A Voyage to Arcturus HTML version
"And then the Ocean. But what is the name of that Ocean?"
"That is told only to those who die beside it."
"Is the secret so precious, Corpang?"
Branchspell was nearing the horizon in the west; there were more than two hours of
daylight remaining. The air all around them became murky. It was a thin mist, neither
damp nor cold. The Lichstorm Range now appeared only as a blur on the sky. The air
was electric and tingling, and was exciting in its effect. Maskull felt a sort of emotional
inflammation, as though a very slight external cause would serve to overturn his self-
control. Corpang stood silent with a mouth like iron.
Maskull kept looking toward a high pile of rocks in the vicinity.
"That seems to me a good watchtower. Perhaps we shall see something from the top."
Without waiting for his companion's opinion, he began to scramble up the tor, and in a
few minutes was standing on the summit. Corpang joined him.
From their viewpoint they saw the whole countryside sloping down to the sea, which
appeared as a mere flash of far-off, glittering water. Leaving all that, however, Maskull's
eyes immediately fastened themselves on a small, boat-shaped object, about two miles
away, which was travelling rapidly toward them, suspended only a few feet in the air.
"What do you make of that?" he asked in a tone of astonishment.
Corpang shook his head and said nothing.
Within two minutes the flying object, whatever it was, had diminished the distance
between them by one half. It resembled a boat more and more, but its flight was erratic,
rather than smooth; its nose was continually jerking upward and downward, and from
side to side. Maskull now made out a man sitting in the stern, and what looked like a
large dead animal lying amidships. As the aerial craft drew nearer, he observed a thick,
blue haze underneath it, and a similar haze behind, but the front, facing them, was clear.
"Here must be what we are waiting for, Corpang. But what on earth carries it?"
He stroked his beard contemplatively, and then, fearing that they had not been seen,
stepped onto the highest rock, bellowed loudly, and made wild motions with his arm. The
flying-boat, which was only a few hundred yards distant, slightly altered its course, now
heading toward them in a way that left no doubt that the steersman had detected their
The boat slackened speed until it was travelling no faster than a walking man, but the
irregularity of its movements continued. It was shaped rather queerly. About twenty feet