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The Moon Pool

Chapter 35. "Larry--Farewell!"
"MY HEART, Larry--" It was the handmaiden's murmur.
"My heart feels like a bird that is flying from a nest of sorrow."
We were pacing down the length of the bridge, guards of the Akka beside us, others
following with those companies of ladala that had rushed to aid us; in front of us the
bandaged Rador swung gently within a litter; beside him, in another, lay Nak, the frog-
king--much less of him than there had been before the battle began, but living.
Hours had passed since the terror I have just related. My
first task had been to search for Throckmartin and his wife among the fallen multitudes
strewn thick as autumn leaves along the flying arch of stone, over the cavern ledge, and
back, back as far as the eye could reach.
At last, Lakla and Larry helping, we found them. They lay close to the bridge-end, not
parted--locked tight in each other's arms, pallid face to face, her hair streaming over his
breast! As though when that unearthly life the Dweller had set within them passed away,
their own had come back for one fleeting instant--and they had known each other, and
clasped before kindly death had taken them.
"Love is stronger than all things." The handmaiden was weeping softly. "Love never left
them. Love was stronger than the Shining One. And when its evil fled, love went with
them--wherever souls go."
Of Stanton and Thora there was no trace; nor, after our discovery of those other two, did I
care to look more. They were dead--and they were free.
We buried Throckmartin and Edith beside Olaf in Lakla's bower. But before the body of
my old friend was placed within the grave I gave it a careful and sorrowful examination.
The skin was firm and smooth, but cold; not the cold of death, but with a chill that set my
touching fingers tingling unpleasantly. The body was bloodless; the course of veins and
arteries marked by faintly indented white furrows, as though their walls had long
collapsed. Lips, mouth, even the tongue, was paper white. There was no sign of
dissolution as we know it; no shadow or stain upon the marble surface. Whatever the
force that, streaming from the Dweller or impregnating its lair, had energized the dead-
alive, it was barrier against putrescence of any kind; that at least was certain.
But it was not barrier against the poison of the Medusae, for, our sad task done, and
looking down upon the waters, I saw the pale forms of the Dweller's hordes dissolving,
vanishing into the shifting glories of the gigantic moons sailing down upon them from
every quarter of the Sea of Crimson.
 
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