For a moment I was mute with astonishment, then, as he smilingly advanced with extended hand, I knew instantly that he was present at Almos’ request. Without further time for thought, I grasped his hand and greeted him cordially, realizing that no matter what the object of his visit was, it was known to Almos, and under no circumstances must I appear surprised. Without waiting to be questioned, Reon offered me a slip of paper on which I observed Almos’ handwriting.
“I carefully followed your instructions, Almos, regarding the virator, and, half an hour later, I turned off the current of super-radium. I was just preparing to leave. You are late in returning, are you not?”
While Reon thus spoke, I had gained time to glance hastily over the instructions that Almos had written upon the slip of paper which I held in my hand, and I now replied, with every nerve strung in an effort to appear calm:
“I am, Reon, a whole hour late, and very sorry, indeed, to have kept you waiting so long. But now, my good fellow, you must be off; I will not detain you a moment longer than it takes to thank you for your kindness from the bottom of my heart.”
So saying, I shook his hand warmly, and accompanying him to the balcony, waved him adieu.
The gratitude which I had thus expressed to Reon, was by no means mere acting. My hasty glance at the instructions had convinced me that he had been the means of saving my life. Without noticing the hour mentioned, I had just time enough, while Reon was speaking, to note that he was instructed to turn on the current from the upper chamber of the virator, and, half an hour later, to shut off the super-radium current. I felt that Almos had in this way prepared to save my life, in case I arrived at the observatory too late to return to Earth. With wonderful forethought—perhaps even a premonition of my late return—he had requested Reon to visit the observatory and instructed him what to do at a certain time, with the result that Almos’ spirit had been transferred to my body in Paris, before it was lost forever by passing out of wave contact.
Hastening to the virator, I now examined it, and found that Reon had faithfully carried out the instructions, although he was unaware that in so doing he had saved a life, doubtless thinking that in Almos’ absence, he had merely attended to the details of an important experiment.
I felt that I could never repay Almos for all he had undertaken for my safety. The following evening I would enter the virator, and do precisely as Almos had done on previous evenings. When Almos’ spirit had arrived, he would then change the current to an outflowing one, and dispatch my spirit to Earth.
Although my thoughts of Zarlah had been interrupted by the excitement incident to finding Reon at the observatory, I was soon absorbed once more in the subject ever foremost in my mind. With my head resting on my hands, I sat hour after hour, endeavoring to conceive some plan—no matter how hazardous—that would result in my being able to remain on Mars with Zarlah. But the gloom of despair only deepened, and all solutions were perforce dismissed.