A Voyage to Arcturus HTML version

Chapter 6. Joiwind
IT WAS DENSE NIGHT when Maskull awoke from his profound sleep. A wind was
blowing against him, gentle but wall - like, such as he had never experienced on earth. He
remained sprawling on the ground, as he was unable to lift his body because of its intense
weight. A numbing pain, which he could not identify with any region of his frame, acted
from now onward as a lower, sympathetic note to all his other sensations. It gnawed away
at him continuously; sometimes it embittered and irritated him, at other times he forgot it.
He felt something hard on his forehead. Putting his hand up, he discovered there a fleshy
protuberance the size of a small plum, having a cavity in the middle, of which he could
not feel the bottom. Then he also became aware of a large knob on each side of his neck,
an inch below the ear.
From the region of his heart, a tentacle had budded. It was as long as his arm, but thin,
like whipcord, and soft and flexible.
As soon as he thoroughly realised the significance of these new organs, his heart began to
pump. Whatever might, or might not, be their use, they proved one thing that he was in a
new world.
One part of the sky began to get lighter than the rest. Maskull cried out to his
companions, but received no response. This frightened him. He went on shouting out, at
irregular intervals - equally alarmed at the silence and at the sound of his own voice.
Finally, as no answering hail came, he thought it wiser not to make too much noise, and
after that he lay quiet, waiting in cold blood for what might happen.
In a short while he perceived dim shadows around him, but these were not his friends.
A pale, milky vapour over the ground began to succeed the black night, while in the
upper sky rosy tints appeared. On earth, one would have said that day was breaking. The
brightness went on imperceptibly increasing for a very long time.
Maskull then discovered that he was lying on sand. The colour of the sand was scarlet.
The obscure shadows he had seen were bushes, with black stems and purple leaves. So
far, nothing else was visible.
The day surged up. It was too misty for direct sunshine, but before long the brilliance of
the light was already greater than that of the midday sun on earth. The heat, too, was
intense, but Maskull welcomed it - it relieved his pain and diminished his sense of
crushing weight. The wind had dropped with the rising of the sun.
He now tried to get onto his feet, but succeeded only in kneeling. He was unable to see
far. The mists had no more than partially dissolved, and all that he could distinguish was
a narrow circle of red sand dotted with ten or twenty bushes.