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The Coming Race

Chapter 4
I now came in full sight of the building. Yes, it had been made by hands, and hollowed
partly out of a great rock. I should have supposed it at the first glance to have been of the
earliest form of Egyptian architecture. It was fronted by huge columns, tapering upward
from massive plinths, and with capitals that, as I came nearer, I perceived to be more
ornamental and more fantastically graceful that Egyptian architecture allows. As the
Corinthian capital mimics the leaf of the acanthus, so the capitals of these columns
imitated the foliage of the vegetation neighbouring them, some aloe-like, some fern-like.
And now there came out of this building a form- human;- was it human? It stood on the
broad way and looked around, beheld me and approached. It came within a few yards of
me, and at the sight and presence of it an indescribable awe and tremor seized me, rooting
my feet to the ground. It reminded me of symbolical images of Genius or Demon that are
seen on Etruscan vases or limned on the walls of Eastern sepulchres- images that borrow
the outlines of man, and are yet of another race. It was tall, not gigantic, but tall as the
tallest man below the height of giants.
Its chief covering seemed to me to be composed of large wings folded over its breast and
reaching to its knees; the rest of its attire was composed of an under tunic and leggings of
some thin fibrous material. It wore on its head a kind of tiara that shone with jewels, and
carried in its right hand a slender staff of bright metal like polished steel. But the face! it
was that which inspired my awe and my terror. It was the face of man, but yet of a type of
man distinct from our known extant races. The nearest approach to it in outline and
expression is the face of the sculptured sphinx- so regular in its calm, intellectual,
mysterious beauty. Its colour was peculiar, more like that of the red man than any other
variety of our species, and yet different from it- a richer and a softer hue, with large black
eyes, deep and brilliant, and brows arched as a semicircle. The face was beardless; but a
nameless something in the aspect, tranquil though the expression, and beauteous though
the features, roused that instinct of danger which the sight of a tiger or serpent arouses. I
felt that this manlike image was endowed with forces inimical to man. As it drew near, a
cold shudder came over me. I fell on my knees and covered my face with my hands.