The Moon Pool HTML version

Chapter 24. The Crimson Sea
I WAS in the heart of a rose pearl, swinging, swinging; no, I was in a rosy dawn cloud,
pendulous in space. Consciousness flooded me, in reality I was in the arms of one of the
man frogs, carrying me as though I were a babe, and we were passing through some place
suffused with glow enough like heart of pearl or dawn cloud to justify my awakening
Just ahead walked Lakla in earnest talk with Rador, and content enough was I for a time
to watch her. She had thrown off the metallic robes; her thick braids of golden brown hair
with their flame glints of bronze were twined in a high coronal meshed in silken net of
green; little clustering curls escaped from it, clinging to the nape of the proud white neck,
shyly kissing it. From her shoulders fell a loose, sleeveless garment of shimmering green
belted with a high golden girdle; skirt folds dropping barely below the knees.
She had cast aside her buskins, too, and the slender, higharched feet were sandalled.
Between the buckled edges of her kirtle I caught gleams of translucent ivory as
exquisitely moulded, as delectably rounded, as those revealed so naively beneath the
Something was knocking at the doors of my consciousness --some tragic thing. What was
it? Larry! Where was Larry? I remembered; raised my head abruptly; saw at my side
another frog-man carrying O'Keefe, and behind him, Olaf, step instinct with grief,
following like some faithful, wistful dog who has lost a loved master. Upon my
movement the monster bearing me halted, looked down inquiringly, uttered a deep,
booming note that held the quality of interrogation.
Lakla turned; the clear, golden eyes were sorrowful, the sweet mouth drooping; but her
loveliness, her gentleness, that undefinable synthesis of all her tender self that seemed
always to circle her with an atmosphere of lucid normality, lulled my panic.
"Drink this," she commanded, holding a small vial to my lips.
Its contents were aromatic, unfamiliar but astonishingly effective, for as soon as they
passed my lips I felt a surge of strength; consciousness was restored.
"Larry!" I cried. "Is he dead?"
Lakla shook her head; her eyes were troubled.
"No," she said; "but he is like one dead--and yet unlike--"
"Put me down," I demanded of my bearer.