“’Ah, Love! could
thou and I with Fate conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits—and then
Re-mould it nearer to our Heart’s Desire?’”
The discovery at the Martian observatory.
Although I well knew the fatal consequences of arriving at the observatory too late, and realized that in this slow travelling aerenoid my chances of covering the five miles in time were but slight, so depressed and desperate was I that I gave the matter little thought. Indeed, my mind was entirely occupied with thoughts of Zarlah. Vainly did I search Almos’ scientific knowledge for a means of transportation over millions of miles of space. All my theories led to but one conclusion—that no material transit over such an enormous distance was possible. My heart sank within me as I thought how brief my happiness had been. But then came the bewildering realization that an eternity of loneliness would not be too much to pay for the unutterable joy which nothing could take from me. Raised aloft to the highest pinnacle of happiness, I had been permitted to experience the joy of Zarlah’s love—a love that I had thought was for Almos—only to be dashed down into still deeper despair. Then a great anguish filled my heart as I realized that before I was alone in my misery, which, through a thoughtless action, I had brought upon myself, but now my agony was shared by a loving and trusting heart that had been joined to mine by the decree of Fate.
The thought of the unhappiness I had brought into Zarlah’s life maddened me, and when at last the aerenoid rested upon the balcony of the observatory, I stepped out, caring little whether wave contact had ceased or not. I would enter the virator in any case, and at once fulfil my obligation to Almos, through whose generosity I had been permitted to visit this veritable paradise. Then, if wave contact with Paris still existed my spirit would return to my body which lay there, but if not, I felt that Fate would have thus solved the hopeless tangle into which it had precipitated me.
As I proceeded across the balcony, I was astonished to observe a high-speed aerenoid lying close to the one I knew belonged to Almos. What could it mean! That a visitor would enter the observatory knowing Almos to be absent, I could not conceive, as I was well aware of the sanctity of a dwelling in the Martian mind, especially when that dwelling was the theatre of such experiments and observations as the observatory conducted by Almos.
Greatly perturbed I turned and entered the building, and, with all haste, proceeded down the corridor. As I reached the portieres of the large room, the sound of someone within moving about caused my heart to beat wildly, and, thrusting aside the curtains, I beheld Reon.