosite. Et je me perdais en considerations, avec un voisin de fauteuil, sur les courants bienfaisants qui passent ainsi parfois sur I'humanite et, Dieu me pardonne! La-dessus, notre Suzon, aureolee de son succes, fut suppliee de rester au piano. Alors elle joua ce qu'elle possedait le mieux, ou, plus exactement, quand il s'agit d'une nature de cette sorte, ce qui la possedait davantage.
Elle aimait Chopin comme d'amour; il ne se passait pas de jour qu'elle ne lui consacrat une heure ou davantage; encore n'osait elle se risquer a donner de lui qu'un nombre de pages assez reduit. Puis, elle executa la cinquieme valse, puis un nocturne dont je ne me rappelle pas le nombre ordinal, et, enfin en tout cas, le premier, ou elle croyait, disait-elle, reconnaitre la voix de I'etrange genie musical mourant et resumant en une phrase desolee sa destinee incomprehensible.
Les gens allaient de I'un a I'autre disant: On s'etait contente de constater qu'elle animait la compagnie. Quelque malin ayant dit: On demanda a Suzon: El le ne connaissait pas Un Tel; on avait ete dirige sur une mauvaise piste.
On en decouvrit sur-le-champ une autre. Suzon la rompit instantanement. El le n'osait pas dire, connaissant son monde, qu'elle n'avait pas eu de maitre. A la verite, elle avait ete commencee par son pere, homme completement inconnu, et, depuis lors, elle interpretait Chopin selon sa propre fantaisie, a son gout, avec passion il est vrai, et secondee qu'elle etait par un temperament original, toutes choses qui n'ont pas de valeur aux yeux du public quand elles ne sont point etayees d'une autorite incontestee, ou rendues croyables par la vertu d'un initiateur de grand nom.
On ajoute peu de foi aux dons spontanes; on s'incline devant le travail, la memoire; notre manie egalitaire ne nous permet de foi qu'en les choses qui s'apprennent; nous sommes au siecle de I'Ecole et non plus a celui des Fees.
Une jeune fille, avec elle assez familiere, s'approcha de Suzon Despoix et lui parla a I'oreille: II courut le salon. Quand la pauvre Suzon detacha sa derniere note, comme une perle au reflet melancolique, il etait avere, tant les imaginations vont vite, que cette pauvre fille etait la maTtresse d'un pianiste tcheco-slovaque depuis deux ans a Paris, et seul capable d'approcher a tel point de I'ame de I'incomparable Polonais.
Les relations de la petite Despoix et de cet etranger etaient suspectes, a n'en pas douter. Sans quoi pourquoi ne les eut-elle pas avouees? La maTtresse de maison, emue, vint a Suzon, lui fit comprendre doucement le danger couru et la supplia, afin d'eviter les facheuses interpretations, de confesser le nom de son maTtre.
J'ai dit la verite. El le saisissait parfaitement le cas et en prevoyait toutes les consequences. On lui demandait en somme de mentir. Sa nature, tres nette, repugnait a un tel moyen de se tirer d'affaire. Mais son humeur heureuse fut tentee par I'occasion qui lui etait en realite imposee de raconter une bouffonnerie enorme. Alors, el le eut tot fait de prendre son parti: Un soupir de soulagement s'echappa de I'assistance.
Personne ne connaissait, cela va sans dire, Vassili-Vassilievitch. Mais des I'instant qu'on etait informe que Suzon ne tirait pas son talent d'elle-meme, un maTtre, quel qu'il fut, etait non seulement agree, mais illustre d'emblee parson eleve. Suzon, devenue grave, semblait penser au fantome Vassili-Vassilievitch: Oui, c'etait un Russe II serait devenu bolchevik, dit Suzon: Mais, pourquoi ne le nommiez-vous pas, mademoiselle?
Et, pour ne pas pouffer de rire, el le mimait, les yeux exorbites, le poing haut, un terrifiant Vassili-Vassilievitch. Ce qu'il y a de certain, c'est que le pauvre gargon devait avoir un tier talent!
Quelqu'un, et non des moindres de la compagnie, opina toutefois qu'au point ou la petite en etait, elle pourrait se passer d'un maTtre. Et, de I'un a I'autre, on se consultait. Les opinions se resumerent finalement en ce propos: Elle en a eu un excellent. Grace a une invention mensongere, I'opinion publique, en ses exigences profondes, etait satisfaite.
