A Voyage to Arcturus HTML version
"Will you say goodbye to the boys? Shall I call them?" She considered a moment.
"Yes - yes, I must see them."
He put the shell to his mouth, and blew; a loud, mournful noise passed through the air.
A few minutes later there was a sound of scurrying footsteps, and the boys were seen
emerging from the forest. Maskull looked with curiosity at the first children he had seen
on Tormance. The oldest boy was carrying the youngest on his back, while the third
trotted some distance behind. The child was let down, and all the three formed a
semicircle in front of Maskull, standing staring up at him with wide-open eyes. Polecrab
looked on stolidly, but Gleameil glanced away from them, with proudly raised head and a
Maskull put the ages of the boys at about nine, seven, and five years, respectively; but he
was calculating according to Earth time. The eldest was tall, slim, but strongly built. He,
like his brothers, was naked, and his skin from top to toe was ulfire-colored. His facial
muscles indicated a wild and daring nature, and his eyes were like green fires. The
second showed promise of being a broad, powerful man. His head was large and heavy,
and drooped. His face and skin were reddish. His eyes were almost too sombre and
penetrating for a child's.
"That one," said Polecrab, pinching the boy's ear, "may perhaps grow up to be a second
"Who was that?" demanded the boy, bending his head forward to hear the answer.
"A big, old man, of marvellous wisdom. He became wise by making up his mind never to
ask questions, but to find things out for himself."
"If I had not asked this question, I should not have known about him."
"That would not have mattered," replied the father.
The youngest child was paler and slighter than his brothers. His face was mostly tranquil
and expressionless, but it had this peculiarity about it, that every few minutes, without
any apparent cause, it would wrinkle up and look perplexed. At these times his eyes,
which were of a tawny gold, seemed to contain secrets difficult to associate with one of
"He puzzles me," said Polecrab. "He has a soul like sap, and he's interested in nothing.
He may turn out to be the most remarkable of the bunch."
Maskull took the child in one hand, and lifted him as high as his head. He took a good
look at him, and set him down again. The boy never changed countenance.