The First Men in the Moon – Day 2 of 82

That outlook on the marsh was, indeed, one of the finest views I have ever seen. I suppose Dungeness was fifteen miles away; it lay like a raft on the sea, and farther westward were the hills by Hastings under the setting sun. Sometimes they hung close and clear, sometimes they were faded and low, and often the drift of the weather took them clean out of sight. And all the nearer parts of the marsh were laced and lit by ditches and canals.

The window at which I worked looked over the skyline of this crest, and it was from this window that I first set eyes on Cavor. It was just as I was struggling with my scenario, holding down my mind to the sheer hard work of it, and naturally enough he arrested my attention.

The sun had set, the sky was a vivid tranquillity of green and yellow, and against that he came out black–the oddest little figure.

He was a short, round-bodied, thin-legged little man, with a jerky quality in his motions; he had seen fit to clothe his extraordinary mind in a cricket cap, an overcoat, and cycling knickerbockers and stockings. Why he did so I do not know, for he never cycled and he never played cricket. It was a fortuitous concurrence of garments, arising I know not how. He gesticulated with his hands and arms, and jerked his head about and buzzed. He buzzed like something electric. You never heard such buzzing. And ever and again he cleared his throat with a most extraordinary noise.

There had been rain, and that spasmodic walk of his was enhanced by the extreme slipperiness of the footpath. Exactly as he came against the sun he stopped, pulled out a watch, hesitated. Then with a sort of convulsive gesture he turned and retreated with every manifestation of haste, no longer gesticulating, but going with ample strides that showed the relatively large size of his feet–they were, I remember, grotesquely exaggerated in size by adhesive clay–to the best possible advantage.

This occurred on the first day of my sojourn, when my play-writing energy was at its height and I regarded the incident simply as an annoying distraction–the waste of five minutes. I returned to my scenario. But when next evening the apparition was repeated with remarkable precision, and again the next evening, and indeed every evening when rain was not falling, concentration upon the scenario became a considerable effort. “Confound the man,” I said, “one would think he was learning to be a marionette!” and for several evenings I cursed him pretty heartily. Then my annoyance gave way to amazement and curiosity. Why on earth should a man do this thing? On the fourteenth evening I could stand it no longer, and so soon as he appeared I opened the french window, crossed the verandah, and directed myself to the point where he invariably stopped.

He had his watch out as I came up to him. He had a chubby, rubicund face with reddish brown eyes–previously I had seen him only against the light. “One moment, sir,” said I as he turned. He stared. “One moment,” he said, “certainly. Or if you wish to speak to me for longer, and it is not asking too much–your moment is up–would it trouble you to accompany me?”

“Not in the least,” said I, placing myself beside him.

“My habits are regular. My time for intercourse–limited.”

“This, I presume, is your time for exercise?”

“It is. I come here to enjoy the sunset.”

“You don’t.”


“You never look at it.”

“Never look at it?”

“No. I’ve watched you thirteen nights, and not once have you looked at the sunset–not once.”

He knitted his brows like one who encounters a problem.

“Well, I enjoy the sunlight–the atmosphere–I go along this path, through that gate”–he jerked his head over his shoulder–“and round–“

“You don’t. You never have been. It’s all nonsense. There isn’t a way. To-night for instance–“

“Oh! to-night! Let me see. Ah! I just glanced at my watch, saw that I had already been out just three minutes over the precise half-hour, decided there was not time to go round, turned–“

“You always do.”

He looked at me–reflected. “Perhaps I do, now I come to think of it. But what was it you wanted to speak to me about?”

“Why, this!”


“Yes. Why do you do it? Every night you come making a noise–“

“Making a noise?”

“Like this.” I imitated his buzzing noise. He looked at me, and it was evident the buzzing awakened distaste. “Do I do that?” he asked.

“Every blessed evening.”

“I had no idea.”

He stopped dead. He regarded me gravely. “Can it be,” he said, “that I have formed a Habit?”

“Well, it looks like it. Doesn’t it?”

He pulled down his lower lip between finger and thumb. He regarded a puddle at his feet.

“My mind is much occupied,” he said. “And you want to know why! Well, sir, I can assure you that not only do I not know why I do these things, but I did not even know I did them. Come to think, it is just as you say; I never have been beyond that field…. And these things annoy you?”

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