A Voyage to Arcturus HTML version

Chapter 5. The Night Of Departure
When they returned to the house, the windows were all in darkness and the door was ajar,
just as they had left it; Krag presumably was not there. Maskull went all over the house,
striking matches in every room - at the end of the examination he was ready to swear that
the man they were expecting had not even stuck his nose inside the premises. Groping
their way into the library, they sat down in the total darkness to wait, for nothing else
remained to be done. Maskull lit his pipe, and began to drink the remainder of the
whisky. Through the open window sounded in their ears the trainlike grinding of the sea
at the foot of the cliffs.
"Krag must be in the tower after all," remarked Maskull, breaking the silence.
"Yes, he is getting ready."
"I hope he doesn't expect us to join him there. It was beyond my powers - but why,
heaven knows. The stairs must have a magnetic pull of some sort."
"It is Tormantic gravity," muttered Nightspore.
"I understand you - or, rather, I don't - but it doesn't matter."
He went on smoking in silence, occasionally taking a mouthful of the neat liquor. "Who
is Surtur?" he demanded abruptly.
"We others are gropers and bunglers, but he is a master."
Maskull digested this. "I fancy you are right, for though I know nothing about him his
mere name has an exciting effect on me.. .. Are you personally acquainted with him?"
"I must be ... I forget ... " replied Nightspore in a choking voice.
Maskull looked up, surprised, but could make nothing out in the blackness of the room.
"Do you know so many extraordinary men that you can forget some of them? ... Perhaps
you can tell me this. - , will we meet him, where we are going?"
"You will meet death, Maskull.... Ask me no more questions - I can't answer them."
"Then let us go on waiting for Krag," said Maskull coldly.
Ten minutes later the front door slammed, and a light, quick footstep was heard running
up the stairs. Maskull got up, with a beating heart.