The Moon Pool HTML version

Chapter 8. Olaf's Story
THERE was a little silence. I looked upon him with wonder. Clearly he was in deepest
earnest. I know the psychology of the Gael is a curious one and that deep in all their
hearts their ancient traditions and beliefs have strong and living roots. And I was both
amused and touched.
Here was this soldier, who had faced war and its ugly realities open-eyed and fearless,
picking, indeed, the most dangerous branch of service for his own, a modern if ever there
was one, appreciative of most unmystical Broadway, and yet soberly and earnestly
attesting to his belief in banshee, in shadowy people of the woods, and phantom harpers!
I wondered what he would think if he could see the Dweller and then, with a pang, that
perhaps his superstitions might make him an easy prey.
He shook his head half impatiently and ran a hand over his eyes; turned to me and
"Don't think I'm cracked, Professor," he said. "I'm not. But it takes me that way now and
then. It's the Irish in me. And, believe it or not, I'm telling you the truth."
I looked eastward where the moon, now nearly a week past the full, was mounting.
"You can't make me see what you've seen, Lieutenant," I laughed. "But you can make me
hear. I've always wondered what kind of a noise a disembodied spirit could make without
any vocal cords or breath or any other earthly soundproducing mechanism. How does the
banshee sound?"
O'Keefe looked at me seriously.
"All right," he said. "I'll show you." From deep down in his throat came first a low, weird
sobbing that mounted steadily into a keening whose mournfulness made my skin creep.
And then his hand shot out and gripped my shoulder, and I stiffened like stone in my
chair--for from behind us, like an echo, and then taking up the cry, swelled a wail that
seemed to hold within it a sublimation of the sorrows of centuries! It gathered itself into
one heartbroken, sobbing note and died away! O'Keefe's grip loosened, and he rose
swiftly to his feet.
"It's all right, Professor," he said. "It's for me. It found me--all this way from Ireland."
Again the silence was rent by the cry. But now I had located it. It came from my room,
and it could mean only one thing--Huldricksson had wakened.
"Forget your banshee!" I gasped, and made a jump for the cabin.