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She took his arm affectionately, and directed their walk towards the tree - covered hills. As they went along, the sun broke through the upper mists and a terrible gust of scorching heat, like a blast from a furnace, struck Maskull's head. He involuntarily looked up, but lowered his eyes again like lightning. All that he saw in that instant was a glaring ball of electric white, three times the apparent diameter of the sun. For a few minutes he was quite blind.
"My God!" he exclaimed. "If it's like this in early morning you must be right enough about Blodsombre." When he had somewhat recovered himself he asked, "How long are the days here, Joiwind?"
Again he felt his brain being probed.
"At this time of the year, for every hour's daylight that you have in summer, we have two."
"The heat is terrific - and yet somehow I don't feel so distressed by it as I would have expected."
"I feel it more than usual. It's not difficult to account for it; you have some of my blood, and I have some of yours."
"Yes, every time I realise that, I - Tell me, Joiwind, will my blood alter, if I stay here long enough? - I mean, will it lose its redness and thickness, and become pure and thin and light - coloured, like yours?"
"Why not? If you live as we live, you will assuredly grow like us."
"Do you mean food and drink?"
"We eat no food, and drink only water."
"And on that you manage to sustain life?"
"Well, Maskull, our water is good water," replied Joiwind, smiling.
As soon as he could see again he stared around at the landscape. The enormous scarlet desert extended everywhere to the horizon, excepting where it was broken by the oasis. It was roofed by a cloudless, deep blue, almost violet, sky. The circle of the horizon was far larger than on earth. On the skyline, at right angles to the direction in which they were walking, appeared a chain of mountains, apparently about forty miles' distant. One, which was higher than the rest, was shaped like a cup. Maskull would have felt inclined to believe he was travelling in dreamland, but for the intensity of the light, which made everything vividly real.
Joiwind pointed to the cup - shaped mountain. "That's Poolingdred."
"You didn't come from there!" he exclaimed, quite startled.
"Yes, I did indeed. And that is where we have to go to now."
"With the single object of finding me?"
The colour mounted to his face. "Then you are the bravest and noblest of all girls," he said quietly, after a pause. "Without exception. Why, this is a journey for an athlete!"
She pressed his arm, while a score of unpaintable, delicate hues stained her cheeks in rapid transition. "Please don't say any more about it, Maskull. It makes me feel unpleasant."
"Very well. But can we possibly get there before midday?"
"Oh, yes. And you mustn't be frightened at the distance. We think nothing of long distances here - we have so much to think about and feel. Time goes all too quickly."
During their conversation they had drawn neat the base of the hills, which sloped gently, and were not above fifty feet in height. Maskull now began to see strange specimens of vegetable life. What looked like a small patch of purple grass, above five feet square, was moving across the sand in their direction. When it came near enough he perceived that it was not grass; there were no blades, but only purple roots. The roots were revolving, for each small plant in the whole patch, like the spokes of a rimless wheel. They were alternately plunged in the sand, and withdrawn from it, and by this means the plant proceeded forward. Some uncanny, semi - intelligent instinct was keeping all the plants together, moving at one pace, in one direction, like a flock of migrating birds in flight.
Another remarkable plant was a large, feathery ball, resembling a dandelion fruit, which they encountered sailing through the air. Joiwind caught it with an exceedingly graceful movement of her arm, and showed it to Maskull. It had roots and presumably lived in the air and fed on the chemical constituents of the atmosphere. But what was peculiar about it was its colour. It was an entirely new colour - not a new shade or combination, but a new primary colour, as vivid as blue, red, or yellow, but quite different. When he inquired, she told him that it was known as "ulfire." Presently he met with a second new colour. This she designated "jale." The sense impressions caused in Maskull by these two additional primary colors can only be vaguely hinted at by analogy. Just as blue is delicate and mysterious, yellow clear and unsubtle, and red sanguine and passionate, so he felt ulfire to be wild and painful, and jale dreamlike, feverish, and voluptuous.
The hills were composed of a rich, dark mould. Small trees, of weird shapes, all differing from each other, but all purple - coloured, covered the slopes and top. Maskull and Joiwind climbed up and through. Some hard fruit, bright blue in colour, of the size of a large apple, and shaped like an egg, was lying in profusion underneath the trees.
"Is the fruit here poisonous, or why don't you eat it?" asked Maskull.
She looked at him tranquilly. "We don't eat living things. The thought is horrible to us."
"I have nothing to say against that, theoretically. But do you really sustain your bodies on water?"
"Supposing you could find nothing else to live on, Maskull - would you eat other men?"
"I would not."
"Neither will we eat plants and animals, which are our fellow creatures. So nothing is left to us but water, and as one can really live on anything, water does very well."
Maskull picked up one of the fruits and handled it curiously. As he did so another of his newly acquired sense organs came into action. He found that the fleshy knobs beneath his ears were in some novel fashion acquainting him with the inward properties of the fruit. He could not only see, feel, and smell it, but could detect its intrinsic nature. This nature was hard, persistent and melancholy.
Joiwind answered the questions he had not asked.
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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.