Ainsi se termina, heureusement, la soiree qui avait failli mal tourner pour Suzon Despoix. Et celle-ci s'en alia, pauvre comme devant, prendre son tram 16 pour Passy, meditant en souriant au prix fabuleux qu'il lui faudrait taxer, la prochaine fois, les legons de son ex-professeur, Vassili-Vassilievitch. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U. It was-which was just the trouble! I guess I'm just a stickler, a perfectionist, but if you do a thing, I always say, you might as well do it right.
Everything satisfied me about the security measures on our assignment except one-the official Army designation. I don't know who thought it up, and I certainly would never ask, but whoever it was, he should have known better.
You give it something neutral, some name like the Manhattan and Overlord they used in World War II, which won't excite anybody's curiosity. But we were stuck with Project Hush and we had to take extra measures to ensure secrecy. Naturally, the commanding general of the heavily fortified research post to which we were attached could not ask what we were doing, under penalty of court-martial, but he had to be given further instructions to shut off his imagination like a faucet every time he heard an explosion.
Some idiot in Washington was actually going to list Project Hush in the military budget by name! It took fast action, I can tell you, to have it entered under Miscellaneous "X" Research. Well, we'd covered the unforgivable blunder, though not easily, and now we could get down to the real business of the project.
You know, of course, about the A-bomb, H-bomb and C-bomb because information that they existed had been declassified. You don't know about the other weapons being devised-and neither did we, reasonably enough, since they weren't our business-but we had been given properly guarded notification that they were in the works.
Project Hush was set up to counter the new weapons. Our goal was not just to reach the Moon. We had done that on 24 June with an unmanned ship that carried instruments to report back data on soil, temperature, cosmic rays and so on.
Unfortunately, it was put out of commission by a rock slide. An unmanned rocket would be useless against the new weapons. We had to get to the Moon before any other country did and set up a permanent station-an armed one-and do it without anybody else knowing about it. Project Hush were so concerned about security. But we felt pretty sure, before we took off, that we had plugged every possible leak.
We had, all right. Nobody even knew we had raised ship. We landed at the northern tip of Mare Nubium, just off Regiomontanus, and, after planting a flag with appropriate throat-catching ceremony, had swung into the realities of the tasks we had practiced on so many dry runs back on Earth.
Major Monroe Gridley prepared the big rocket, with its tiny cubicle of living space, for the return journey to Earth which he alone would make. Lieutenant-colonel Thomas Hawthorne painstakingly examined our provisions and portable quarters for any damage that might have been incurred in landing. We all finished at just about the same time, as per schedule, and went into Phase Two. Monroe and I started work on building the dome. It was a simple pre-fab affair, but big enough to require an awful lot of assembling.
Then, after it was built, we faced the real problem-getting all the complex internal machinery in place and in operating order. Meanwhile, Tom Hawthorne took his plump self off in the single-seater rocket which, up to then, had doubled as a lifeboat. The schedule called for him to make a rough three-hour scouting survey in an ever-widening spiral from our dome. This had been regarded as a probable waste of time, rocket fuel and manpower-but a necessary precaution.
He was supposed to watch for such things as bug-eyed monsters out for a stroll on the Lunar landscape. Basically, however, Tom's survey was intended to supply extra geological and astronomical meat for the report which Monroe was to carry back to Army HQ on Earth. Tom was back in forty minutes. His round face, inside its transparent bubble helmet, was fish-belly white.
And so were ours, once he told us what he'd seen. He had seen another dome. And it's not translucent, either, with splotches of different colors here and there-it's a dull, dark, heavy gray. But that's all there is to see. I can distinguish artificial from natural topography. Besides--" he looked up-"l just remembered something I left out.
There's a brand-new tiny crater near the dome-the kind usually left by a rocket exhaust. You can't tell from the crater what kind of propulsive device these characters are using. It's not the same kind of crater our rear-jets leave, if that helps any. So we went into our ship and had a council of war.
And I do mean war. Both Tom and Monroe were calling me Colonel in every other sentence. I used their first names every chance I got. Still, no one but me could reach a decision. About what to do, I mean. They know we are here-either from watching us land a couple of hours ago or from observing Tom's scout-ship-or they do not know we are here. They are either humans from Earth-in which case they are in all probability enemy nationals-or they are alien creatures from another planet-in which case they may be friends, enemies or what-have-you.
