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Maskull caught hold of her with his third hand. "Listen to me, while I try to describe what I'm feeling. When I saw that landslip, everything I have heard about the last destruction of the world came into my mind. It seemed to me as if I were actually witnessing it, and that the world were really falling to pieces. Then, where the land was, we now have this empty, awful gulf - that's to say, nothing - and it seems to me as if our life will come to the same condition, where there was something there will be nothing. But that terrible blue glare on the opposite side is exactly like the eye of fate. It accuses us, and demands what we have made of our life, which is no more. At the same time, it is grand and joyful. The joy consists in this - that it is in our power to give freely what will later on be taken from us by force."
Tydomin watched him attentively. "Then your feeling is that your life is worthless, and you make a present of it to the first one who asks?"
"No, it goes beyond that. I feel that the only thing worth living for is to be so magnanimous that fate itself will be astonished at us. Understand me. It isn't cynicism, or bitterness, or despair, but heroism.... It's hard to explain."
"Now you shall hear what sacrifice I offer you, Maskull. It's a heavy one, but that's what you seem to wish."
"That is so. In my present mood it can't be too heavy."
"Then, if you are in earnest, resign your body to me. Now that Crimtyphon's dead, I'm tired of being a woman."
"I fail to comprehend."
"Listen, then. I wish to start a new existence in your body. I wish to be a male. I see it isn't worth while being a woman. I mean to dedicate my own body to Crimtyphon. I shall tie his body and mine together, and give them a common funeral in the burning lake. That's the sacrifice I offer you. As I said, it's a hard one."
"So you do ask me to die. Though how you can make use of my body is difficult to understand."
"No, I don't ask you to die. You will go on living."
"How is it possible without a body?"
Tydomin gazed at him earnestly. "There are many such beings, even in your world. There you call them spirits, apparitions, phantoms. They are in reality living wills, deprived of material bodies, always longing to act and enjoy, but quite unable to do so. Are you noble- minded enough to accept such a state, do you think?"
"If it's possible, I accept it," replied Maskull quietly. "Not in spite of its heaviness, but because of it. But how is it possible?"
"Undoubtedly there are very many things possible in our world of which you have no conception. Now let us wait till we get home. I don't hold you to your word, for unless it's a free sacrifice I will have nothing to do with it."
"I am not a man who speaks lightly. If you can perform this miracle, you have my consent, once for all."
"Then we'll leave it like that for the present," said Tydomin sadly.
They proceeded on their way. Owing to the subsidence, Tydomin seemed rather doubtful at first as to the right road, but by making a long divergence they eventually got around to the other side of the newly formed chasm. A little later on, in a narrow copse crowning a miniature, insulated peak, they fell in with a man. He was resting himself against a tree, and looked tired, overheated, and despondent. He was young. His beardless expression bore an expression of unusual sincerity, and in other respects he seemed a hardy, hardworking youth, of an intellectual type. His hair was thick, short, and flaxen. He possessed neither a sorb nor a third arm - so presumably he was not a native of Ifdawn. His forehead, however, was disfigured by what looked like a haphazard assortment of eyes, eight in number, of different sizes and shapes. They went in pairs, and whenever two were in use, it was indicated by a peculiar shining - the rest remained dull, until their turn came. In addition to the upper eyes he had the two lower ones, but they were vacant and lifeless. This extraordinary battery of eyes, alternatively alive and dead, gave the young man an appearance of almost alarming mental activity. He was wearing nothing but a sort of skin kilt. Maskull seemed somehow to recognise the face, though he had certainly never set eyes on it before.
Tydomin suggested to him to set down the corpse, and both sat down to rest in the shade.
"Question him, Maskull," she said, rather carelessly, jerking her head toward the stranger.
Maskull sighed and asked aloud, from his seat on the ground, "What's your name, and where do you come from?"
The . man studied him for a few moments, first with one pair of eyes, then with another, then with a third. He next turned his attention to Tydomin, who occupied him a still longer time. He replied at last, in a dry, manly, nervous voice. "I am Digrung. I have arrived here from Matterplay." His colour kept changing, and Maskull suddenly realised of whom he reminded him. It was of Joiwind.
"Perhaps you're going to Poolingdred, Digrung?" he inquired, interested.
"As a matter of fact I am - if I can find my way out of this accursed country."
"Possibly you are acquainted with Joiwind there?"
"She's my sister. I'm on my way to see her now. Why, do you know her?"
"I met her yesterday."
"What is your name, then?"
"I shall tell her I met you. This will be our first meeting for four years. Is she well, and happy?"
"Both, as far as I could judge. You know Panawe?"
"Her husband - yes. But where do you come from? I've seen nothing like you before."
"From another world. Where is Matterplay?"
"It's the first country one comes to beyond the Sinking Sea."
"What is it like there - how do you amuse yourselves? The same old murders and sudden deaths?"
"Are you ill?" asked Digrung. "Who is this woman, why are you following at her heels like a slave? She looks insane to me. What's that corpse - why are you dragging it around the country with you?"
Tydomin smiled. "I've already heard it said about Matterplay, that if one sows an answer there, a rich crop of questions immediately springs up. But why do you make this unprovoked attack on me, Digrung?"
"I don't attack you, woman. but I know you. I see into you, and I see insanity. That wouldn't matter, but I don't like to see a man of intelligence like Maskull caught in your filthy meshes."
"I suppose even you clever Matterplay people sometimes misjudge character. However, I don't mind. Your opinion's nothing to me, Digrung. You'd better answer his questions, Maskull. Not for his own sake - but your feminine friend is sure to be curious about your having been seen carrying a dead man."
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A Voyage to Arcturus -by- David LindsayBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.