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"Those organs are called 'poigns.' Their use is to enable us to understand and sympathise with all living creatures."
"What advantage do you derive from that, Joiwind?"
"The advantage of not being cruel and selfish, dear Maskull."
He threw the fruit away and flushed again.
Joiwind looked into his swarthy, bearded face without embarrassment and slowly smiled. "Have I said too much? Have I been too familiar? Do you know why you think so? It's because you are still impure. By and by you will listen to all language without shame."
Before he realised what she was about to do, she threw her tentacle round his neck, like another arm. He offered no resistance to its cool pressure. The contact of her soft flesh with his own was so moist and sensitive that it resembled another kind of kiss. He saw who it was that embraced him - a pale, beautiful girl. Yet, oddly enough, he experienced neither voluptuousness nor sexual pride. The love expressed by the caress was rich, glowing, and personal, but there was not the least trace of sex in it - and so he received it.
She removed her tentacle, placed her two arms on his shoulders and penetrated with her eyes right into his very soul.
"Yes, I wish to be pure," he muttered. "Without that what can I ever be but a weak, squirming devil?"
Joiwind released him. "This we call the 'magn,' " she said, indicating her tentacle. "By means of it what we love already we love more, and what we don't love at all we begin to love."
"A godlike organ!"
"It is the one we guard most jealously," said Joiwind.
The shade of the trees afforded a timely screen from the now almost insufferable rays of Branchspell, which was climbing steadily upward to the zenith. On descending the other side of the little hills, Maskull looked anxiously for traces of Nightspore and Krag, but without result. After staring about him for a few minutes he shrugged his shoulders; but suspicions had already begun to gather in his mind.
A small, natural amphitheatre lay at their feet, completely circled by the tree - clad heights. The centre was of red sand. In the very middle shot up a tall, stately tree, with a black trunk and branches, and transparent, crystal leaves. At the foot of this tree was a natural, circular well, containing dark green water.
When they had reached the bottom, Joiwind took him straight over to the well.
Maskull gazed at it intently. "Is this the shrine you talked about?"
"Yes. It is called Shaping's Well. The man or woman who wishes to invoke Shaping must take up some of the gnawl water, and drink it."
"Pray for me," said Maskull. "Your unspotted prayer will carry more weight."
"What do you wish for?"
"For purity," answered Maskull, in a troubled voice.
Joiwind made a cup of her hand, and drank a little of the water. She held it up to Maskull's mouth. "You must drink too." He obeyed. She then stood erect, closed her eyes, and, in a voice like the soft murmurings of spring, prayed aloud.
"Shaping, my father, I am hoping you can hear me. A strange man has come to us weighed down with heavy blood. He wishes to be pure. Let him know the meaning of love, let him live for others. Don't spare him pain, dear Shaping, but let him seek his own pain. Breathe into him a noble soul."
Maskull listened with tears in his heart.
As Joiwind finished speaking, a blurred mist came over his eyes, and, half buried in the scarlet sand, appeared a large circle of dazzlingly white pillars. For some minutes they flickered to and fro between distinctness and indistinctness, like an object being focused. Then they faded out of sight again.
"Is that a sign from Shaping?" asked Maskull, in a low, awed tone.
"Perhaps it is. It is a time mirage."
"What can that be, Joiwind?"
"You see, dear Maskull, the temple does not yet exist but it will do so, because it must. What you and I are now doing in simplicity, wise men will do hereafter in full knowledge."
"It is right for man to pray," said Maskull. "Good and evil in the world don't originate from nothing. God and Devil must exist. And we should pray to the one, and fight the other."
"Yes, we must fight Krag."
"What name did you say?" asked Maskull in amazement.
"Krag - the author of evil and misery - whom you call Devil."
He immediately concealed his thoughts. To prevent Joiwind from learning his relationship to this being, he made his mind a blank.
"Why do you hide your mind from me?" she demanded, looking at him strangely and changing colour.
"In this bright, pure, radiant world, evil seems so remote, one can scarcely grasp its meaning." But he lied.
Joiwind continued gazing at him, straight out of her clean soul. "The world is good and pure, but many men are corrupt. Panawe, my husband, has travelled, and he has told me things I would almost rather have not heard. One person he met believed the universe to be, from top to bottom, a conjurer's cave."
"I should like to meet your husband."
"Well, we are going home now."
Maskull was on the point of inquiring whether she had any children, but was afraid of offending her, and checked himself.
She read the mental question. "What need is there? Is not the whole world full of lovely children? Why should I want selfish possessions?"
An extraordinary creature flew past, uttering a plaintive cry of five distinct notes. It was not a bird, but had a balloon - shaped body, paddled by five webbed feet. It disappeared among the trees.
Joiwind pointed to it, as it went by. "I love that beast, grotesque as it is - perhaps all the more for its grotesqueness. But if I had children of my own, would I still love it? Which is best - to love two or three, or to love all?"
"Every woman can't be like you, Joiwind, but it is good to have a few like you. Wouldn't it be as well," he went on, "since we've got to walk through that sun - baked wilderness, to make turbans for our heads out of some of those long leaves?"
She smiled rather pathetically. "You will think me foolish, but every tearing off of a leaf would be a wound in my heart. We have only to throw our robes over our heads."
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A Voyage to Arcturus -by- David Lindsay