The First Men in the Moon – Day 34 of 82

Chapter 12: The Selenite’s Face

I found myself sitting crouched together in a tumultuous darkness. For a long time I could not understand where I was, nor how I had come to this perplexity. I thought of the cupboard into which I had been thrust at times when I was a child, and then of a very dark and noisy bedroom in which I had slept during an illness. But these sounds about me were not the noises I had known, and there was a thin flavour in the air like the wind of a stable. Then I supposed we must still be at work upon the sphere, and that somehow I had got into the cellar of Cavor’s house. I remembered we had finished the sphere, and fancied I must still be in it and travelling through space.

“Cavor,” I said, “cannot we have some light?”

There came no answer.

“Cavor!” I insisted.

I was answered by a groan. “My head!” I heard him say; “my head!”

I attempted to press my hands to my brow, which ached, and discovered they were tied together. This startled me very much. I brought them up to my mouth and felt the cold smoothness of metal. They were chained together. I tried to separate my legs and made out they were similarly fastened, and also that I was fastened to the ground by a much thicker chain about the middle of my body.

I was more frightened than I had yet been by anything in all our strange experiences. For a time I tugged silently at my bonds. “Cavor!” I cried out sharply. “Why am I tied? Why have you tied me hand and foot?”

“I haven’t tied you,” he answered. “It’s the Selenites.”

The Selenites! My mind hung on that for a space. Then my memories came back to me: the snowy desolation, the thawing of the air, the growth of the plants, our strange hopping and crawling among the rocks and vegetation of the crater. All the distress of our frantic search for the sphere returned to me…. Finally the opening of the great lid that covered the pit!

Then as I strained to trace our later movements down to our present plight, the pain in my head became intolerable. I came to an insurmountable barrier, an obstinate blank.



“Where are we?”

“How should I know?”

“Are we dead?”

“What nonsense!”

“They’ve got us, then!”

He made no answer but a grunt. The lingering traces of the poison seemed to make him oddly irritable.

“What do you mean to do?”

“How should I know what to do?”

“Oh, very well!” said I, and became silent. Presently, I was roused from a stupor. “O Lord!” I cried; “I wish you’d stop that buzzing!”

We lapsed into silence again, listening to the dull confusion of noises like the muffled sounds of a street or factory that filled our ears. I could make nothing of it, my mind pursued first one rhythm and then another, and questioned it in vain. But after a long time I became aware of a new and sharper element, not mingling with the rest but standing out, as it were, against that cloudy background of sound. It was a series of relatively very little definite sounds, tappings and rubbings, like a loose spray of ivy against a window or a bird moving about upon a box. We listened and peered about us, but the darkness was a velvet pall. There followed a noise like the subtle movement of the wards of a well-oiled lock. And then there appeared before me, hanging as it seemed in an immensity of black, a thin bright line.

“Look!” whispered Cavor very softly.

“What is it?”

“I don’t know.”

We stared.

The thin bright line became a band, and broader and paler. It took upon itself the quality of a bluish light falling upon a white-washed wall. It ceased to be parallel-sided; it developed a deep indentation on one side. I turned to remark this to Cavor, and was amazed to see his ear in a brilliant illumination–all the rest of him in shadow. I twisted my head round as well as my bonds would permit. “Cavor,” I said, “it’s behind!”

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