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The Moon Pool

Chapter 17. The Leprechaun
THE SHELL carried us straight back to the house of Yolara. Larry was awaiting me. We
stood again before the tenebrous wall where first we had faced the priestess and the
Voice. And as we stood, again the portal appeared with all its disconcerting, magical
abruptness.
But now the scene was changed. Around the jet table were grouped a number of figures--
Lugur, Yolara beside him; seven others-all of them fair-haired and all men save one who
sat at the left of the priestess--an old, old woman, how old I could not tell, her face
bearing traces of beauty that must once have been as great as Yolara's own, but now
ravaged, in some way awesome; through its ruins the fearful, malicious gaiety shining out
like a spirit of joy held within a corpse!
Began then our examination, for such it was. And as it progressed I was more and more
struck by the change in the O'Keefe. All flippancy was gone, rarely did his sense of
humour reveal itself in any of his answers. He was like a cautious swordsman, fencing,
guarding, studying his opponent; or rather, like a chess-player who keeps sensing some
far-reaching purpose in the game: alert, contained, watchful. Always he stressed the
power of our surface races, their multitudes, their solidarity.
Their questions were myriad. What were our occupations? Our system of government?
How great were the waters? The land? Intensely interested were they in the World War,
querying minutely into its causes, its effects. In our weapons their interest was avid. And
they were exceedingly minute in their examination of us as to the ruins which had excited
our curiosity; their position and surroundings--and if others than ourselves might be
expected to find and pass through their entrance!
At this I shot a glance at Lugur. He did not seem unduly interested. I wondered if the
Russian had told him as yet of the girl of the rosy wall of the Moon Pool Chamber and
the real reasons for our search. Then I answered as briefly as possible--omitting all
reference to these things. The red dwarf watched me with unmistakable amusement--and
I knew Marakinoff had told him. But clearly Lugur had kept his information even from
Yolara; and as clearly she had spoken to none of that episode when O'Keefe's automatic
had shattered the Keth-smitten vase. Again I felt that sense of deep bewilderment--of
helpless search for clue to all the tangle.
For two hours we were questioned and then the priestess called Rador and let us go.
Larry was sombre as we returned. He walked about the room uneasily.
"Hell's brewing here all right," he said at last, stopping before me. "I can't make out just
the particular brand-that's all that bothers me. We're going to have a stiff fight, that's sure.
What I want to do quick is to find the Golden Girl, Doc. Haven't seen her on the wall
lately, have you?" he queried, hopefully fantastic.
 
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