Across the Zodiac eBook

Percy Greg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 490 pages of information about Across the Zodiac.

Ergimo landed to make arrangements for the chase, to witness which was the principal object of this deviation from what would otherwise have been our most convenient course.  Not only would it be possible to take part in the pursuit of the wild fauna of the continent, but I also hoped to share in a novel sport, not unlike a whale-hunt in Baffin’s Bay.  A large inland sea, occupying no inconsiderable part of the area of this belt, lay immediately to the northward, and one wide arm thereof extended within a few miles of Askirita, a distance which, notwithstanding the interposition of a mountain range, might be crossed in a couple of hours.  One or two days at most would suffice for both adventures.  I had not yet mentioned my intention to Eveena.  During the voyage I had been much alone with her, and it was then only that our real acquaintance began.  Till then, however close our attachment, we were, in knowledge of each other’s character and thought, almost as strangers.  While her painful timidity had in some degree worn off, her anxious and watchful deference was even more marked than before.  True to the strange ideas derived chiefly from her training, partly from her own natural character, she was the more careful to avoid giving the slightest pain or displeasure, as she ceased to fear that either would be immediately and intentionally visited upon herself.  She evidently thought that on this account there was the greater danger lest a series of trivial annoyances, unnoticed at the time, might cool the affection she valued so highly.  Diffident of her own charms, she knew how little hold the women of her race generally have on the hearts of men after the first fever of passion has cooled.  It was difficult for her to realise that her thoughts or wishes could truly interest me, that compliance with her inclinations could be an object, or that I could be seriously bent on teaching her to speak frankly and openly.  But as this new idea became credible and familiar, her unaffected desire to comply with all that was expected from her drew out her hitherto undeveloped powers of conversation, and enabled me day by day to appreciate more thoroughly the real intelligence and soundness of judgment concealed at first by her shyness, and still somewhat obscured by her childlike simplicity and absolute inexperience.  In the latter respect, however, she was, of course, at the less disadvantage with a stranger to the manners and life of her world.  A more perfectly charming companion it would have been difficult to desire and impossible to find.  If at first I had been secretly inclined to reproach her with exaggerated timidity, it became more and more evident that her personal fears were due simply to that nervous susceptibility which even men of reputed courage have often displayed in situations of sudden and wholly unfamiliar peril.  Her tendency to overrate all dangers, not merely as they affected herself, but as they might involve others, and above all her husband, I ascribed to the ideas and habits of thought now for so many centuries hereditary among a people in whom the fear of annihilation—­and the absence of all the motives that impel men on earth to face danger and death with calmness, or even to enjoy the excitement of deadly peril—­have extinguished manhood itself.

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Across the Zodiac from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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