The House on the Borderland
18. The Green Star
"THE WORLD was held in a savage gloom--cold and intolerable. Outside, all was quiet--
quiet! From the dark room behind me, came the occasional, soft thud (*) of falling
matter--fragments of rotting stone. So time passed, and night grasped the world,
wrapping it in wrappings of impenetrable blackness. "There was no night-sky, as we
know it. Even the few straggling stars had vanished, conclusively. I might have been in a
shuttered room, without a light; for all that I could see. Only, in the impalpableness of
gloom, opposite, burnt that vast, encircling hair of dull fire. Beyond this, there was no ray
in all the vastitude of night that surrounded me; save that, far in the North, that soft, mist-
like glow still shone.
"Silently, years moved on. What period of time passed, I shall never know. It seemed to
me, waiting there, that eternities came and went, stealthily; and still I watched. I could
see only the glow of the sun's edge, at times; for now, it had commenced to come and go-
-lighting up a while, and again becoming extinguished.
"All at once, during one of these periods of life, a sudden flame cut across the night--a
quick glare that lit up the dead earth, shortly; giving me a glimpse of its flat
lonesomeness. The light appeared to come from the sun--shooting out from somewhere
near its centre, diagonally. A moment, I gazed, startled. Then the leaping flame sank, and
the gloom fell again. But now it was not so dark; and the sun was belted by a thin line of
vivid, white light. I stared, intently. Had a volcano broken out on the sun? Yet, I
negatived the thought, as soon as formed. I felt that the light had been far too intensely
white, and large, for such a cause.
"Another idea there was, that suggested itself to me. It was, that one of the inner planets
had fallen into the sun--becoming incandescent, under that impact. This theory appealed
to me, as being more plausible, and accounting more satisfactorily for the extraordinary
size and brilliance of the blaze, that had lit up the dead world, so unexpectedly.
"Full of interest and emotion, I stared, across the darkness, at that line of white fire,
cutting the night. One thing it told to me, unmistakably: the sun was yet rotating at an
enormous speed. (2) Thus, I knew that the years were still fleeting at an incalculable rate;
though so far as the earth was concerned, life, and light, and time, were things belonging
to a period lost in the long gone ages.
"After that one burst of flame, the light had shown, only as an encircling band of bright
fire. Now, however, as I watched, it began slowly to sink into a ruddy tint, and, later, to a
dark, copper-red colour; much as the sun had done. Presently, it sank to a deeper hue;
and, in a still further space of time, it began to fluctuate; having periods of glowing, and
anon, dying. Thus, after a great while, it disappeared.