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A Voyage to Arcturus

He picked up an old iron bolt from the yard and, retreating to a safe distance, hurled it
against a sash window on the ground floor. The lower pane was completely shattered.
Carefully avoiding the broken glass, Maskull thrust his hand through the aperture and
pushed back the frame fastening. A minute later they had climbed through and were
standing inside the house.
The room, which was a kitchen, was in an indescribably filthy and neglected condition.
The furniture scarcely held together, broken utensils and rubbish lay on the floor instead
of on the dust heap, everything was covered with a deep deposit of dust. The atmosphere
was so foul that Maskull judged that no fresh air had passed into the room for several
months. Insects were crawling on the walls.
They went into the other rooms on the lower floor - a scullery, a barely furnished dining
room, and a storing place for lumber. The same dirt, mustiness, and neglect met their
eyes. At least half a year must have elapsed since these rooms were last touched, or even
entered.
"Does your faith in Krag still hold?" asked Maskull. "I confess mine is at vanishing point.
If this affair isn't one big practical joke, it has every promise of being one. Krag never
lived here in his life."
"Come upstairs first," said Nightspore.
The upstairs rooms proved to consist of a library and three bedrooms. All the windows
were tightly closed, and the air was insufferable. The beds had been slept in, evidently a
long time ago, and had never been made since. The tumbled, discoloured bed linen
actually preserved the impressions of the sleepers. There was no doubt that these
impressions were ancient, for all sorts of floating dirt had accumulated on the sheets and
coverlets.
"Who could have slept here, do you think?" interrogated Maskull. "The observatory
staff?"
"More likely travellers like ourselves. They left suddenly."
Maskull flung the windows wide open in every room he came to, and held his breath until
he had done so. Two of the bedrooms faced the sea; the third, the library, the upward -
sloping moorland. This library was now the only room left unvisited, and unless they
discovered signs of recent occupation here Maskull made up his mind to regard the whole
business as a gigantic hoax.
But the library, like all the other rooms, was foul with stale air and dust - laden. Maskull,
having flung the window up and down, fell heavily into an armchair and looked
disgustedly at his friend.
"Now what is your opinion of Krag?"
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