A Voyage to Arcturus HTML version
They left the house by the door, which they left ajar, and immediately found themselves
again on the moorland road that had brought them from Haillar. This time they continued
along it, past the tower.
Maskull, as they went by, regarded the erection with puzzled interest. "What is that
"We sail from the platform on the top."
"Tonight?" - throwing him a quick look.
Maskull smiled, but his eyes were grave. "Then we are looking at the gateway of
Arcturus, and Krag is now travelling north to unlock it."
"You no longer think it impossible, I fancy," mumbled Nightspore.
After a mile or two, the road parted from the sea coast and swerved sharply inland, across
the hills. With Nightspore as guide, they left it and took to the grass. A faint sheep path
marked the way along the cliff edge for some distance, but at the end of another mile it
vanished. The two men then had some rough walking up and down hillsides and across
deep gullies. The sun disappeared behind the hills, and twilight imperceptibly came on.
They soon reached a spot where further progress appeared impossible. The buttress of a
mountain descended at a steep angle to the very edge of the cliff, forming an impassable
slope of slippery grass. Maskull halted, stroked his beard, and wondered what the next
step was to be.
"There's a little scrambling here," said Nightspore. "We are both used to climbing, and
there is not much in it." He indicated a narrow ledge, winding along the face of the
precipice a few yards beneath where they were standing. It averaged from fifteen to thirty
inches in width. Without waiting for Maskull's consent to the undertaking, he instantly
swung himself down and started walking along this ledge at a rapid pace. Maskull, seeing
that there was no help for it, followed him. The shelf did not extend for above a quarter of
a mile, but its passage was somewhat unnerving; there was a sheer drop to the sea, four
hundred feet below. In a few places they had to sidle along without placing one foot
before another. The sound of the breakers came up to them in a low, threatening roar.
Upon rounding a corner, the ledge broadened out into a fair - sized platform of rock and
came to a sudden end. A narrow inlet of the sea separated them from the continuation of
the cliffs beyond.
"As we can't get any further," said Maskull, "I presume this is your Gap of Sorgie?"