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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.
He felt a soft, cool touch on the back of his neck. He started forward in nervous fright and, in doing so, tumbled over onto the sand. Looking up over his shoulder quickly, he was astounded to see a woman standing beside him.
She was clothed in a single flowing, pale green garment, rather classically draped. According to earth standards she was not beautiful, for, although her face was otherwise human, she was endowed - or afflicted - with the additional disfiguring organs that Maskull had discovered in himself. She also possessed the heart tentacle. But when he sat up, and their eyes met and remained in sympathetic contact, he seemed to see right into a soul that was the home of love, warmth, kindness, tenderness, and intimacy. Such was the noble familiarity of that gaze, that he thought he knew her. After that, he recognised all the loveliness of her person. She was tall and slight. All her movements were as graceful as music. Her skin was not of a dead, opaque colour, like that of an earth beauty, but was opalescent; its hue was continually changing, with every thought and emotion, but none of these tints was vivid - all were delicate, half - toned, and poetic. She had very long, loosely plaited, flaxen hair. The new organs, as soon as Maskull had familiarised himself with them, imparted something to her face that was unique and striking. He could not quite define it to himself, but subtlety and inwardness seemed added. The organs did not contradict the love of her eyes or the angelic purity of her features, but nevertheless sounded a deeper note - a note that saved her from mere girlishness.
Her gaze was so friendly and unembarrassed that Maskull felt scarcely any humiliation at sitting at her feet, naked and helpless. She realised his plight, and put into his hands a garment that she had been carrying over her arm. It was similar to the one she was wearing, but of a darker, more masculine colour.
"Do you think you can put it on by yourself?"
He was distinctly conscious of these words, yet her voice had not sounded.
He forced himself up to his feet, and she helped him to master the complications of the drapery.
"Poor man - how you are suffering!" she said, in the same inaudible language. This time he discovered that the sense of what she said was received by his brain through the organ on his forehead.
"Where am I? Is this Tormance?" he asked. As he spoke, he staggered.
She caught him, and helped him to sit down. "Yes. You are with friends."
Then she regarded him with a smile, and began speaking aloud, in English. Her voice somehow reminded him of an April day, it was so fresh, nervous, and girlish. "I can now understand your language. It was strange at first. in the future I'll speak to you with my mouth."
"This is extraordinary! What is this organ?" he asked, touching his forehead.
"It is named the 'breve.' By means of it we read one another's thoughts. Still, speech is better, for then the heart can be read too."
He smiled. "They say that speech is given us to deceive others."
"One can deceive with thought, too. But I'm thinking of the best, not the worst."
"Have you seen my friends?"
'She scrutinised him quietly, before answering. "Did you not come alone?"
"I came with two other men, in a machine. I must have lost consciousness on arrival, and I haven't seen them since."
"That's very strange! No, I haven't seen them. They can't be here, or we would have known it. My husband and I - "
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A Voyage to Arcturus -by- David Lindsay