I think common sense and standard military procedure demand that we consider them hostile until we have evidence to the contrary. Meanwhile, we proceed with extreme caution, so as not to precipitate an interplanetary war with potentially friendly Martians, or whatever they are. It's vitally important that Army Headquarters be informed of this immediately. But since Moon-to-Earth radio is still on the drawing boards, the only way we can get through is to send Monroe back with the ship.
If we do, we run the risk of having our garrison force, Tom and me, captured while he's making the return trip. In that case, their side winds up in possession of important information concerning our personnel and equipment, while our side has only the bare knowledge that somebody or something else has a base on the Moon. So our primary need is more information.
Monroe will take the single-seater down to the Riphaen Mountains, landing as close to the other dome as he thinks safe. He will then proceed the rest of the way on foot, doing the best scouting job he can in a spacesuit. If he's captured, remembering that the first purpose of a scout is acquiring and transmitting knowledge of the enemy, he will snap his suit radio on full volume and pass on as much data as time and the enemy's reflexes permit.
How does that sound to you? As far as they were concerned, the command decision had been made. But I was sitting under two inches of sweat. There isn't too much choice. Didn't I ever tell you that my great-grandfather was the only Arapahoe scout who was with Custer at the Little Big Horn?
He'd been positive Sitting Bull was miles away. However, I'll do my best. And if I heroically don't come back, would you please persuade the Security Officer of our section to clear my name for use in the history books? Under the circumstances, I think it's the least he could do. After he took off, I sat in the dome over the telephone connection to Tom and hated myself for picking Monroe to do the job.
But I'd have hated myself just as much for picking Tom. And if anything happened and I had to tell Tom to blast off, I'd probably be sitting here in the dome all by myself after that, waiting He had landed the single-seater.
I didn't dare use the telephone to chat with Tom in the ship, for fear I might miss an important word or phrase from our scout. So I sat and sat and strained my ears. And then, abruptly, I heard Monroe yell my name and there was a terrific clattering in my headphones. He'd been caught, and whoever had caught him had simultaneously jammed his suit transmitter with a larger transmitter from the alien dome.
Then there was silence. After a while, I told Tom what had happened. He just said, "Poor Monroe. After capturing Monroe, whatever's in that other dome will come looking for us, I think. I'll let them get close enough for us to learn something of their appearance-at least if they're human or non-human.
Any bit of information about them is important. I'll shout it up to you and you'll still be able to take off in plenty of time. There was no oxygen system in the dome yet, so I had to squeeze up a sandwich from the food compartment in my suit.
I sat there, thinking about the expedition. Nine years, and all that careful secrecy, all that expenditure of money and mind-cracking research-and it had come to this. Waiting to be wiped out, in a blast from some unimaginable weapon. I understood Monroe's last request. We often felt we were so secret that our immediate superiors didn't even want us to know what we we were working on. Scientists are people-they wish for recognition, too. I was hoping the whole expedition would be written up in the history books, but it looked unpromising.
Two hours later, the scout ship landed near the dome. The lock opened and, from where I stood in the open door of our dome, I saw Monroe come out and walk toward me.
I alerted Tom and told him to listen carefully. He pushed his way past me and sat down on a box to one side of the dome. He put his booted feet up on another, smaller box. Oh, I see what you mean. The other dome-you want to know who's in it. You have a right to be curious, Ben. The leader of a top-secret expedition like this--Project Hush they call us, huh, Ben-finds another dome on the Moon.
He thinks he's been the first to land on it, so naturally he wants to-" "Major Monroe Gridley! Monroe just leaned back against the side of the dome. Only there are other ways, too. Where are they from-Russia, China, Argentina? The other dome is owned and operated by the Navy. The goddam United States Navy!
Project Gutenberg's Irradiations; Sand and Spray, by John Gould Fletcher Like cataracts that crash from a crumbling crag Into the dull-blue smouldering gulf of a lake below, Landlocked amid the mountains, so my soul Was a gorge that was filled with the warring echoes of song. Of old, they wore Shining armour, and banners of broad gold they bore: Now they drift, like a wild bird's cry, Downwards from chill summits of the sky. Fountains of flashing joy were their source afar; Now they lie still, to mirror every star.
In circles of opal, ruby, blue, out-thrown, They drift down to a dull, dark monotone. Pluck the loose strings, singer, Thrum the strings; For the wind brings distant, drowsy bells of song.