A Voyage to Arcturus HTML version
Chapter 20. Barey
The day had already dawned, but it was not yet sunrise when Maskull awoke from his
miserable sleep. He sat up and yawned feebly. The air was cool and sweet. Far away
down the landslip a bird was singing; the song consisted of only two notes, but it was so
plaintive and heartbreaking that he scarcely knew how to endure it.
The eastern sky was a delicate green, crossed by a long, thin band of chocolate-coloured
cloud near the horizon. The atmosphere was blue - tinted, mysterious, and hazy. Neither
Sarclash nor Adage was visible. The saddle of the Pass was five hundred feet above him;
he had descended that distance overnight. The landslip continued downward, like a huge
flying staircase, to the upper slopes of Barey, which lay perhaps fifteen hundred feet
beneath. The surface of the Pass was rough, and the angle was excessively steep, though
not precipitous. It was above a mile across. On each side of it, east and west, the dark
walls of the ridge descended sheer. At the point where the pass sprang outward they were
two thousand feet from top to bottom, but as the ridge went upward, on the one hand
toward Adage, on the other toward Sarclash, they attained almost unbelievable heights.
Despite the great breadth and solidity of the pass, Maskull felt as though he were
suspended in midair.
The patch of broken, rich, brown soil observable not far away marked Sullenbode's
grave. He had interred her by the light of the moon, with a long, flat stone for a spade. A
little lower down, the white steam of a hot spring was curling about in the twilight. From
where he sat he was unable to see the pool into which the spring ultimately flowed, but it
was in that pool that he had last night washed first of all the dead girl's body, and then his
He got up, yawned again, stretched himself, and looked around him dully. For a long
time he eyed the grave. The half-darkness changed by imperceptible degrees to full day;
the sun was about to appear. The sky was nearly cloudless. The whole wonderful extent
of the mighty ridge behind him began to emerge from the morning mist .. . there was a
part of Sarclash, and the ice-green crest of gigantic Adage itself, which he could only
take in by throwing his head right back.
He gazed at everything in weary apathy, like a lost soul. All his desires were gone
forever; he wished to go nowhere, and to do nothing. He thought he would go to Barey.
He went to the warm pool, to wash the sleep out of his eyes. Sitting beside it, watching
the bubbles, was Krag.
Maskull thought that he was dreaming. The man was clothed in a skin shirt and breeches.
His face was stem, yellow, and ugly. He eyed Maskull without smiling or getting up.
"Where in the devil's name have you come from, Krag?"